Dutch Defense Chess Opening

Dutch Defense is a queen’s pawn opening that starts with 1.d4 f5. Black tries to create an asymmetrical pawn structure and gain control over the e4 square. There are mainly two set-ups for black in the dutch defense. Leningrad system and the stonewall system.

The Leningrad variation

Black’s idea of the Leningrad dutch is to fianchetto black’s f8 bishop to g7. The main line goes 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.0-0 0-0 6.c4 d6.

Black’s plan is to play Qe8 and then e5 to gain more control in the center and get rid of the weak e6 square in his position. After 7.Nc3 Qe8 8.d5 we reach the position below.

White has stopped …e5 indirectly. For example, after 8…e5 9.dxe6 Bxe6 10.Nd4 white is threatening to take on the b7 pawn with his g2 bishop. So black either has to play the unwanted move 10…Bc8, or play 10…c6 11.Nxe6 Qxe6, giving white the two bishops advantage.

White is positionally better. Therfore black avoids 8…e5 and plays 8…a5 with the idea of Na6-Nc5.

The Stonewall variation

The stonewall variation is the mirror of the stonewall attack by white that we have already seen earlier. 1.d4 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.c4 d5 5.Nf3 c6 is the dutch stonewall system.

Black takes a strong control of the e4 square with the expense of the weak e5 square and the locked c8 bishop. White will try to play b3-Ba3 and exchange the dark squared bishop which is usually good for white in such positions.

The main line goes 6.0-0 Bd6 7.b3 Qe7 8.a4 a5 9.Ba3

White succeeds in exchanging the dark squared bishops. Black will quickly try to develop his c8 bishop to gain equality in the position. For example, 9…Bxa3 10.Nxa3 0-0 11.Nc2 b6 12.Ne1 Bb7 13.Nd3 Na6 14.Nfe5 c5

Even though dark bishops are gone, black has managed to cover his weak dark squares by playing c5 and challenging the d4 square. Also with the light squared bishop developed on b7, black has almost achieved equal position.

The Stonewall variation with tricky move order

There is a very unusual move order which can be used to reach the dutch stonewall system to surprise your opponent. For example, 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 c6 4.e3 Bd6 5.Nc3

And here, where white was getting ready for something similar to the queen’s gambit opening, black can play 5…f5 and suddenly transpose to the Dutch stonewall system. And with the knight on c3, white also has a hard time playing Ba3 and trying to exchange the dark bishops right in the opening.

After 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.0-0 0-0 white can play b3-Bb2-Ne2-Ne5 gaining more control on the e5 square. Black can play b6-Bb7-Nbd7 or Bd7-e8-h5, not intending to weaken his stonewall by playing b6.

The Staunton gambit

After 1.d4 f5 white can play 2.e4 which is called the Staunton gambit. White sacrifices a pawn for quick development. After 2…fxe5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5, black can let go of the e4 pawn and try to finish his development by 4…e6 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Nf3 with a good game for white inspite of giving black two bishops.

Or black can choose 4…Nc6 with the idea that if white plays 5.Bxf6 exf6 6.Nxe4, then after 6… Qe7 7.Qe2 the d4 pawn is hanging. But the main line is 5.d5 Ne5 6.Qe5 Nf7 7.Bxf6 exf6 8.Nxe4 f5 9.Ng3 g6 10.0-0-0 Bh6+ 11.f4 0-0

Very unsual position where white has castled long with all his kingside pieces undeveloped and on the other hand, black has castled short with his queenside undeveloped. However, the position is quite equal and in the long term good for black due to the two bishops.

White plays 2.Bg5

Lastly, white can play 1.d4 f5 2.Bg5. Possible line is 2…h6 3.Bh4 g5 4.e3 and black has to play 4…Nf6 to defend the Qh5 checkmate threat. After 5.Bg3, we get a dynamically equal game right out of the opening.


The dutch defense is a perfect option for improving players because it gives a dynamic and asymmetrical position to play. Practicing this opening can help improve positional understanding. Black doesn’t have major problems in the Leningrad system. However, in the Stonewall system, black has to be careful to bring the c8 bishop out as quickly as possible.

Harikrishnan A

I am an International Fide Rated player with 10+ years of experience. Played many International Chess Tournaments and Commonwealth games.

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