Saturday, October 10, 2009

Stonewall Omissions III

In the long and somewhat tangled Chess Publishing Forum thread on our Stonewall book, there is a question about move-orders in the 2.Nc3 line: How should Black react to 1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 d5 4.e3!? (Dia), planning a delayed capture on f6 and possibly saving a tempo by keeping the bishop on f1 (planning to meet ...Na6 with Bf1xa6 rather than Bd3xa6).

This question is justified as the move 4.e3 is not even mentioned in our book. It has been played quite frequently but doesn't seem to have much independent significance against our suggested plan of action. After the consistent 4...c6 I would think that White's best try for an edge is transposing back to 4.Bxf6 lines with 5.Bxf6 exf6 6.Qf3 g6. However, there are a few independent tries:
This is TalJechin's main suggestion. As far as I can see (I am having some minor problems with my ChessBase installation) the move is untested. It indeed makes some sense as the queen quite often goes to f3 in the 4.Bxf6 lines. However, the queen move isn't highly evaluated by Rybka and seems to fail achieving anything for quite concrete reasons (given below).
Other tries are:
a) After 5.Bd3 Na6, 6.Bxf6 or 6.Bxa6, probably transposing to lines covered in the book appears best as 6.Qf3 Ne4! looks strong.
b) 5.h3 looks very slow. However, after 5...Na6 6.Bxa6 actually gains a tempo over some lines where White plays Bf1-d3xa6, so Black may prefer 5...Qa5!?, hoping to use the ...Ba3 trick suggested elsewhere in the book after 6.Bxf6 exf6.
c) Other moves like 5.Nf3, 5.Nh3, or 5.Qd2 are certainly possible but I fail to see any clear idea behind them.
I am not convinced that 5...Qa5!? 6.Bxf6 exf6 7.O-O-O b5!? 8.Bxb5!? is quite as strong as Rybka thinks it is. But why go deeply into lines like that when the active knight move looks so simple and strong?
After 6.h4, 6...Qb6 looks stronger than the immediate capture on c3.
Also 6...dxe4 7.Qh3 Qa5+ 8.c3 Be6, planning ...Bf7 and ...h6 looks OK.
7.Qg3 Qa5+ 8.c3 Bf5 (Dia)

The position is quite interesting but I think it's already possible to conclude that Black is fine as he has more space and is not behind in development.

So, is this an omission?
Yes, probably it is. Foreseeing that a reader would be curious about the untested 5.Qf3 and related lines would have been quite difficult. But there should at least have been a sentence saying something like 'After 4.e3 c6, White probably has nothing better than 5.Bxf6, transposing back to our main line'.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Check Chess Check

I am still too busy for any substantial blog entries. However, this time I am very pleased to refer to another site. The Chess Check site which seems to be based on their monthly Chess Check e-zine was brought to my attention by Gambit's infopage on 'The Ruy Lopez: a Guide for Black', which quoted John Lee Shaw's review of that book. I enjoyed the review, which had a nice personal touch, as well as the rest of their e-zine.

I already look forward to their October Issue which is planned for October 31st!

Addendum November 2nd
I am happy to note that the October issue was delivered on time and seems to be another enjoyable publication.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Five Stars from Carsten Hansen

In his October book review at Chess Cafe, Carsten Hansen gives five stars (out of five possible) to 'Win with the Stonewall Dutch'. I shall not give lengthy quotations as it's all available online but I can't resist duplicating his conclusion:

This book is incredibly well-written and it makes the theory of this opening extremely accessible. The authors are honest and objective in their appraisal of the individual lines, which makes the book a perfect tool for the study of this fascinating opening. If you have not already bought this book, it is time to do so now. For those who need a new weapon against 1 d4, this book makes an excellent case for it to be the Stonewall Dutch.

My assessment of this book: *****

As this in my opinion was the voice of the last of the major chess book reviewers, I will not be holding my breath for any more reviews. But if I should stumble upon any more, I most likely will mention it in this blog. 
In a week or two I probably will take up my normal (irregular) blogging again - hopefully with some analytical content.