Friday, July 2, 2010

A nasty trap in the Dutch

The Dutch Defense (1.d4 f5) is one of the most uncompromising defenses to 1.d4. A lot of people are afraid to play it because White has a lot of sharp ways to try to destroy it, such as the Staunton Gambit (2.e4), 2.Bg5, and 2.Nc3. Illinois master Alan Watson wrote a book in 1995 about various anti-Dutch gambits with g4, including 2.g4, 2.Qd3 d5 3.g4, and 2.h3 followed by 3.g4. If Black knows the theory, or can manage to find the right moves over the board, he or she can successfully counter all of White's sharp lines. If not, Black may be in for a nasty shock, as in the game below.

Take a look at the diagram position. White has sacrificed a pawn to obtain semi-open g and h files - sort of like a kingside Benko Gambit. At first glance, Black's last move, 5...Ng4-f6, might seem like a reasonable move, holding onto the extra pawn. At second blush, you realize that it is a terrible blunder, which is simply annihilated by White's sixth move, which mates or wins a rook.

Korchnoi introduced 2.h3!? and 3.g4 to modern master play in 1979, winning a crushing victory against the Swiss master Kaenel. The point is to avoid allowing Black to return the gambit pawn with a timely ...g3, e.g. 1.d4 f5 2.Qd3 d5 3.g4 hxg4 4.h3 g3 ("!" - Watson) 5.fxg3 Nf6 6.Bf4 c5 7.c3 Qb6 and Black stood well in Quigley-DeFotis, Midwest Masters 1985. It wasn't long before analysts found the strongest defense to Korchnoi's 2.h3. Well, actually rediscovered it - well over a century earlier Howard Staunton (yes, he of Staunton Gambit and Morphy-avoiding fame) had recommended declining White's gambit with 2...Nf6 3.g4 d5! 4.g5 Ne4, leading to an even game (The Chess Player's Handbook (1857!), pp. 381-82). One hundred and thirty-two years later, GM Larry Christiansen and IM Jeremy Silman recommended the same line (Dutch Defense (1989), p. 144), referring to 3...d5! as "Christiansen's move." Nothing new under the sun and all that.

5 comments:

GreenCastle said...

I like this trap. I won a game with these exact moves over a class player in some 2002 tournament, which made it into one of Bill Wall's books somehow.

My shortest USCF tournament win was well timed. It was the first round of the tournament and the time control was 40 in 120, SD 60. After 5 minutes I got to drive home and sleep.

Black can safely retreat 5...Nh6 (instead of 5...Nf6??) but no one ever played this against me. I suppose because anyone who has done any meaningful Dutch preparation will arrive at 3...d5 as the answer.

Bill Brock said...

How is chess different from soccer? In chess, the Dutch player makes the own goal.

Bill Brock said...

P.S.

Dr. Eugene Martinovsky played this gambit line against the Dutch: I'll look for some games....

Frederick Rhine said...

Martinovsky was apparently a frequent and very successful proponent of 2.g4!? against the Dutch. Alan Watson in The Anti-Dutch Spike has five games of Martinovsky's with that move, all of which he won, including one against Tibor Weinberger. As for 5...Nh6, John Watson in his new book Mastering the Chess Openings, Volume 4, p. 162, says it is "terrible" because of 6.Bxh6 gxh6 7.Qf5! threatening Qh5#. But Alan Watson (no relation, AFAIK) seems to consider 5...Nh6 best and deems 7.Qf5 only "interesting." They also differ on 5...g6, which John considers forced and Alan gives a question mark. After 5...g6, J. Watson says that 6.Rxh7!? Rxh7 7.Qxg6+ Rf7 8.Qxg4 is "probably somewhat better for White," and that 6.Nf3 and 6.Nh3 both "generate more than enough play for a mere pawn."

Frederick Rhine said...

As for shortest USCF tournament wins, mine went 1.f4 (now 1...d5 is a reversed Dutch) e5!? (the From Gambit) 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5!? 5.h3?? Bg3# Peter Napetschnig (1722, as I recall)-Rhine, Gompers Park Fall Championship 1977. Back in those days of 40/2 tournaments and analog clocks, the clock was often set at 3:59 to compensate for possible small defects in when the flag fell. When I delivered mate, my clock had not yet reached 4:00.