Stonewall Attack, chess tactics, strategies

The Stonewall Attack

The Stonewall attack is one of the most solid systems in the game of Chess. It becomes the Stonewall Attack when adopted by White players. It becomes a variation of the Dutch Defence if played by Black. The variations denoted by A93, A94, A95 of the Dutch Defence conform to the Stonewall system. These codes are available to easily search the Stonewall variations on any common chess website.

Unlike popular belief, the term Stonewall does not come from a town or the name of a popular chess master. Rather, it stems from the pattern of pawns and major pieces that guard the center of the board. They are similar to the bricks stacked together in a stonewall. Hence the name. Metaphorically speaking as well, the stonewall is considered to be very strong and rock-solid, just like this attack.

The great thing about this attack is that it is so flexible, that players can begin with this attack and transpose into a completely different tactic depending upon the opponents’ response. As a result, this is one of those attacks that does not have a fixed move sequence per se.

Before proceeding further, it is paramount that we familiarize ourselves with the algebraic notation in chess. To learn more about chess notations, check out our article:

The Arrangement

That said, one typical case of the Stonewall attack has been depicted below. The moves involved in this are

  1. d4 d5
  2. f4 Nf6
  3. e3 e6
  4. Nf3 c5
  5. c3 Nc6
  6. Bd3 Bd6
  7. O-O O-O
  8. Nbd2
Stonewall Attack.

A feature of this attack is that, it is extremely flexible. In the sense that, once White begins to play along these lines, a decision needs to be made about the execution the attack. This decision can be made by gauging the opponents’ moves and mindset in a manner which is conforming to the previous analysis. Some players have grown accustomed to using this as an opening that they alter the trajectory of the game using this attack.

Another aspect of this attack is that it does not have a vast theory to study and multiple variations to memorize. All one needs to know is that this formation can be lethal while attacking and also form a defensive stronghold when it is required.

References in Media

The Stonewall Attack is such a vital tactical move that there are entire books written just on this attack! Don’t believe us? Check out the book below:

The Stonewall Attack

This book has been written by International Master Andrew Soltis. Yes, an entire book dedicated to the Stonewall Attack! This book delves into all the pros and cons of this attack explaining each aspect in great length through the eyes of an International Master. For all those keen on expanding their knowledge in this domain, I highly recommend this book.

Not only this, there have been multiple mentions of this attack in various chess magazines and blogs over the years. Here is one such entry. Check out this really great article from the December 1981 issue of Chess life magazine by International Master Larry D. Evans that talks about the Stonewall opening extensively:

Chess life article, Stonewall

The Stonewall attack is great for playing against opponents that are aggressive or ranked just a tad bit higher than you. The reason for this is because the Stonewall system is superb for counter attacking. Once you allow your opponent to furnish their attack, you can quickly sustain the blow and transform into an attacking position. This is another aspect of the flexibility that is talked about earlier in the article.

Heavy emphasis is laid on this being a very sound system which integrates the majority of the board. One crucial aspect through which this is achieved is the development of a great pawn structure. To examine the importance of this in the Stonewall systems, check out our article here:

Stonewall Attack in a game

Lastly, we will finish off with a game where the Stonewall Attack was employed by White. One must expect Black to prepare well to handle such a devastating and effective attack. Unfortunately, in the case shown below, this wasn’t the case. Black failed to defend against White and ended up conceding the game in the early stages. There were hardly any pieces captured and White ended up desperate to evade the trap that is the Stonewall Attack!

Stonewall Attack Game

This just goes the show the efficacy of this attack. Most titled players will be able to counter this attack skillfully. Club players and occasional players on the other hand, who are not well versed with their theory may not be able to. That said, a player that is well versed with this attack can take on any opponent with just a hint of surprise. Do try out this attack and let us know your results. You might even surprise yourself with the results!