Sunday, March 04, 2012

The Stonewall in Black and White

The dream of a "universal system" is revived by GM David Smerdon in his blog post Revolutionise Your Tragedieswhere he offers two of his games with the Stonewall as Black and White.  He says he was inspired to try out the Stonewall by reading Revolutionize Your Chess -- combined with his desire to avoid too much theory.  As he writes: "With no time to study chess (and even less time to remember my old theory), it was time for me to start thinking practically about how to survive at the board.  I needed a system that wasn’t too susceptible to the latest novelties, that was easy to understand, and that was fresh enough to keep me interested.  No mean feat."  When I read his post, I had just started looking at the Dutch myself and I was also starting to think that I should try to de-emphasize opening study and learn to just "play chess."  So I thought I'd also try "going Stonewall."  Hence this bibliography of sources on "The Stonewall in Black & White" to aid my studies -- and yours.

The main advantage of all opening systems is that it's easy to figure out what to do in the opening stages, especially since each piece has a preferred square.  In the Stonewall as White, you generally want to play pawns to d4, e3, f4, and c3 and place your pieces into the logical places around that structure: Bd3, Nbd2, O-O, and Nf3 (followed typically by Ne5), with various plans for the other pieces depending on your opponent's choices.  The dark squared Bishop (or light squared Bishop for Black) is often a problem, but it can find play either by Bd2-e1-h4 or by b3 with either Bb2 or Ba3 to follow.  Pretty much the same set-up is possible from the Black side.  Of course, you cannot play these moves on auto-pilot and you need to be aware of various replies that will dictate a different course of action.  But it is pretty straight-forward in the early stages.  It's also relatively easy to learn the standard middle-game plans that result from the pawn structure, so you will never be completely adrift in the strategic positions that result.  

There are other potentially universal systems, of course, but the Stonewall is very attractive by comparison.  For example, a different f4/f5 universal system called the "Polar Bear" is advocated by GM Henrik Danielsen. For those interested in exploring the line, he has produced a number of videos and a game of Danielsen's with it is analyzed by James Vigus in "Beware the Polar Bear!" (an excerpt from Dangerous Weapons: Flank Openings).  The Polar Bear is essentially a reversed Leningrad Dutch, so you can combine it with the Leningrad as Black to create a universal system (except against 1.e4).  The Stonewall may not be as dynamic as its Polar cousin, but it seems a little more solid and has a few other potential advantages for those who want to limit their theory intake.  Most importantly, to reach the Leningrad or Polar Bear you pretty much have to open with 1...f5 as Black or 1.f4 as White, which is not to everyone's taste, especially as there are so many anti-Dutch and anti-Bird lines to contend with that you will rarely reach your intended system, especially at the amateur level.  With the Stonewall as White, however, 1.f4 is certainly a possible route, but 1.d4 is the most common and solid path; and as Black you can open in a number of ways, including any of the pawn moves in the formation: 1...d5, 1...e6, or 1...f5.  What's more, if you play the French against 1.e4, then you can make 1...e6 your universal reply as Black, reaching a French or Dutch Stonewall in almost all of your games.  So it definitely fits the bill as an "anti-theory" weapon.

In the past few years there have been a number of excellent publications devoted to the Stonewall, so you have many good choices among books, DVDs, and online sources to learn from -- all listed in reverse chronological order below.  I have tried to be thorough, but as always I invite additions and comments from readers.  

Stonewall Defense as Black
I always find that the best way to learn a new opening is to play over as many games as possible to begin to absorb ideas and patterns. offers a number of useful collections, which include Dutch StonewallDutch Stonewall, Stonewall Dutch, Stonewall, Stonewall, and my own Dutch Stonewall Intro (mentioned again below).  You can also access a lot of games via their guide Chess openings: Dutch, Stonewall (A95).  There are a number of PGN files online, including a collection of classic games at the Pitt Archive

Attacking the Slav Stonewall [A84] by Abby Marshall at ChessCafe (January 2012)
Written from White's perspective, Marshall's article focuses on the g4 attack.  A useful article for those seeking to reach the Stonewall via the Slav move order.

The Triangle System by Ruslan Scherbakov (Everyman Chess 2012).  See especially Chapter 18 "The Triangle Stonewall," pp. 329-354.  Analyzes the most challenging lines White can throw at Black if he chooses to enter the Stonewall via a Semi-Slav move order, especially the dangerous lines with an early g4 (made possible by the fact that White has not played Nf3).  

"A Strategic Counterargument" by Viktor Moskalenko New in Chess Yearbook 102 (2012) 

"Joyas Del Pasado: Una bella partida" by Jorge Luís Fernández (Inforchess 2012).  Analyzes the classic game Burn - Tarrasch, Vienna 1898.

"The Catalanized Dutch" by Viktor Moskalenko New in Chess Yearbook 101 (2011) 

"The Right Hook" by Maxim Chetverik & Alexander Raetsky New in Chess Yearbook 99 (2011) 

The Dutch Stonewall by Valeri Lilov (ChessBase 2011)
Reviewed by Dowd and others.  I was rather disappointed at first to see that quite a bit of this DVD focuses on lines where Black plays Be7 rather than the more "modern" approach of Bd6.  But I still found it useful for my studies.

"Excelling with the Modern Stonewall" by FM Valeri Lilov ( 2010)

The Bad Stonewall Bishop by Nigel Davies at ChessCafe (2010)
Considers games from the White perspective where Black's light-squared bishop gets walled in.

"SOS: Desastres en la Apertura" by Jorge Luís Fernández (Inforchess 2010).  Disaster for Black using Be7 in the Stonewall.

Win with the Stonewall Dutch by Sverre Johnsen, Ivar Bern, and Simen Agdestein (Gambit 2009).  Lead author Sverre Johnsen's blog, Sverre's Chess Corner, is an excellent continuing resource on these lines and on his books.  Reviewed by HansenWatson, and McGeary among others.  The book rightly features the games of co-author Agdestein, well known as a former footballer and an early coach of Magnus Carlsen.  The focus is on the Modern Stonewall with Bd6, along with excellent coverage of how to meet anti-Stonewall lines (typically in very Stonewall-like fashion). The most dense with theory of any book available, but very worth having if only as a reference.  Download the table of contents and a sample from the book from Gambit Publications or Inforchess.  Highly recommended.

Revolutionize Your Chess by Viktor Moskalenko (New in Chess 2009) reviewed by Dowd and others.  Chapter 9 on the Stonewall Dutch offers a very interesting (if highly personal) discussion of the Stonewall as Black, using only the author's games as illustration.  The book itself has garnered mixed reviews, but I am very impressed by its focus on a few ideas that seem quite important to all players -- including King and Pawn endings, Bishop vs. Knight, Rook and Pawn endings, the IQP, and various openings with a strategic character.  Featured games in the Stonewall chapter include Petrosian - Moskalenko 1988, Kantsler - Moskalenko 1990, Torrecillas Martinez - Moskalenko 2004, Persson - Moskalenko 2003, Gonzalez Rodriguez - Moskalenko 2005, Pogorelov - Moskalenko 2000, Burmakin - Moskalenko 2006, Raisky - Moskalenko 1988, Peralta - Moskaleno 2004, Iturrizaga Bonelli - Moskalenko 2009, Fluvia Poyatos - Moskalenko 2008, Peek - Moskalenko 2007, van Wely - Moskalenko 2004, Matamoros Franco - Moskalenko 2004, and Gorbatov - Moskalenko 2002. Highly recommended.

A Key Encounter in the Slav Stonewall by Alexey Kuzmin at ChessBase (2009)
Excellent analysis and multiple game references, all available in java replay.  An excellent resource for those interested in the Slav path to the Stonewall.  Highly recommended.

The Battering Ram by Vinay Bhat ( 2009)

Learning the Dutch Defense by Michael Aigner (PDF 2009).  A useful pamphlet to print out that offers students an introduction to the Dutch, including the Stonewall.

Aronian - Morozevich, Tal Memorial 2009 annotated by Guillermo Soppe (Inforchess 2009).

"Lecciones de Estrategia: La Importancia del Desarrollo" by IM Luis Sieiro González (Inforchess 2009).  Analyzes an interesting game whereby Black plays an early Bg4 followed by setting up a Stonewall with the Bishop outside of the pawn chain.  It's a loss for Black in the end, but González explores some better alternatives.

Playin' at the Riviera by IM Mark Ginsburg (2008)
Offers notes on several games of the author's from a tournament in 2001, the first of which features the Dutch Stonewall.

Stonewall II by Jacob Aagaard (Quality Chess 2007)
I have not seen this book but understand it is an updated and expanded version of the 2000 book from Everyman Chess (see below).  I can only find it from German book sellers and have not been able to examine this item.

Stonewall Dutch DVD by Andrew Martin (Foxy Videos, undated)
I have not seen this item yet.

"Joyas Del Pasado: Portisch - Spassky" by Jorge Luís Fernández (Inforchess 2007).  Analyzes a losing classical Stonewall with Be7 in a rapid game between two old greats.

"Attacking the Slav Stonewall" by Sergey Volkov, in SOS #4 (2006): 35-40.  A short article on the 5.g4 attack, which has since been widely seen as White's most challenging idea vs. the Slav Stonewall move order.  Features the games Volkov - Landa 1997, Volkov - Malakhov 2001, Volkov - Kobalia 2005, and Grebionkin - Guliev 1999.

Starting Out: Dutch Defence by Neil McDonald (Everyman 2005)
You can find a good collection of games from the book at

Learning the Dutch Defense by Michael Aigner (2005).  A very useful introduction to the Dutch for students in html.  See PDF above, which is an updated version.

Filippov - Iljushin, Russia ch semi-final, Kazan (1) 2005 annotated by Boris Schipkov (Chess Siberia 2005)

"The review 2 numbers of the newspaper '64' for MAY, 1936" by Boris Schipkov.  Includes notes on Kotov - Bondarevsky, Leningrad 1936.

Nei - Bronstein, USSR-ch31, Leningrad 1963 annotated by Boris Schipkov.  A classical Stonewall game with good notes.

"Ideas in the Dutch Stonewall" by IM David Vigorito ( 2005)

Exeter Chess Club: Dutch Stonewall by David Regis (January 25, 2004)

Identity by Gary Lane at ChessCafe (August 2003)
Offers some interesting commentary from the White perspective on how to meet the Stonewall when playing a Colle.

Dutch Stonewall by Jacob Aagaard (Everyman 2000). I have collected most of the games from Aagaard's Introduction in the collection Dutch Stonewall Intro by Aagaard, which should give you some sense of the thoroughness of his treatment.  Reviewed by Hansen, Bauer, and others.  What I like most about Jacob Aagaard's opening books is that he always includes an extensive discussion of themes and ideas.  I was especially impressed in this regard by his book on the Panov-Botvinnik Attack against the Caro-Kann.  Here he does it again, with a truly outstanding introduction which is worth the price of the book itself (especially if you are lucky enough to get it used, as I did).  Though there are more up-to-date books, you have to ask yourself if you really want to get immersed in the latest theory or if you want to learn themes and ideas and then find your own way.  If you choose the latter, then this book is a must-have.  Might be available online.  Highly recommended.

The Modern Stonewall Dutch by Andrew Martin (Foxy DVD)
Foxy Chess videos volume #93.  Not well reviewed.

Stonewall Dutch (Foxy DVD) by Nigel Davies
Foxy Chess videos volume #48.

Blockading Passed Pawns by Mark Dvoretsky at ChessCafe (April 2001)
Excellent commentary on an interesting Stonewall Dutch lost by Black after thematic errors.

"With Ng1-h3" by Kick Langeweg New in Chess Yearbook 55 (2000) 

"A Straightforward Way to Combat the Stonewall" by Lars Bo Hansen New in Chess Yearbook 47 (1998) 

Karpov - Anand, Wijk aan Zee 1998 by Yasser Seirawan at ChessCafe

The Dutch Stonewall (archived) by Dr. Dave from the Exeter Chess Club (1997).  Covers the Stonewall in Black and White.

"Modern Treatments of the Dutch Defence" by Igor Khenkin and Vladimir Kramnik in Positional Play, Edited by Mark Dvoretsky (Batsford 1996): 205-231.  This work was later updated (mostly to make corrections) and republished as Secrets of Positional Play.  The original volume which I cite is available online and at used bookstores, but currently out of print.  The chapter starts with Khenkin's games as White against the Dutch (which feature g3, Bg2 and Nh3 and a game with Nc3 without c4) while the majority of the article (pages 214 - 231) features Kramnik discussing various games, including his own, with the Stonewall Dutch as Black.  He covers various set-ups and attempts by White, and Black is doing fine in all cases.  He generally recommends b6 and Bb7 to deal with the light-squared Bishop, which he prefers over Bd7-e8-h4.  Featured Stonewall games include Khenkin - Tukmakov 1991, Akopian - Ulybin 1991, Akopian - Kramnik 1991Chiburdanidze - Agdestein 1988, Tukmakov - Agdestein 1987, Petursson - Dolmatov 1988, Petursson - Short 1987, Georgiev - Knaak 1987, Van Wely - Kramnik 1990 (which I have discussed in an article on Bishop Endings), Nikolic - Salov 1987, Kalinichev - Glek 1987, Shabalov - Vyzhmanavin 1987, Beliavsky - Van der Wiel 1990, Novikov - Kramnik 1991.  There are many more games in the notes.  Definitely worth tracking down, though hardly indispensable.

"Theory - More than Just a Defence?" by Daniel Vanheirzeele New in Chess Yearbook 14 (1989)

Speelman - Seirawan, St. John 1988 by Yasser Seirawan at ChessCafe
What starts out as a well-played game by Black turns into a nightmare after a series of blunders.

Stonewall Attack as White
The Stonewall as White last enjoyed popularity in the 19th Century, but in modern times, with the improvement in defensive technique for Black, it has mostly become an amateur favorite -- rather like the Colle system.  Of course, it remains solid and unrefuted, but you have to be prepared for various defensive tries by Black which may push you in a different direction.  For instance, against 1.d4 d5 2.e3 Bf5!? White does best to switch to a Queen's Gambit with 3.c4, trying to exploit the early Bishop move as White usually does against the Baltic Defense.  There is a very interesting discussion of The Queen's Pawn Family by Sverre Johnsen that suggests some interesting move orders for reaching the Stonewall.

You can find several collections of classic Stonewall games at Ware Wins StonewallsRookington's Stonewall Attack GamesHarry Nelson Pillsbury, and HarryP's Stonewall Collection.

Queen Pawn System: Stonewall and Colle-Zukertort by IM Andrew Martin (FoxyDVD Volume #135 2012)
Please note that this DVD only plays on your computer, not on a DVD player -- or, at least, not on my DVD player.  This was a bit of a disappointment for me, really, especially since the video is basically a 120 minute straight presentation like you would expect from a DVD you can watch on TV.  I give you this warning mostly because there is no documentation with the DVD suggesting "system requirements," and it was something of a surprise for me since I have generally been able to watch Foxy DVDs on my DVD player.  Of course, I also watch them on my computer, so I adjusted.  And I enjoy videos on the computer or TV, mostly because they give me a good overview of an opening without having to set up a board or even focus a lot.  So they are good to look at while exercising or doing other things.  Martin offers a thoughtful opening repertoire that recognizes that the Stonewall is not so strong against certain Black set-ups and therefore White needs to switch to a Zukertort or other line to have a chance at an edge.  I think his overall repertoire is very sound, and (as he points out) the Stonewall is solid enough that you can afford a slow or mistaken move without getting in trouble, which makes it a good system for developing players. Stonewall games include Frometa Castillo - Ulloa and Ovezova - Lee Soi Hock.

Dealing with d4 Deviations: Fighting the Trompowsky, Torre, Blackmar-Diemer, Stonewall, Colle and other problem openings by John Cox (Everyman 2005).  Though the Stonewall is mentioned in the subtitle, this book only offers a single page of analysis on the opening.

Stonewall Attack - Sac to Attack by NM William Stewart (2011)
A four-part article and video series on the Stonewall as White for amateur players.  An excellent introduction to the Stonewall from a site worth knowing about and visiting often.  Highly recommended.

Beating the Anti-Indians from the Exeter Chess Club (2010)
Features two methods of combating the Stonewall for Black.

Running into a Stonewall at GameKnot (no date)
A "chess movie" of a Horowitz win that illustrates the classic Stonewall attack.

Yaacov Norowitz's Lecture on the Stonewall Attack by Michael Goeller (2006)
Based on a lecture by ICC Super-GM Yaacov Norowitz at the Kenilworth Chess Club on the Stonewall as White, which he has played successfully for many years against some of the best players in the world.  Includes supplemental games: Yaacov's Selected Stonewall Games on ICC and Supplemental Stonewall Games.  Highly recommended (of course!)

Analysis of NN-Roq: Stonewall Attack, Josh Specht
A video that did not allow embedding.

IM Mark Diesen, Winning with the Stonewall Attack, Santasiere vs. Welch ( 2006)

Bird's Opening by Timothy Taylor (Everyman 2005).  Reviewed by Hansen, Jeffries, Donaldson, and others.  This excellent book on the Bird almost convinces me that 1.f4 is a viable approach to the Stonewall.  I'm especially impressed by Taylor's antidotes to various anti-Bird systems, especially the dangerous From's Gambit. That said, he does not offer very thorough treatment of the Stonewall, probably because he thinks it "does not, objectively, give White any advantage" and that it is "the least important of all the reversed Dutch / Bird systems" (122). The section on the Stonewall features the games Taylor - Khachyan 2005 (rapidplay), Bronstein - Visier Segovia 1972, and Danielsen - Halldorsson 2002.  

The Stonewall by Jon Edwards from Chess is Fun (2004)
Covers the anti-Stonewall strategy of Rg8 and g5, opening the g-file, with one of the author's games and a collection of 100 additional games with the same theme.  Worth knowing as White.

Exeter Chess Club: Dutch Stonewall, Playing Black against QP openings, An Exeter Junior Chess Club Booklet (PDF) by David Regis (2004)

"Cómo ganar a un Gran Maestro de carne y hueso y al monstruito de silicio Hiarcs 9" by Miguel Angel Gutiérrez Roche (Inforchess 2004).  Offers one of the author's successful blitz games against Hiarcs 9 using the Stonewall as White.

How to Use Computers to Improve Your Chess by Christian Kongsted (Gambit 2003), pp. 74-86 especially.  The section on "How to Beat the Computer" includes discussion of the Stonewall as White with two of the author's games against Fritz 6.

Discussion Game 1 and Discussion Game 2 by David Surratt and Keith Hayward (2003)
Two games featuring the Stonewall for White from a 2001 correspondence match.  Includes Java replay.

The Chess Player's Battle Manual by Nigel Davies (Batsford 1998/2000).  Chapter 4 of the book, titled "Defusing the 1.d4 Charge," focuses on ways of playing against the Stonewall Attack and other Queen Pawn attacking lines as Black, which Davies sees as quite dangerous, especially at the amateur level.  As he writes: "White plays something like d2-d4, e2-e3, Bd3, Nd2, possibly f2-f4 and then Ngf3 before planting his f3-knight on e5, castling short and then switching his rook on f1 to f3 and even h3.  An additional pawn push with g2-g4-g5 might also be incorporated and White might have developed his queen's bishop on g5 before playing e3 and f4."  According to Davies, this attack "can prove quite devastating if Black doesn't handle it right.  In fact, in practice he very rarely defends against this plan accurately."  Many games cited are not available in databases, but those that can be located include Webster - Ciganikova 1993, Carty - Connelly 1996 and Carty - Hearns 1997 (discussed here), Spassky - Petrosian 1966Marshall - Rubinstein 1908Tarrasch - Chigorin 1895Tinsley - Tarrasch 1895Gottschall - Schlechter 1900Gunsberg - Chigorin 1890, and Gudmundsson - Fischer 1960.  I like Davies's style and there is a lot to like about this book.

How to Beat Your Computer by Mig (1997)
A bit dated, but the Stonewall Attack games are interesting and demonstrate how the strategic nature of the line can really confuse computers (as Kongsted, above, also shows).  It would be interesting to see how far computers have come in dealing with the challenges posed by the Stonewall.

The Dutch Stonewall by Dr. Dave from the Exeter Chess Club (1997).
Discusses the Stonewall as White and Black.

The Stonewall Attack by Andy Soltis (Chess Digest 1993)
This classic text on the Stonewall Attack for White is out of print but worth having if you can track down a copy.  The Stonewall Attack - Soltis offers some of the featured games in the book.  Might be found online.  Highly recommended.

White Opening System Combining the Stonewall Attack, Colle System, Torre Attack by Andy Soltis (Chess Digest 1992)

How to Think Ahead in Chess by Al Horowitz and Fred Reinfeld (Fireside 1951/1971), especially pp. 6-54.
This was my first opening book, and it offers some solid lifetime lines.   There are only a handful of games in each chapter, but each game is discussed at great length, with extensive explanations.  It covers the Stonewall Attack, Sicilian Dragon, and Lasker's Defense.  Stonewall games include Horowitz - Amateur 1950, Kujoth - Crittenden 1949, and Kmoch - Nagy 1926.  This book holds up remarkably well despite its age, and it is worth having if you can tolerate the English descriptive notation.


MNb said...

You better not play the Stonewall after 1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.Nf3 d5 as 5.Bf4 is close to winning. White's plan is 6.e3, 7.Bd3, 8.Qc2 and 9.g4.

Robert Pearson said...

Hi Michael--Part II of the Best of Chess Blogging
is now posted! Your are featured, but this post is so epic I may have to revise...

Anonymous said...

There is a good video by GM Eugene Perelshteyn on the Stonewall for Black, and you can see a preview here:

Michael Goeller said...

Yes, and he also has done a recent series of videos at

Michael Goeller said...

I recently discovered NM William Stewart's excellent book Chess Psychology: The Will to Win! (Everyman 2013), which offers a complete repertoire built around the Stonewall for White, as described in his videos see above). You can get a preview of the Stonewall online:

The book also offers some excellent advice for studying chess and would be a good choice for beginner to expert players.

Michael Goeller said...

Vincent Moret's "My First Chess Opening Repertoire for Black" (New in Chess 2017) offers a pretty good intro to the Stonewall for amateurs in about 40 pages with 15 games and some good strategic explanations. Excellent for players below 2000.

Anonymous said...

The excellent Jon Edwards theme of g5 for Black in the Stonewall should be in the Stonewall as Black section.