My round 4 OTB game last night did not turn out well. My opponent played the Stonewall system, which I was only vaguely aware of how to play against. He succeeded in taking me out of my tactical game, but I did manage to maintain a slight advantage. However, I had chewed a lot of time off the clock in thinking about how to play against this opening system. In the end, I chose the wrong plan for the position and entered a losing endgame. Here is how the game went:
My Opponent (1386) - CelticDeath(1501) [A45] 08.02.2005 1.d4 Nf6 2.e3 c5 3.c3 e6 4.f4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.a3 Bd6 8.Bd3 0-0 9.0-0 Ne4 10.Nbd2 f5 11.Ne5 Qh4? Simply a wasted move. The queen now gets driven back with tempo. [>=11...Bd7 12.Ndf3 Nxe5] 12.Ndf3 Qh5 13.Be2 Qe8 14.Bd2 Bd7 15.Rc1 Nxe5! Gets rid of the pesky knight. Now if White retakes with his other knight, Black will take with the Bd6. 16.fxe5 Be7 17.Bd3 Bb5! Exchanges a bad bishop for a good one and now the knight has a semi-permanent home on e4. 18.Qe2 Bxd3 19.Qxd3 g5? Losing my way again. I thought that since White's knight was exposed on f3, I should drive it back and launch a kingside attack against White. However, a better plan was to neutralize White's counterplay on the queenside. [>=19...Rc8! 20.Rxc8 Qxc8 21.Rc1 Qd7] 20.Rc7 g4 21.Rxe7 Qxe7 22.Bb4 Qf7 23.Bxf8 Rxf8 24.Nd2 Ng5? [>=24...Nxd2! 25.Qxd2 Rc8 26.Rc1 Qd7-/+] 25.Rc1 h5 26.Qc3 Ne4 27.Nxe4 fxe4 28.Qd2 h4 29.Qe2 Qg7 30.Rf1 Rxf1+ 31.Qxf1 g3?? Loses a pawn. Mandatory was Qg5. [>=31...Qg5] 32.Qf4 gxh2+ 33.Kxh2 Qg3+ 34.Qxg3+ hxg3+ 35.Kxg3 Kg7 36.b4 b5?? The losing move. [>=36...a6] 37.Kf4 Kf7 38.Kg5 Kg7 39.g3 a6 40.g4 1-0
There weren't a lot of complex tactics available in this game, but I think I can draw some conclusions from it, just the same.
1. The key to playing against the Stonewall is to eliminate or reduce the effectiveness of White's knights. This is not too difficult to do with proper play.
2. The smaller the advantage that you hold, the faster your plans need to be. Instead of slow pawn roller kingside attacks, look to seize open diagonals, ranks, and files.
3. There are two basic ways to win - either by a highly tactical attack or by accumulating small positional advantages. The proper method is determined by the pawn structure. With this highly blocked pawn structure, with few inroads into my opponent's position, the proper plan was to fight for those few inroads and not attempt a kingside attack until my pieces are better placed.
4. There are two basic plans for winning - either by an attack in the middlegame or by winning the endgame. If my positional advantage is slight, I should play for a winning endgame. Only if I have a large positional advantage, then an attack may be successful.