Chess Structures in Practice – The Stonewall

I recently came across a very nice example of White’s winning strategy in the Stonewall structure (Chapter 6). After a relatively subtle opening mistake Black was forced to lose control of the c-file and lost the game without a fight.

Andreikin,D 2723 – Potapov,P 2471, TCh-RUS 2015

1. Nf3 f5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bg5 e6 4. Nbd2 d5 5. e3 Be7 6. c4 c6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O

Many games have reached this position, though in my opinion this is a somewhat inferior version of the Stonewall structure, since White’s bishops are very well placed on d3 and g5.

8…Nbd7?!  a very questionable move! The option 8… Bd7 seems more reasonable.

9. cxd5! Black is forced to take with the c-pawn, so after 9…cxd5 10. Rc1+/-

White already has a huge advantage, because he traded c-pawns and gained control of the c-file. Notice that Black’s knight is terribly placed on d7, if it were on c6 it would block the file for some time.

10…Nb6 11. Nb3 Na4 12. Qe2 Bd7 13. Bf4 Rc8 14. Ne5 a6?

This move only weakens the b6-square. A better defense was 14… Rxc1 15. Rxc1 Be8.

15. Rxc8 Bxc8 16. Rc1 Bd6 17. h3 Qe7 18. Qc2 Nb6 19. Nc5!

White creates pressure on the queenside, inviting Black to trade off some of the key defending pieces, like the bishop on d6.

19…Bxe5 in case of 19… Ne4!?  20. f3 Nf6 21. Bg5 White preserves a big edge, and ideas like Qb3 are available.

20. Bxe5 Nbd7 21. Bf4 Nxc5 22. Qxc5 Qxc5 23. Rxc5 

White has traded all the key defending pieces and now Black’s position is hopeless because he does not have any realistic chances of counterplay.

23…Nd7 24. Rc3 Nb6 25. Kf1 Na4 26. Rc2 Nb6 27. b3! preparing an expansion with a2-a4-a5.

27…Na8 this move is a very sad necessity, to prevent White’s rook from entering the 7th-rank. In case of 27… Nd7 28. Rc7 Rd8 29. a4 White is nearly winning.

28. a4! Aiming to play a4-a5 to keep the knight out of the game 28…b6 

The alternative was 28… a5 29. Rc5 b6 30. Rc6 Bd7 31. Rd6 Bc8 32. g4 !?. White has a clear advantage.

 29. b4 Bb7 30. b5!+-  a5 

In case of 30… axb5 31. axb5 does not help Black at all. White will continue in a similar way as the game, only that now he also has the idea Ra2-Ra7

31. g4! claiming space on the kingside is the right approach to win the game. White aims to create a second weakness.

31…g6 32. Kg2 Kf7 33. Kg3 Rh8 34. Be5 Rg8 35. h4 Bc8

In case of 35… fxg4 36. Kxg4  (threatening Kg5-Kh6 and winning) 36…h6 37. Bf4! Kg7 38. h5! opens the position decisively, say after 38…g5 39. Be5+ Kf7 40. f4 gxf4+ 41. Bg6+ Ke7 42. Bxf4 Rh8 43. Rf2+-

36. f3 Bb7 37. Kf4 threatening the Kg5-h6 invasion.  37…h6 38. h5! making use of the weakening move h7-h6.

38… g5+ 39. Kg3 Bc8 It does not help 39… fxg4 40. fxg4 Ke7 41. Rf2 +-

40. Rc6 Bd7 or 40… fxg4 41. Bg6+ Ke7 42. fxg4 Bd7 43. Rc2 followed by Rf2 winning.

41. Rd6 Ke7 42. gxf5 Black resigned as his position has collapsed.

Final Remarks

  • This game is yet another example of White’s dominance once the c-pawns have been traded, and the c-file is accessible.
  • Ten moves were enough for White to secure an enduring positional advantage, and the rest of the game is just a visually pleasing positional massacre.

Feel free to leave comments, suggestions or questions. If you liked this blog post, click “Follow” at the top of the page to receive an email once a new blog post is out. I will try to post once per week.


3 thoughts on “Chess Structures in Practice – The Stonewall

  1. Fer

    Interesting post Mauricio, thanks for it. Is very impresive how Adreikin’s deeper knowledge is basically enough to win easily the game.
    In any case, after watching the whole game, and consecuences of opening the c-file with 9…, cd5, wouldn’t be better to Cxd5?

    Thanks in advance!


  2. Mauricio Flores Post author

    Hi Fer: I agree that …Nxd5 would have been a reasonable reply, but I didn’t analyze it because that pawn structure would be obviously inferior, since Black lacks central pawn breaks, and most importantly, the dark-squares would be weakened (such as e5) after the dark-squared bishops are traded.

    Take care!



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