Publisher: Everyman Chess Author: GM Simon Williams 468 pages ★ ★ ★ ★½
When choosing a new opening to learn, it makes sense to select one that suits your style of play. For aggressive risk-takers an opening described as “killer” might be a good fit and this would seem to be the case here.
The author is the English GM Simon Williams whose peak rating (to date) is 2550. He is well-known as a very strong attacking player who likes to play the Sicilian Dragon, a double-edged opening if ever there was one, and the Dutch, which he has played for his entire career.
He points out that the Dutch (1…f5) is a natural choice vs 1. d4 for those who like to meet 1. e4 with the Sicilian as the pawn structures mirror one another and they have some ideas in common. In addition to this, Williams points out the similarities between the Dutch and certain openings for White, including the Grand Prix Attack (1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. f4) and Bird’s Opening (1. f4), the bonus being that understanding the Dutch will enable you to be play these lines better too.
I should mention that this book covers Simon William’s favourite Classical Dutch with pawns on f5-e6-d6 and Bishop on e7, as opposed to the Stonewall (pawns on f5-e6-d5-c6 and Bishop on d6) or Leningrad (Kside fianchetto).
There are 10 chapters dealing with different variations and these come after a chunky (55 page) introduction which outlines a few key ideas to keep your position sound. These include how to deal with the central pawn structure and where to place your pieces to attack White’s King.
So we are told to get in …e5 and are warned that allowing White to play e4 without us having ….e5 available will lead to an inferior position because White will be able to open the e-file and attack our weak e6 pawn.
We are also advised to leave the light-squared Bishop on c8 for a while as it is already reasonably placed for Black’s purposes, only moving it when it can come into the game with great effect perhaps on g4 or h3.
These are the first 2 of 8 rules that GM Williams outlines for the Dutch player, others including pawn breaks and heavy piece manoeuvres. These rules are given with the reasoning for each then an example of the rule’s use (or misuse) in a real GM game. (I wrote these rules down and kept them by my side whilst playing some friendly blitz games to get used to them).
The 10 variations are:
Amongst its uses, ….a5 can help secure a Knight or Bishop on b4 and allow the quick transfer of the a8 Rook to the Kside via a6.
Initiating the Queen manoeuvre to h5. Simon Williams says that, although this is the most popular 7th move choice for Black, he does not believe it to be the strongest option.
3. The Modern 7…Ne4
Freeing f6 for the Bishop and potentially grabbing space if White exchanges Knights. Simon Williams demonstrates a game where he beat Sokolov with this variation.
4. New, Fresh and Slightly Dubious
7…Nc6 when White can respond with d5 and Nd4
5. White Plays g3 and Bg2, Early Deviations
6. White Avoids Fianchettoing
This chapter includes a really good overview of both sides strategies if White decides upon a Colle or London System versus the Dutch.
7. Aggressive Set-ups and Early Gambits
Including the wild Korchnoi variation (pictured).
8. Early Deviations: 2 Nc3 and 2 Bg5
Important lines to know how to face if you open 1…f5 (as opposed to 1…e6 and 2…f5).
9. White Avoids d4 and Adopts an English Set-up.
10. White Avoids c4 and d4
Including 2. d3 Nc6 (pictured) and the dangerous Lisitsyn Gambit (1. Nf3 f5 2. e4!?).
Every chapter is packed with annotated games (the book has 45 in total) to illustrate the ideas, with wins for both sides showing where the mistakes and opportunities lie. These annotations go up to the endgame where appropriate although many end in mating attacks! Also, at the end of each chapter is a test with a number of positions to assess and reinforce your understanding of the material. Many of the games are the author’s own from GM level play and there are also games featuring Korchnoi, Caruana, Carlsen, Karpov and Short to name a few.
This is definitely a book that can take you from never having played the opening before to a very sound understanding of it, ready to face anything your opponent has to throw at you. The opening itself is a recommended choice for those looking for excellent winning chances as Black versus 1. d4/1. c4/1.Nf3.
You can grab a copy from the publishers, Everyman Chess, and there is a free sample available on their site too.