ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
This month I'll be looking at a variety of Anti-Dutch and Anti-Blumenfeld systems involving an early Bg5 or Bf4 by White. The London System, in various guises (even versus the Dutch!), has become very popular in recent years and of course a quick Bg5 versus ...f5 has already been an occasional guest in this column, but I've judged it time for a closer look. Hopefully, these six games will help you better understand the salient points when contemplating your Dutch-based set-up.
In the Blumenfeld, declining with 5.Bg5 is actually the main approach, but it's worth looking at some recent examples, plus one involving this development in the Accepted.
We start, however, with a recent example from the Bf4 Budapest which illustrates Black's problems in the traditional main line.

Download PGN of March ’19 Daring Defences games

>> Previous Update >>

Budapest Gambit 3...Ng4 4.Bf4 Nc6 5,Nf3 Bb4+ 6.Nbd2 Mainline [A52]

In Vorobiov, E - Miezes, N White played 4.Bf4 and Black then desisted from the trendy 4...g5.

Miezes tries to stick to the traditional way of playing but gets crushed. It strikes me that even if he had been a bit more vigilant he would still have had an unpleasant, and overly-passive, defensive task. So what to do? Of course, those seeking murky play are probably already aware of 4...g5 which we have examined on several occasions in ChessPublishing. It's complicated but I have a gut-feeling that it might not be completely sound. Instead, to combine the solidity of 4...Nc6 etc. with the possibility of creating a few problems for White I suggest delaying castling, instead preferring the flexible 10...d6 followed by 11...b6, as you can see in the notes.

Dutch Defence 2.Bg5 h6 3.Bh4 g5 4.e3 [A80]

In Urkedal, F - Beerdsen, T Black employed a plan that he seems fond of, as he had already tried it in a similar position.

Here Beerdsen opted for 10...a6 and followed up with 11..Bb7. It wasn't an easy ride by any means here, but objectively this seems to offer Black a reasonable game, even though it's a bit delicate with an easily exposed king. Instead, the notes show that the previously popular 10...Nc6 really can't be trusted, so be careful about this recent discovery!

In the middlegame, Urkedal was able to generate attacking chances, but mishandled the complications.

Dutch 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 d5 4.f3 [A80]

In Levin, E - Tsoi, D White tried the tricky 4.f3 which gives Black a wide choice:

In the actual game, Black opted for a particularly solid option 4...e6 5.e4 Be7 which is certainly a reasonable choice if you aren't that well prepared. However, 4...c5 is the principled move and the one recommended by Marusenko & Malaniuk as well as the best scoring according to statistics. However, it does require some background knowledge, so please study the notes with care!

Black emerged from the opening with a reasonable game, but then two or three slightly imprecise moves left White on top, whereupon Levin showed good technique to convert his advantage.

Dutch Defence 2.Bf4 [A80]

An early novelty (move four!) can be observed in Kraemer, M - Vaisser, A when Black tried a novel approach i.e. 4...Bd6:

In somewhat more standard London System positions, Black does often meet the bishop's pressure with an early ...Bd6, but that's after an early ...d5 rather than ...f5. Here, in the context of the Dutch, the veteran Frenchman was able to obtain a decent position quite quickly, so one could argue that the experiment was a success. Although the pawn structure in the middlegame wasn't too bad for Black, there was always the danger that the doubled pawns would lack flexibility. Indeed, as soon as Black started touching his pawns the structure became favourable for White, as was the outcome.

Dutch 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4 [A80]

In Grandelius, N - Hauge, LO Black opted for ...Bd6 to counter the strong bishop posted on f4. Play then led to a sort of Stonewall scenario without dark-squared bishops. Although Hauge may not be 'objectively' fully equal he was never put under much pressure. Indeed, towards the end, White was in trouble and was lucky to escape with a perpetual check.

Many folk would take White in the diagram position, but Black's position is really solid. I think that 13.b4 is an improvement over Grandelius's 13.Ne5, just as in various Queen's Gambits or Nimzos with a similar structure.

Staunton Gambit 2.e4 fxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nc6 5.d5 Ne5 6.Qe2 [A83]

Black was doing quite well in Leenhouts, K - Stefansson, VV until he allowed a double exchange sacrifice after which he lost control. In the opening, 6.Qe2 was well met by 6...c6! which at we've known for a long time is the best counter:

In this line, the only 'hint of a fly in the ointment' being that Black's king requires some care and attention to avoid it becoming exposed to attack. Hence one should consider a timely ...d5, which in the actual game at various stages, would have shut out the white pieces and offered Black a more serene time.

The game (and various analogous situations in the notes) shows that the slightly odd-looking pawn structure seems to be a perfectly sound one for the second player.

Dutch 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.Qc2 g6 [A85]

White was quickly on top in Alonso Rossell, A - Demuth, A as his opponent didn't cope that well with the h4-h5 advance. The key moment arises on move ten when Black has a wide choice:

I haven't made my mind up as to what is Black's most precise move here, but it's not 10...0-0? which left him with all sorts of problems in the game. One thing I can conclude is that a useful developing move is required, so take your pick between 10...Qc7, 10...Qe7, and 10...Be6.

At some point Alonso Rossell blundered his g-pawn and still had a dangerous initiative, but his opponent held firm.

In general, the advance of the h-pawn is quite a challenging option (see moves 6-9 in the game and notes), so it's worth taking the time in your preparation to work out your intended reactions.

Blumenfeld Gambit Declined 5.Bg5 exd5 6.cxd5 h6 [E10]

In Narayanan, S - Karthikeyan, M Black spent most of the game gradually outplaying his opponent only to fall to pieces, which cost him a whole point. I know, modern time limits can sometimes be a pain! What we can learn from the opening phase is that although White can play all the right strategic manoeuvres he may not be able to get any advantage if he allows Black to get fully coordinated. This works both ways as a set-up with White having full development, a knight well-installed on c4, plus an attractive pawn front d5, e4, f4, can leave Black short of counterplay.

Although it seems clear to me that Black should play an early ...Nd7 (to dent any ideas of a quick e4-e5), there is no consensus on how he should handle his king's bishop. The choice is between ...Be7 (a bit tame), ...g5 with ...Bg7 (ambitious), or, as in the game ...g6, ...Bg7, and only later ...g5 (investing a tempo to avoid committing himself too early).

Blumenfeld Gambit Declined 5.Bg5 b4 [E10]

In this case, Narayanan really knew what he was doing (was it preparation or OTB inspiration?) as Narayanan, S - Lorparizangeneh, S was very much a one-sided struggle. Black got into hot water very quickly which suggests that his 8...a5 is wrong, being a case of 'too many pawn moves with his king still in the centre'. After 9.axb4 cxb4 then 10.c5! appeared on the board:

This strong move was originally played by Kaidanov in the nineties. Back then, his opponent (Lev Alburt) survived and even went on to win, but this time there was no miracle.

Blumenfeld Gambit Accepted 6...d5 7.Bg5 [E10]

In Tran Tuan Minh - Shyam, N I examine an early Bg5 in the Accepted form of the Blumenfeld. This solves the problem of a piece that otherwise often fails to have much impact in the early stages:

How should Black react? Various set-ups and inter-transposing move orders come to our attention in the notes and the game, with several schemas looking playable. It seems that the addition of ...h6 by Black and Bh4 by White has pluses and minuses (Black's kingside in general and g6 in particular can become weak, but having the ...g5 push available is sometimes a handy resource).

If you are not sure, then perhaps take note of Shyam's approach which worked well here, so why not place the bishop on g7? Here, White's attempts to exploit g6 and h7 turned out to be an inferior plan, whereas Black's dark-squared influence gave him good play.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

>> Previous Update >>

If you have any questions, either leave a message on the Daring Defences Forum, or subscribers can email me at