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All sorts of weird and wonderful sidelines can be tried against the Dutch. So I've been examining a few this time that haven't necessarily received much coverage in ChessPub in recent years. Otherwise, some recent developments in the Taqid, Benko and Albin give plenty of food for thought for those seeking offbeat or gambit-style play.

Download PGN of July ’23 Daring Defences games

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TAQID 3.a3 Bb7 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d5 Bd6 [A50]

In Woodward, A - Aveskulov, V Black equalized before going astray and was perhaps fortunate to draw. The most notable 'winning move' can be seen in the notes to White's seventeenth, a delightful resource that was no doubt missed by both players at the time.

On the seventh move several alternatives seem possible, but with 7...a5 Black is hoping to restrain White's queenside and could seriously hope to maintain an outpost on the c5-square for some time to come. In the case, for example, of 8.Bg2 then 8...Na6 9.0-0 Nc5 is in fact standard practice. Here, after the less pertinent 8.b3 Aveskulov revealed an alternative theme with 8...c6 eroding the white centre and soon obtaining equality.

Benko Gambit Declined 4.Qc2 bxc4 5.e4 d6 6.Bxc4 [A57]

A test for 4.Qc2 in Galaviz Meduna, S - Cori, J a pragmatic move that has rather lost its topicality.

In the game, and most of the notes, there seems to be little for White to enthuse about, but the possibility of 10.Nb5! (instead of 10.Nd2) is perhaps his one chance to keep a pull out of the opening phase. Then, I'm not sure what to suggest for Black, but he could simply try 10...Bxb5 with a decent game even if it isn't fully equal. Later the higher-rated player was able to grind away and White eventually cracked on move forty.

Modern Benko Gambit Accepted 6...Bg7 7.e4 0-0 8.Be2 [A58]

In Sabubayev, A - Gareev, T the decision is made to start attacking the centre before recapturing on a6:

The notes demonstrate that lines involving an e4-e5 for White are risky at best, so the choice of 9.Nf3 was reasonable and then following 9...Bxa6 10.0-0 Qb6 the fight was on. The usual talking point is at which moment Black intends capturing on d5, but here ...exd5 never came and Gareev demonstrated some other ways of generating counterplay starting with 11...Rc8 which certainly made sense in what followed.

Dutch 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 d5 4.Bxf6 exf6 5.e3 Be6 6.Bd3 Qd7 7.Nge2 [D80]

It's quite a while since I've thought about the 3...d5 4.Bxf6 line, as tested in Shengelia, D - Peyrer, K where the following position occurred:

Now White has many choices, but one of the points of Black's eighth move is that he can simplify against an early N-f4 with ...Bd6xf4 and obtain a solid game. Against Shengelia's 9.Na4 a more vigilant approach is required, which should involve ...Na5 (with ...b6 in support) to make any ideas of c2-c4 less evident. In the game, White's 12.c4 ensured an advantage that he eventually converted, but not without a few ups and downs along the way.

Dutch 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 g6 4.h4 [D80]

In Wei Yi - Bu Xianghzi Black did nothing to stop his opponent push his h-pawn.

Following 5.h5 d6 6.hxg6 (I'm not convinced by the tempting 6.h6 as it closes the flank) 6...hxg6 7.Rxh8+ Bxh8 8.Nc3 I would suggest that the position is a little easier for White to handle, but certainly playable for Black. Maybe it's normal that Black is OK, as White has spent quite some time opening an h-file which he can't really use directly. In the game, White should have won, but there were several improvements on Black's play.

Dutch 2.Bf4 d6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 g6 5.h4 [D80]

In Stella, A - Gorshtein, I Black preferred to meet 5.h4 with the preventative 5...h6, but this weakens the g6-square, hence 6.Qf3 with Q-g3 in mind:

Now, how to meet any coming threats to the g-pawn? In the notes, I examine 6...c6, 6...e6 and 6...Nc6 all of which seem reasonable enough, that is, on the evidence of my research and scribblings. In the game however, Gorshtein preferred the most natural move 6...Bg7 but following 7.Qg3! Kf7 8.Bc4+ e6 9.0-0-0 White seems to have the easier game, especially after placing his knight on the most challenging h3-square. It was tough going for the defender after that, despite possible improvements on moves 12 and 13.

Dutch 2.Nf3 & 3.h3 [D80]

White was in a mischievous mood, if his opening choice was anything to go on in Meshkovs, N - Noritsyn, N:

Eye-opening indeed! This 'daring' pawn offer looks like fun for Rapid or Blitz, but it seems that play actually followed a previous game of Noritsyn, so any attempted 'surprise' value fell a bit flat!

My conclusions so far for the theory is that Black certainly shouldn't get tempted by the g-pawn and that a defence based around ...b6 looks like a reasonable practical idea. In the actual game, 4...d5 5.gxf5 Nc6 was a noteworthy counter-gambit which was in turn refused by his opponent. The novelty came on move eight (8...Ne4) and after 9.Nd2 exf5 Black was already equal.

Dutch 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bf4 e6 4.g4 [D80]

Another gambit involving an early g2-g4 was seen in Harsha, B - Sandipan, C but first White played 3.Bf4:

The Jobava meets the Dutch! Then after the reasonable enough 3...e6 Harsha reached for his g-pawn...4.g4!? when it would have been great to see the look on Sandipan's face! Whatever the objective value, it's notable that in several games that have reached this position, Black has gone astray quite quickly. Here the continuation 4...Nxg4 5.e4 d5 6.Nb5 e5 occurred and all hell had broken loose already. What chaos! Apart from Sandipan's fourth, each of 4...d5, 4...fxg4 and 4...Bb4 are acceptable alternatives. Some of the resulting positions are deceptive (the engines often disagree!) with Stockfish being quite optimistic about White's potential, so I think we'll see more of this wild and wonderful idea soon.

Leningrad Dutch Nh3 with c2-c4, 7.d5 c6 8.Nf4 e5 [A86]

In Predke, A - Sandipan, C White tried his luck with the early Ng1-h3-f4 manoeuvre.

How to recapture in the diagram position? If Black opts for ...Bxe6 (firstly preparing it with 9...Qe7 or 9...Re8) then he obtains a sound position where the loss of the bishop pair is only vaguely relevant. He could also angle for ...Nxe6 with 9...Na6 and then going via c5 or 10...Nc7. This way of restoring material equality leads to a slightly clumsy development, but no ceding of the bishop pair. With both of these approaches Black gets close enough to equality and so are considered to be reasonable. The third way involves a timely ...g5, see 11...g5 12.Nd3 Nxe6 which worked fine for Sandipan and is probably the most dynamic way for Black to counter this line.

Albin Counter-Gambit Morozevich's line 5.a3 Nge7 6.b4 Ng6 7.Bb2 a5 [D80]

There was a big test for the Albin afficianado Abdulla Gadimbayli in Navara, D - Gadimbayli, A:

The main line with 12.Qc2 Nd6 13.Bd3 is better known, but Navara was perhaps aware of his opponent's penchant for this opening and had prepared some ideas after 12.Be2. One of them could have been 16.Rad1 which varies from previous e-mail games where White probably ensured a nominal pull, but I feel that Black could perhaps have then wriggled out with 16...Bf8 (instead of 16...Bf6) 17.e4 Qc8 with ...c6 to follow. It was hard work for the Czech star to make progress in the game and Black was very close to drawing the endgame.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

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