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Dutch Defence

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The Dutch Defence is a chess opening characterised by the moves 1.d4 f5 (in algebraic notation). Elias Stein (17481812), an Alsatian who settled in The Hague, recommended the defence as the best reply to 1.d4 in his 1789 book Nouvelle essai sur le jeu des échecs, avec des réflexions militaires relatives à ce jeu.

Black's ...f5 stakes a serious claim to the e4 square and looks towards an attack on White's kingside in the middlegame. However, it weakens Black's own kingside somewhat, and does nothing to contribute to Black's development. As of 2005, the defence is unpopular in top-level play. The Dutch has never been one of the main lines against 1.d4, though in the past a number of top players, including Alexander Alekhine and Bent Larsen, have used it with success. Perhaps its high-water mark occurred in 1951, when both world champion Mikhail Botvinnik and his challenger, David Bronstein, played it in their championship match.

White most often fianchettoes his king's bishop with g3 and Bg2. Black also sometimes fianchettoes his king's bishop with ...g6 and ...Bg7 (the Leningrad Dutch), but may instead develop his bishop to Be7, d6, or b4 (the latter is most often seen if white plays c4 before castling). Play often runs 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.Nf3 (4.Nh3!? is also possible, intending Nf4-d3 to control the e5 square if Black plays the Stonewall Variation) Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c4 and now Black chooses between 6...d5 (the characteristic move of the Stonewall Variation), and 6...d6, the Iljin-Zhenevsky System or Fluid System, rarely seen today.

White has various more aggressive alternatives to the standard 2.g3, including 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5; 2.Bg5 (hoping for the naive 2...h6 3.Bh4 g5 4.Bg3 (4.e4!? is also playable) f4? 5.e3 fxg3?? 6.Qh5#); and 2.e4!?, the Staunton Gambit, named after Howard Staunton. Though once a feared line, the Staunton Gambit only scores around 50% today, and accordingly is rarely played in high-level games. A number of gambit lines with g4 are also possible, including Korchnoi's 2.h3!? intending g4!? on the next move.

The opening's attacking potential is shown in the Polish Immortal, in which Black sacrificed all of his minor pieces.


See also