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I stumbled upon the Stonewall attack, and it looks pretty strong, and I especially like the fact that it is strong against computer programs.

I would like feedback on this attack, and if this is a move I should consider as a beginner in chess to improve my play?

  • possible duplicate of Is pawns supporting pawns a good opening strategy? – Daniel May 9 '12 at 22:13
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    @Danielδ How is that a duplicate? The question has absolutely nothing in common really ! Maybe wrong link? – Charles Menguy May 10 '12 at 0:53
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    The concept is basically the same, as some of the answers to that question pointed out. However, this is a more specific question than the other. – Eve Freeman May 10 '12 at 1:14
  • I agree, while the concept is the same, this is much more specific and the answers to the other questions are not ansering this question. – Charles Menguy May 10 '12 at 1:20
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    @Danielδ: Not really a duplicate. This question is a SINGLE application of the other one, which has many more. – Tom Au May 10 '12 at 15:34
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From the Wikipedia article that you linked to:

The downsides to the Stonewall are the hole on e4, and the fact that the dark squared bishop on c1 is completely blocked by its own pawns. If Black defends correctly against White's attack, these strategic deficiencies can become quite serious. Because of this, the Stonewall Attack is almost never seen in master-level chess any more, although it is seen occasionally among club players.

The problem is that although the fortress may be solid (at least to begin with), White's attacking options are limited by the bad bishop. In addition, by setting up the fortress the initiative is handed to black, who has various options to break down the fortress (generally a good opening for white would keep the initiative). The article suggests:

Black has several ways to meet the Stonewall. One choice which must be made is whether to fianchetto one or both bishops; Black can meet the Stonewall with a ...b6 and ...Ba6 aiming to trade off the dangerous white bishop on d3, and a kingside fianchetto with ...g7-g6 takes away White's idea of attacking h7. An early development of Black's light-squared Bishop to f5 also cuts across White's plans.

Other obvious attacking options for black are to hit the base of the chain with b5 and b4, or to castle queenside and attack on the king side with g5. Setting up a fortress like this often seems strong, but in fact the opposite may be true, and in fact is simply providing "hooks" for the opponent to mount an attack. As also stated in the article

Black playing the Stonewall Variation of the Dutch Defense is seen occasionally at master level.

and one could also surmise that such defensive formations are, in general, more appealing from black's perspective.

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    While the deficiencies noted here are true, there are ways to mitigate them. The dark-squared bishop can sometimes come out to b2 or a3 after a b2 push. Or it can be re-routed via d2-e1-g3 (or h4). And if black does do a kingside fianchetto, the placing the lightsquared bishop on e2 rather than d3 might prove to be a better square, as is the case with the London System. – Matt Cremeens Aug 29 '17 at 21:04
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The stonewall attack is a powerful and solid opening that prevents black from controlling the center. Some key points are:

  1. White will have control of the dark squares (d4, e3, and f4), so it is important to take control of the light squares with his pieces (Bd3, Nd2, Nf3, etc)

  2. He must also prevent black from playing ...e5 with a move like f4. If black plays ...e5, he can gain space advantage and counterplay in the center.

  3. Castle your king early.

It is an excellent opening for beginners, just remember to take your time with every move.

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Learning just about any opening well will improve a beginner's play.

That said, the Stonewall is probably better in this regard than others, because of its strong emphasis on center control.

See What is the theory behind center control?

Another educational advantage of the Stonewall is the "two sided" nature of the opening (robust chances for both sides). The computers don't play it well because of this feature. But that's something that helps a human player improve.

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