by Steve Lopez

The Dutch Defense (1.d4 f5) is a pretty uncompromising Black response to 1.d4. You don't get to play an "exchange variation" (unless you're heavily into unsound gambits) or swap Queens and hoover the board to get to a quick endgame. You need to be up on your tactics as well as be familiar with the strategic ideas of the Dutch.

Those ideas are what Boris Schipkov provides on his new ChessBase CD, Dutch Defense: A90-A99. The first of a planned series of CDs on the Dutch, this CD covers the Black ...e6 lines (ECO codes A90-A99): the Stonewall Variation and the Ilyin-Zhenevsky Variation (planning an eventual ...e5 after ...d6).

To describe the general idea of this CD, I'll let the author speak for himself:

It is not easy to make a quick draw in the Dutch for the first player. So the Dutch ideally suits for the tournament situation when we must play for a victory with Black or we play with a rival who likes a dry ending.

The Dutch Defence is the opening for the player with great fighting spirit and [a] nice understanding of position. A distinctive feature of the Dutch should be noted: winning often depends on good strategical ability.

We see the Dutch Stonewall A90-A99 is a very interesting opening because it combines many strategic ideas and many tactical possibilities for Black and White. Black can gladly attack on the kingside or battle for the initiative in the centre and on the queenside. Some ideas and manoeuvres are tricky and wise, some are super long.

In particular the Dutch Stonewall set-up is one of the best system[s] against computer programs. The gradually oncoming pawns chain on the kingside with long attack is not comprehensible for the computer programs.

Schipkov follows the now-standard pattern for ChessBase opening training CDs: he emphasizes ideas rather than rote memorization of variations. In fact, a whole chapter of this CD is devoted to basic strategic ideas. In this chapter, the author provides several standard strategic themes accompanied by one or more annotated key sample games to illustrate the themes in action.

Let's have a look at the CDs table of contents to get an idea of what's in store for us in the seventeen chapters included on the CD:

  1. Dutch Stonewall: General Introduction
  2. Basic Strategic Ideas
  3. Modern Stonewall I
  4. Modern Stonewall II Variation 7.b3
  5. Variation 4...Bb4+
  6. Variations 4.Bg2 c6 5.Nh3 and 4...d5 5.Nh3
  7. Rare Variations after 4...Be7
  8. Alekhine Variation
  9. Classical Stonewall I
  10. Classical Stonewall II
  11. Classical Stonewall III Variation 8.Ba3
  12. Classical Stonewall IV Variation 7.Nc3 c6
  13. Ilyin-Zhenevsky Variation I
  14. Ilyin-Zhenevsky Variation II 7...Qe8
  15. Ilyin-Zhenevsky Variation III 8.Qc2
  16. Ilyin-Zhenevsky Variation IV 8.b3
  17. Dutch Stonewall: Conclusion
Each chapter contains text explanations of the basic ideas of each variation, along with links to important annotated games and opening key links (which bring up a list of all games containing that subvariation, making it easy to pull up just the games you want to study).

There are 57 games annotated by Shipkov in the database (which contains over 14,500 games total). There are over 300 annotated games in the database, with noted commentators such as Minev, Dautov, Ribli, Ftacnik, Lautier, and Kasparov also weighing in with their ideas. The database also contains an extensive opening key so that you can find the games of a particular variation quickly and easily.

Once you've completed the instructional part of the database, you can load a separate training database. This contains twenty complete games which utilize timed training questions that allow you to test your knowledge of these Dutch variations. There's also an extensive opening book which contains over 230,000 unique positions. You can use this book as a statistical study tool or as a means of searching for games which contain a particular position. You can also load this CD as an opening book for the Fritz family of playing programs, forcing the chessplaying engine to play nothing but these Dutch variations. This is an excellent way to practice the Dutch in preparation for using it as part of your own opening repertoire.

And, as is the case with other ChessBase training CDs, Dutch Defense: A90-A99 is self-contained -- it comes with the ChessBase Reader software, so no additional software is required to read and use this CD. However, owners of ChessBase or the Fritz family of playing programs will certainly want to use them instead of the Reader (because of the additional beneficial features present in the full versions of our programs).

Whether you're interested in ideas in the Dutch Stonewall from White or Black's perspective (both are covered on the CD), I encourage you to give Schipkov's Dutch Defense: A90-A99 a look; your understanding of this opening will certainly improve as a result.

Until next week, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments, suggestions, and analysis for Electronic T-Notes.