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One of the more common responses to the Dutch Defense is as seen below:

[FEN ""]
1.d4 f5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3

I understand the logic behind this fairly well. White establishes a strong queenside presence and is free to bolster defenses in the center with their knight without fear of blocking their own pawns in. However, the following sequence of moves is almost never seen:

[FEN ""]
1.d4 f5 2.f4 Nf6 3.Nf3

I understand why this particular version is so rarely seen: the e5 square is given a needless amount of protection while leaving e4 defenseless. However, in general, you still never see players at the master level try to go for f4 and Nf3 against the Dutch, regardless of how the first few moves shake out. Why is this? I know anecdotally that it's good practice to put your pawns in front of your knights, but if that's the case, why do it only on the queenside and never on the kingside? In the first example up there, white usually plays Nf3 anyway, blocking their own pawn in. Why does this double standard exist?

1 Answer 1

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I know anecdotally that it's good practice to put your pawns in front of your knights, but if that's the case, why do it only on the queenside and never on the kingside?

Precisely because your king is on the kingside. By moving that f pawn, you're weakening your king along the 2nd rank and along the g1-a7 diagonal. In general that's a very bad idea. Many games have been lost because this weakening of the king led to a direct assault.

In the first example up there, white usually plays Nf3 anyway, blocking their own pawn in. Why does this double standard exist?

While it may seem like a double standard, it's actually not. Honestly black does not want to play f5 either for the same reasons that white does not want to! However, as black, you have to sacrifice something to get something. In this case, black is trying to argue that having a firmer grip on the e4 square is more important than the weakening of their king. A lot of top players disagree with that conclusion and that's why the dutch itself is very rare at the top level as well.

There's one further reason not to play f4+Nf3 in the Dutch. The e4 square immediately becomes a hole for your opponent to use. We have already played d4 weakening e4 slightly, but only after combining d4 and f4 does the e4 square become a true hole. Black does not often play f5+d5, giving up the symmetric e5 square. Doing this is called "the Stonewall Dutch." It's pretty dubious because while you're trying to get a firm grip on one color complex in the center, there's a complete and total disregard of the other. As soon as you play both pawns forward, your c8 bishop is just such a sad piece. Why would white do this unprovoked?

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