I have seen this particular d4 e3 f4 pawn-setup played a few times, sometimes arising from the Bird opening (as below), sometimes from 1.d4:

[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]
1.f4 d5 2. e3 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. d4

I don't see why white would willingly create such a pawn-structure. Not only has white an obvious weakness on e4, a large light-square complex becomes weak, and the dark bishop becomes almost useless. Sure, white has some power over e5, but that can hardly be used while f6 remains available for black. Perhaps white wants to try to break this position open, but I don't see how to support a e3-e4 push, for example. Furthermore, if the position does open, a king-side castle would become rather unsafe, I think. (A queen-side castle seems even more dangerous, given that black has plenty opportunity to mobilize the queen-side pawns. Finally, Stockfish seems to agree that black is a bit better in this particular position.

Yet, this position is played with some frequency (at the amateur level, at least). Why? Is there some tactical trick I'm missing? Is the only strength of this concept surprise? It seems just bad to me, and in all games I encountered this, white's clear weaknesses eventually led to their downfall.

1 Answer 1


The Stonewall Attack and the Dutch Stonewall are systems with an easy attacking formation. By Placing the Bd3, Ne5, and the queen on the h-file, white plays for a quick mating attack, even using a rook file and/or a g-pawn advance to increase the pressure.
If black plays g6, white should alter the attack by playing Be2 and advance the h-pawn.

BTW, Kramnik claims that the Bg7 is as bad as Bc1.

  • Interesting, so the idea is a concrete attack. That makes sense. Still, if black defends successfully, it seems white will be in deep trouble, no? I agree that the g7 bishop is bad, but at least it would defend the king after the castle, and has a potential future on the a3-f8 diagonal (although the latter goes for the c1 bishop as well). Aug 22, 2021 at 17:07

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