09 September 2013

DVD completed - The Dutch Stonewall

This week I completed The Dutch Stonewall ChessBase fritztrainer DVD, which features Bulgarian FM (soon to be IM) Valeri Lilov.  The DVD format has a series of 10-12 minute segments that were evenly divided between Classical and Modern Stonewall variations, with two segments on early deviations for White, as well as an introduction and end summary.

I found that the DVD was a good complement to the Win with the Stonewall Dutch book, which is devoted solely to the Modern Stonewall and goes into a large number of variations and sample games as well as treating central ideas.  Having run through almost all of the book material line by line, I have to say that it made for an excellent and thorough exposure to the opening, but the quantity of games involved (a positive from a reference standpoint) perhaps obscured some of the central themes for me.

The presentation on the DVD was also built around key games but the more limited review material, along with the verbal and graphical explanations of key concepts, helped highlight them effectively.  The DVD was by no means oversimplified, however, with Lilov regularly pointing out key points of divergence.  Furthermore, after reviewing the Stonewall portion of Starting Out: The Dutch Defence, I noticed how much clearer and familiar its explanation of Stonewall concepts seemed after having absorbed the DVD material.  I'm sure part of this is due to the repetition effect, but having three different styles and methods of treating the Stonewall seems to have been more effective for my studies rather than less.

Another benefit of the DVD presentation is that Lilov is a practitioner of the defense and has gone through his own study and learning process with it.  His end summary segment mostly emphasizes the need to make the opening your own by studying master games, analyzing games for yourself, and playing it until you get a better feel for how the system works in practice.  He also explicitly cautions against memorizing lines without having a full grasp of the concepts involved and makes the practical point that you should initially expect to have worse results when playing a new opening, due to your lack of familiarity.  His recommendations parallel my preferred opening study methods, as Lilov does not promise any sort of magic formula by using the Stonewall and instead notes that work needs to be done on it, just like any other opening.  He closes by observing that after he got serious about studying top-level games in it from Kramnik and others, the opening came together for him as a player and he started beating master-level opposition using it.

There were a few things that detracted from the DVD.  Lilov in most segments misspeaks a few times, usually saying the last thing he was focusing on rather than what he intended to say, which is a common verbal error in unrehearsed presentations.  For example he will say queenside when he means kingside, or will incorrectly specify a square by saying d4 instead of d2.  Because of the graphical chessboard accompanying the lecture and the relative obviousness of what he meant to say, this is not an insurmountable problem, but could pose difficulties for someone less used to chess nomenclature or whose native language is not English.  The segments don't seem to have been reviewed for editing purposes, otherwise these errors would have been caught (either that or they were ignored).  In terms of chess content, I found the game selections and material to be well-selected, if not fully comprehensive.  The area least covered is probably White's early deviations, but Lilov presents some useful approaches against what are probably the majority of White's more common variations, including the Staunton Gambit.

I believe anyone who wishes to play the Dutch Stonewall, especially those interested in the less theoretically prominent Classical Stonewall where resources are harder to find, will get a lot out of the material on the DVD for instructional and reference purposes.  As cited above, I also think having instructional and reference material in DVD format serves to usefully complement other excellent book material on the opening.


  1. Awesome review! I've been thinking of learning the Dutch as of late. I currently don't have a solid repertoire for black against 1. d4 and this review makes it easier for me to choose. I have a big tourney coming up in a month so I need to get this DVD asap

    1. Glad it was helpful for you. If you happen to play the French against 1. e4, then it should be relatively quick and easy to incorporate the Dutch Stonewall into your repertoire, since you could play 1. d4 e6 and then answer just about anything but 2. e4 with ...f5, then it's very hard for White to avoid one of the main lines of the Stonewall. A lot of the top-level players in fact reach the Stonewall via this route. If you choose to play 1...f5, that's obviously fine, but then you have to learn more sidelines (including annoying ones like 2. Bg5).

  2. Can't say I've ever used the French defense. I was actually reviewing the pet-lines with Bg5 last night. The ICS openings module pertaining to the pet lines seems pretty decent, but I've yet to actually get to the Stonewall variation. Can't wait until I get there!