Magazine article The Spectator

Double Dutch

Magazine article The Spectator

Double Dutch

Article excerpt

One of the most fascinating nuggets of information to emerge from the computer revolution in chess has been the realisation that it takes quite a lot to lose a game of chess. In the past it was thought that one tiny error - imperceptible to the non-grandmasterly eye - would be sufficient for a strong player to convert a position into victory. Now we know that the board is far more packed with resource than had been dreamt of in our philosophy.

I used to believe - for example - that the Dutch Defence, 1d4 f5, was virtually a forced loss for Black as a result of the premature weakening of the king's field. Now we know better and this aggressive counter-attacking line has achieved full respectability in a number of its manifestations. A new book by Neil McDonald (Starting Out: the Dutch Defence, Everyman Chess, £12.99) reveals its hidden strengths and defensive potential.

Gallagher-Williams: Isle of Man 2001; Dutch Defence

1 d4 f5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 e6 4 Nf3 Be7 5 0-0 0-0 6 c4 d6 7 Nc3 a5 This move turns out to be a necessary part of Black's strategy. 8 Re1 After 8 Qc2 Nc6! the a5-pawn shows its worth: 9 d5 Nb4 or 9 c4 Nb4 10 Qe2 Nxc4 11 Nxe4 fxe4 12 Qxe4 e5!, intending 13 . . . Bf5, activates Black's game. 8 . . . Ne4 9 Qc2 Nxc3 10 Qxc3 Nc6 In an earlier game, Simon Williams played 10 . . . c6, which looked harmless hut turned out to be a devilish trap after White's obvious reply: 11 e4? (11 c5!? is more circumspect) 11 . . . d5!! and White loses a pawn (12 exd5 Bb4). In the game there followed 12 a3 dxe4 13 Ne5 (Diagram 1) 13 . . . Bb4!! 14 axb4 axb4 15 Rxa8 bxc3 and White had dropped a lot of material in B.Balogh-S.Williams, Budapest 1994. 11 e4 e5 12 exf5 Thanks to the pawn on a5 White cannot snatch the pawn on e5: after 12 dxe5 dxe5 13 Nxe5?? Black can settle the matter beyond doubt with 13 . . . Bb4. …

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