Friday, July 25, 2008

Win With the Stonewall Dutch

It's official!

On Gambit's homepage, there is now a list of their forthcoming books, including 'Win With the Stonewall Dutch'.

As usual it took me a second look to fully appreciate the cover artwork - at first the dominating grey looked a little drab. But now I'm convinced it will stand out in a positive way in the book stalls. I assume the artist is Wolff Morrow as for my previous books.

The title was as expected (I assume Gambit would have contacted me if there had been a substantial change from the working title) but I was a little surprised by the author part. It says 'Sverre Johnsen and Ivar Bern With a contribution by Simen Agdestein' but in my opinion '...With contributions by Simen Agdestein' would better describe the reality.

Also the publishing date (February 2009) was slightly surprising. I was expecting December 2008 but I can understand Gambit's conservative target date as our agreed deadline now has been overstepped by more than three weeks and they still have not received any final manuscript. That also explains the sparse updates of this blog!


Anonymous said...

I look forward to your new book. I really like the book you did on the Zaitsev.

Will you be covering early Dutch deviations, ie 2Bg5, 2Nc3, Staunton Gambit, etc?

Sverre Johnsen said...

I am glad you liked the Zaitsev book. This one will be quite different but I think it will be good.

Yes, we will cover White's early deviations. Chapters 8 to 12 will be on non-fianchetto lines. However, emphasis will be on the main lines.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Most Dutch books seem to cover all the deviations, usually with a repertoire, so more recommendations are always welcome.

Good luck with the book. I'll be sure to pick it up when it comes out.

Sverre Johnsen said...

The Dutch has always been a popular target for "opening surprises" - not only the fairly sensible ones you mention but also more peculiar ones like 2.h3, 2.Qd3 or 2.Nh3.

Fortunately it's tempting to provide a complete repertoire when you write on the Dutch - simply because it's possible within the page limits of a normal book. Consequently it takes quite a lot of research even for White to be well prepared after one of these second move surprises.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the cover design that much. I was wondering if you are planning to do any more chess books?

Sverre Johnsen said...

Well, that's obviously a matter of taste. I hope you will like the inside better!

Yes, I plan to write a few more chess books. But first I have a couple of updating projects I will finish.

If I find a suitable co-author I probably will write another 'Win with the...' book. This time for Black against 1.e4 - possibly on the Scandinavian.

But my main ambition now is to write a chess book on my own - without a titled co-author.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered doing a book in the chess explained series or some other series?

Sverre Johnsen said...

I like the best books in the Chess Explained series. However, these books should be a good selection of well annotated games by an expert on the variations in question.

In this setting my relatively low playing strength would be a serious problem and I would not be able to demonstrate my main strengths which I consider to be my experience in teaching, text structuring and my experience in opening research.

Anonymous said...

I have my EUR 24 set aside for the release date :)

I admit to not having any other of your books, but if this blog is anything to go by, I am sure I will enjoy it.

Sverre Johnsen said...

Thank you!

Sometimes I wonder whether this blog is a good advertisement for my books or the opposite. I cannot invest very much time in it and sometimes, like now, I simply have to neglect it.

In a week or two I will be blogging again.

Anonymous said...

Have you thought about doing a book covering how Black can meet all alternatives to the Ruy Lopez after 1 e4 e5 as a complement to your book The Ruy Lopez, A Guide for Black? Most of these lines are not super critical and you could probably do it on your own and wouldn't need a co-author. Maybe you could update John Emm's Gambit book, Play the Open Games as Black.

simon said...

Certainly look forward to this text - your co-authored Zaitsev book was highly impressive. Good team you hav assembled here again so the book will be keenly awaited by many.

As you note elsewhere on your interesting and informative blog, your comparatively low rating may indeed be a problem for (1)getting published on your own; (2)in resultant reviews and (3)in the eyes of discriminating potential readers. Minimum FM with main chess publishers I understand, usually IM though.

Ideally chess publishing is a combination of decent research, thoughtful pedagogy, all informed by a certain level of chess skill. The pedagogy is often lacking, alas.

Good luck with your continued chess efforts. I for one will be ordering the Stonewall text.


Sverre Johnsen said...


I don't really think Gambit wants a new book on the Open Games. Most of these lines are developing slowly and I think Emms' book is still selling well. If they want to update that book, they will certainly ask Emms to do the job.

I did indeed discuss briefly with Leif Johannessen to do a 'complete repertoire for Black after 1.e4 e5' and he showed some interest but concluded that he needed at least a year rest from chess book writing.

If I decide to write such a book, it will contain a suggestion for Black against the Ruy Lopez in addition to White's alternatives on his second and third move. This RL line would have to be less theoretical than the Zaitsev - possibly a rare 3rd or 4th move alternative. For the moment there is no such line that interests me much but that could change.

Sverre Johnsen said...


I hope the Stonewall book will not disappoint you. As the title suggests it will be somewhat closer to 'Win with the London System' than the Ruy Lopez book (but quite different from that too).

Your points 1-3 all represent challenges and may even work together. However, I feel fairly confident I can get a book published on Gambit provided it's a fitting subject and a well written manuscript. And even if I am the only author, I of course may hire GM assistance for certain subjects or for general advise.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that many of the alternatives to the Ruy Lopez after 1 e4 e5 are slowly developing. I think a new book on them would be fine.

Anonymous said...

Also, Emmes now works for Everyman chess so I don't think he would write a book for Gambit.

Anonymous said...

I tend not to play the Spanish these days, precisely because it can be so theory-heavy.

However, I have played a few games in what is called, I think, the Cozio and the Smyslov variation (3...Nge7 and 3..g6 respectively ). They tend to merge in the end, but it does make the opponent stop to think for a short while and certainly isn't over-burdened with theory.

Sverre Johnsen said...

Anonymous 1,

Which lines in the Open Games are developing rapidly now? In the nineties there were great developments in the Scotch and even the Evans Gambit thanks to Kasparov and some other top GMs tried to re-vitalize the Four Knights, the King's Gambit the Bishop's Opening and the Vienna but ultimately with little success.

The only major development I am aware of is that the Two Knights and in particular the Traxler may be facing problems thanks to fast and greedy silicone calculators.

Sverre Johnsen said...

Anonymous 2,

I don't know how Emms' is connected to Everyman. I assumed he was working on contracts and it's not that rare to see an author writing for several publishing companies.

Anyway, "Play the Open Games as Black" is Emms' intellectual property and I doubt Gambit can update the book without his consent.

Sverre Johnsen said...

Anonymous 3,
The Cozio variation (3...Nge7) is quite interesting and can be played also with ...Ng6 rather than ...g6. I believe it is quite sound and probably underestimated. Unfortunately it is a difficult line to play as Black tends to be a little cramped.

Possibly 3...Nd4 (Bird's) or 3...Bc5 (Classical) are easier choices but I think Black is in need of some improvement in a few critical lines.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Emms is a editor for Everyman.

On the 1 e4 e5 Forum under the post Beating The Open Games 2nd Edition, IM Jacob Aagaard said that Play the Open Games as Black is riddled with errors. If this is true, then that would mean it would need an update.

Sverre Johnsen said...

Well, if Emms is now a Everyman editor, he isn't likely to update his book for Gambit.

I wouldn't automatically accept a competitor's evaluation of 'Play the Open Games as Black' - even if Aagaard is a GM and not an IM. At least I would have liked a more specific description of the errors. Most of the Open Games' mainlines were well established at top level a hundred years ago, so I would expect the errors to be located in the minor lines.

Finally, for a publishing company I think the critical question for an update isn't whether there are recent developments or not, but whether the existing edition is selling well or not.

Tom Chivers said...

I like the cover!

Wolff said...

Hello Sverre!

I'm glad to see you liked the cover on 2nd look. It was one I had done a long time ago and was just waiting for a book to use it on. I posted it on a forum for feedback along with a bunch of other covers and the majority of people really liked it as best.

For quite a while I used a high-res version of it as wallpaper on my desktop ;-)

Sverre Johnsen said...

Hello Wolff!

Nice to see you drop by! Do you by any chance play the Stonewall Dutch?

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Generally I agree but when it comes to my mother's chess books collection, the exterior really is the only thing that counts!

Seriously, in my opinion your covers add value to Gambit's books as eye catchers and I appreciate to have your artwork on my books.

For me it's an extra bonus that the three covers (London, Ruy Lopez and Stonewall) match each others quite nicely - not too similar but still with connecting elements.

jorjao81 said...

Just found your website, hope you notice my post...

I'm very interested in your book on the Stonewall (need to finally settle on some defence against d4), but I wonder if you touch on the subject of 1. Nf3. I know one could say this is out of the scope of the book, but I really face some problems with this move. Ideally, i would like to play in such a way that, if white chooses to transpose to 1. d4, I'm still within me repertoire (in that case, Stonewall). The same goes for transposing to e4, wich can happen after for exemple 1. Nf3 (c4, e6) 2. e4.
I read somewhere that 1. Nf3 f5 2. d3 was supposed to be quite problematic for black...
Well, I think you get the gist of what I mean. Thanks in advance for your time, and good luck in your projects.

Sverre Johnsen said...


I don't really believe in settling on an opening in the sense of starting to play one and only one opening against 1.e4 or 1.d4. A certain amount of variety is healthy and makes preparation harder for your opponent. However, if you are rated below 1800 (and not a lot of your games end up in the databases) learning one opening well certainly is better than learning two poorly.

Anyway, you certainly should organize your repertoire so that White cannot trick you out of your preparations with 1.c4 or 1.Nf3 and our Stonewall book discusses the Stonewall set-up against 1.Nf3, 1.c4 and to some extent against 1.g3. But our suggestions are a bit more tentative than against 1.d4. This is partly philosophically motivated. 1.d4 weakens the square e4 and 1...f5 is a logical attempt to take advantage of this. 1.c4 and 1.Nf3 don't weaken d4, so against these moves 1...f5 is less well motivated. This argument applies also to 1.f4 (which in many ways is a logical choice if you enjoy playing the Dutch as Black).

If it otherwise fits into your repertoire, I think 1.Nf3 and 1.c4 is better met with 1...e6, planning 2...f5. However, I don't think 1.Nf3 f5 2.d3 is quite as dangerous as it has been hyped to be lately. 2...Nc6 is a good reply and Kindermann's 3.d4 is relatively harmless after 3...e6. You will find some analysis of this in the book.

jorjao81 said...

Thanks for your quick answer and thoughts. This reader writer interaction is very positive, i think.
I understand your point about having more than one weapon, but as a first choice I'd like one that doesn't get me easily move-ordered. But it does seem from your comment that that would not be the case, and I'd be happy to play e6 since i play the French so no problem if e4. But it's good to know the book will adress these issues, even if it's just giving pointers, not a detailed repertoire in this case.
Think you earned yourself a new reader ;-)

Sverre Johnsen said...

It's interesting that you bring up the reader/writer interaction. In our Stonewall book a main concern has been to activate the reader. This was natural as Bern is a psychologist specializing in teaching and learning and Agdestein for many years has been a chess teacher at the Norwegian Gymnasium for Top Athletes.

We consider our coming book a serious attempt to establish some interaction with the reader. In a strict sense this is close to impossible within the framework of a printed book. But we made our best by interspersing the text with Questions & Answers sections (although not to the same extent as Sadler in his book on the Queen's Gambit Declined) and we have tried to offer varied exercises (including suggested solutions).

Anonymous said...

Has this book been published yet ? It seems it has, as Amazon indicates it is out -of-stock, but the Gambit page has a not published legend ...?!

Sverre Johnsen said...


It has been delayed several times and is not yet published. As a matter of fact we received the proofs a week ago and I expect it will be available at the end of May (as announced by Gambit).

Anonymous said...

I will buy this book, but can You please give all data about games in book. I mean: name of white player, name of black player, tournament, year: in order to find all games in chess database. I'd like to use this book as reference in my correspondence chess game, which is already started :)

Sverre Johnsen said...

Hi Anonymous,

As a matter of fact I have exactly such a table, as I found it useful for getting an overview. It contains 3+64 games.

However, I don't think it would be right of me to publish such an overview without an explicit acceptance by my publishers (and I will not ask for one unless I have a very good reason).

Nevertheless I will consider sending you my game list if you leave your e-mail address in a comment. I will not publish it, just reply in a private e-mail.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I love the cover! I have always had difficulties facing 1.d4 because there are so many systems white can adopt!

An IM (friend of mine) has recommended the Dutch Stonewall to me and told me that this should be a complete repertoire vs 1.d4

He also said that an Exciting new book was coming out soon, and he cited your book!:))

So I am here now, and I have a couple of Questions:

1) Is the Dutch Stonewall a Universal System I can use vs an 1.d4, 1.Nf3 1.c4 openings?

2) I made my research because I like studying openings in great detail to play with confidence in international tournaments... and I noticed something which worries me a bit:

Most games in the Dutch Stonewall by strong players Do NOT start with the move order 1.d4 f5

the most common way is 1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 for example...

could it be that they avoid 1...f5 because they are afraid of 2.Bg5 2.Nc3 2.g4 2.h3 or something of the sort??

and does your book cover these early deviations in a way that I can play the Dutch Stonewall in complete confidence??

Thank you, I will be looking forward to your reply and will certainly get my hands on the book as soon as it is realeased!!

Sverre Johnsen said...


You will find some information about the Stonewall against 1.c4, 1.Nf3 and 1.g3 in an earlier comment in this thread. As you can see from the Table of Contents there is a separate Lesson on these moves. In short the Stonewall can be employed as an universal system but it's probably harder to handle for Black than the 1.d4 variety.

As for the move-order 1.d4 e6, this avoids a lot of strange positions. This can be seen as an advantage or and disadvantage, depending on your taste for early complications and the depth of your preparations. In addition 1...e6 has some independent value as 2.c4, 2.Nf3 and 2.g3 all have their disadvantages. This is fully covered in our book, and except for 2.e4 you will find all the information you need in order to play 1...e6 with confidence, including the line 2.Nf3 f5 3.d5.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I have received my copy of Win With the Stonewall Dutch a few days ago, and overall I'm very happy with it!

There are however some important points I would like to make...

in Lesson 2: after 7.b3 Qe7 8.Ne5! 0-0 9.Bg2... you do not recommend 9...b6 (although you leave options open and provide nice novelties - however the indication is that you are more fond of Theory B)

however there is an anomally!

in Lesson 1: 7.b3 Qe7 8.Bd2 you recommend 8...b6!? where play would "normally" continue with Qc1 etc..

well these two recommendations are unfortunately in contradiction on a repertoire basis... because it would let white out-manouvre black with:

7.b3 Qe7 8.Bg2 b6!? 9.Ne5! 0-0... where we have transposed to Theory A of Lesson 2!!!

( which was the less recommended line)

Therefore when building my repertoire file I had to ignore Lesson 2 Theory B - because I risk getting out-manouvred in move orders...

This seemed to be an anomally you have also noticed, because although in the illustrative games section of Lesson 1 you wrote that 7.b3 Qe7 8.Bg2 b6 was your recommendation...

in the Theory 1A section you put 7.b3 Qe7 8.Bg2 0-0 as the main line, which again is a contradiction... but would then fit in with Theory B of Lesson 2...

it took me 2/3 days to investigate these contradictions are build my repertoire around them, therefore I think it is quite a problem with the book...

HOWEVER!! I must say overall the book is absolutely GREAT the games are chosen with great purpose...showing black what could go wrong first and then moving on to better solutions... and finally summarised in a Theoretical section which encloses recommended lines...

very neat and adequate to building a complete repertoire vs 1.d4 and possibly 1.c4 and 1.Nf3 too

I hope you do not mind my constructive critisism, but my impression was that there is this contradiction between some recommended lines.

looking forward to reading your reply!

Sverre Johnsen said...


I may return to this comment later when I have had the time to study it properly. Just some quick thoughts:

There may be some minor inconsistencies between Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 as the first was primarily written by Simen and the second primarily by Ivar. I have tried to spot them and smooth them out but I may not have succeeded 100%. That being said I am not so sure this is a serious problem:

1) Based on the tentative conclusions in Exercise 2 I would say that our primary recommendation in Lesson 2 actually is 9...b6!? and that 2B is a back-up solution in case the untested analysis doesn't hold up to closer scrutiny. However, the student is encouraged to draw his own conclusions (as you evidently have done).

2) White's tries in Lesson 1 are generally harmless and leave Black a pleasant choice. His decision may be based on personal preferences, an evaluation of his opponent or on his tournament standing. Provided that he understands what he is doing, he can hardly go too wrong. Lesson 2 is another matter entirely and Black needs to prepare at least one line which he trusts and understands.

3) Repertoires will frequently be inconsistent in the sense that in a certain position you have a choice between a move X that will lead to a position you have to face anyway (by transposition) and a move Y which may be better but takes some effort to analyse. Your decision must depend on at least three factors:
- How much better can move Y really be?
- How complicated are the variations of move Y?
- How satisfied are you with the positions resulting from move X?

On a more general note:
Creating a repertoire database is very useful - some would even say mandatory - for the serious student. But when studying the Stonewall doing this too early could prove counter-productive if it narrows your approach to the subject. Studying interesting but slightly dubious or inferior lines for Black can actually deepen your understanding significantly.

Sverre Johnsen said...


When re-reading your comment and my reply I see that you fully appreciate the value of investigating less than perfect lines for Black.

My apologies!

Sverre Johnsen said...


You write:
'7.b3 Qe7 8.Bg2 b6!? 9.Ne5! 0-0... where we have transposed to Theory A of Lesson 2!!!'

I suppose you mean the line:
1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.Nf3 d5 5.0-0 Bd6 6.c4 c6 7.b3 Qe7 8.Bb2 b6 9.Ne5.

Now 9...0-0 would, as you point out, lead to a line of Lesson 2 which needs testing and may or may not be fine for Black.

However, in Game 3 (in the note to 9.Qc1) we recommend 9...Bb7, when 10.cxd5 cxd5 is fine for Black as there is no Nc4 option. Do you have a reason to prefer 9...0-0?

Anonymous said...

Dear Sverre!

Thanks for your replies!

Yes there is a reason for 9...0-0

the reason lies in the 7.Ne5 line...

where we play 7.Ne5 0-0 .... so a prepared white player may simply play:

7.Ne5 0-0 8.b3!? (rather than going for the Bf4 plan)

we would reply 8...Qe7 of course, and then once again we would reach the position with 9.Bb2 where black has already committed himself to 0-0!

therefore, the conclusion has to be this:

there are 3 lines which transpose and which white can use against black:

1) 7. Ne5 0-0 8.b3 Qe7 9.Bb2 where b6 leads to Theory 2A

2) 7.b3 Qe7 8.Ne5! 0-0 9.Bb2 b6 is the PURE Theory 2 A

3) 7.b3 Qe7 8.Bb2 b6 (as recommended) 9.Ne5! 0-0 once again Theory 2 A

on line 3... black should 0-0 because he can be forced to 0-0 anyway through line 1!

in line 2.. Moskalenko's move is not playable if you are chosing 8...b6 in line 3... otherwise once again which can get you in move orders.

I think that this is the reason why Vaisser (my Dutch Stonewall Hero) normally plays 8...b6 in line 2 playing b6 before 0-0 then fits into your Bb7 recommendation in line 3

But in any case one thing is for sure... if black wants to play b6 in any of these 3 lines... then he has to be prepared to face the PURE theory 2A or otherwise he has to study 3 different lines vs the three different move orders by white (which is impractical since white's plan is one and the same)

another appraoch may be to simply adopt Moskalenko's idea ALWAYS even vs less accurate move orders (since white might be doing so to lure us to Theory 2A)

and indeed Moskalenko always uses that setup.

Personally I have chosen Theory 2A as my base because your recommendations in Exercise 2 are very interesting! and also I am not that scared of going with the main line presented in Theory 2 A - i think that although it is += it is still playable for black...and that is the very worst case... in all deviations (even the main line with Nd2) black is equal! therefore I think there is no reason to adopt it as the main repertoire only because of one += line:))

However this is a totally subjective and personal opinion.

I would like to praise the book for actually having about 3 repertoires on the same opening! all enclosed in the same Great 221 pages!

As i said before i think the only problem is that the book does not distinguish clearly between there 3 sub repertoires and some less attentive readers may start using one line from one repertoire, and another line from a second repertoire... these readers risk being out manouvred in move order traps.

for example personally I do not recommend playing Moskalenko's idea vs LINE 2 if the reader is not going to adopt it otherwise he may reach positions of theory 2 A through LINE 1 ...

he may have thought he was avoiding theory 2A by chosing Moskalenko's ideas vs LINE 2, but might surprisingly find himself in the line he was trying to avoid through move orders in LINE 1 or 3.

therefore a clear cut choice is needed by the reader which means the reader has responsibility.

the good news is: this book is a great tool for the reader to make an informed choice and play the Stonewall Dutch to the highest levels!!!


Sverre Johnsen said...

Dear Anonymous,

7.Ne5 0-0 8.b3!? should have been mentioned in the book as it's a natural move which may have transpositional value. We probably missed it because it has only been played in two games, none of them by any particularly strong player.

If you like the 7.b3 Qe7 8.Ne5 b6 9.cxd5 exd5 lines, then you should indeed consider meeting 7.Ne5 0-0 8.b3 with 8...b6, as it transposes. However, I am not convinced that this is Black's best. Actually 8...Nbd7 seems stronger. Then 9.Nxd7 as well as 9.Ba3 will leave Black with the better development and he will probably find a good moment to play ...dxc4 followed by ...e5.

It may be possible to construct a completely consistent Stonewall repertoire (and I am sure you are doing a better attempt than most). But as both players can play their standard moves in almost any order and mix various modes of development, for most of us it's safer to assume that from time to time you will be move-ordered. For practical purposes that is no great problem if you have a basic understanding of all of Black's developing schemes within the Modern Stonewall - including the old-fashioned ones with ...Bd7-e8-h5 or ...Ne4 and ...Qe8-h5.

Anonymous said...

I suggest adding a facebook like button for the blog!

Anonymous said...

I've changed my mind and really like the cover design!(I agree that it takes some getting used to at first but after that it is really good)

Birk said...

A very good book with great games analysis is by Jacob Aagaard "Dutch Stonewall".