Other Setups

by Nestrellov


I have been asked to write about some other setups. The Dutch Stonewall apparently being too popular and it is desirable to play against other opening strategies at least once in a while. Henk or Skaanning would be more suitable authors for this chapter, since they employ these setups more regularly and are more familiar with their nuances. Alas, they left the matter at hand to me and i will try to do my best.



The English Stonewall




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This is the standard position of the English Stonewall. It resembles the Dutch Stonewall. In fact, it is an inversion. But there are some minor differences.

Firstly, it lends variety to your opening repertoire. Instead of 1.f4 you open your game with 1.c4 and your opponent cannot any longer anticipate your first move. You may ask, how this could be of any use. Well, let us go back and take a look at the Dutch Stonewall again. The board may look something like this:



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Suppose that your opponent was faster than you and played ...e5 before you could get your pawn to f4.
(Sure. Only hypothetically, of course... miep... miep...)
He then continues to block the center by playing ...e4.



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Many find this annoying and do not know, how to react. (My plan is to play my knight from f3 to h2 and my bishop from d3 to e2. Then, I often lock up the kingside and concentrate my forces on the queenside. I prepare c4 with moves like rook f1 to c1 and knight h2 to f1.) So, if your opponent wants to outspeed you, then you can switch between the Dutch and the English Stonewall. Your opponent will not know, whether he has to start with the the d-pawn or the e-pawn to achieve his goal.


Secondly, your pieces are aimed at other squares, your main target being d5. Not especially, how the knights are placed: One knight can move to d5 and the other can follow. (It would have been bad to place the knights on f3 and d2, since d4 almost certainly is controlled by a black pawn on c5.)



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From this position, you may castle long or castle short, depending on which side your opponent advances the least. It is not yet clear, where your queen is best placed, but you can always play it to c2 or d2 without much harm.



The Flanked Center




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This is also a very flexible setup. As Skaanning pointed out to me: "If you involuntarily tend to give your opponents a headstart, then this is your opening." In a way, it is a Stonewall waiting to happen: the player just has not decided yet, whether to play d4 or e4. (He typically want to see first, what his opponent is up to.) But he may also choose not to advance the centerpawns e3 and d3 any further and attack on the kingside or the queenside instead.
Notice the knights. They can either be placed on c3 and e2 or on f3 and d2, depending on which square is available, d5 or e5. The queen is probably best placed on c2, and your king may again castle to either side.



- All the setups mentioned seem to be built around moves like c4 and f4? Is it bad to have a traditional center with e4 and d4?

- No, almost any setup built around e4 and d4 is strategically good. You grab a lot of space and control important squares. There is only one catch: In chess, you always have to give up on something, if you want to achieve a certain goal. In this case, you gain spatial advantage at the cost of stability. You HAVE to be faster than your opponent. Otherwises your fragile center is at high risk of crumbling to dust, leaving you a pawn down. Setups built around c4 and f4 also grab some space, but they are more solid and you normally do not find yourself in trouble just because your opponent plays faster than you in the opening.


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