Ask Coach Jessica: What to Do After 1.d4 (Not The Stonewall)


Hey ChessKids! Many of you have asked me about the Stonewall setup, for White or Black. Maybe you've seen people get very tricky with it, and it has that reputation of being hard to break through. But I really can't recommend this system on principle, because it simply doesn't follow the rules of the opening (CDC).

The Stonewall looks like checkers to me, and leaves big holes and stuck what works for you, of course, but today, I'll answer two ChessKids, plushy123 and spots. What to do after 1.d4! By, Mrs Jessica E Prescott (aka BoundingOwl).

Weird pawn structure - difficult to get out that dark-squared bishop now. Play like a GM and avoid this stuff!

Black to move here. And 1...d5 is very natural and fine to play. Remember, if you play a queen pawn opening, you'll want to create that pawn wall somehow. So, leave your knight behind so you can try to get both c- and d- pawns out together.

White has two pawns in the center and can play Nc3 to help guard center squares. Don't play 2...Nc6 here - that knight has to wait.
If you don't want to play a 1.d4 d5 opening, then try 1...Nf6! This is a versatile way of playing. You are basically going to wait to see how White develops next.
You can basically play this like a system, too, and just fianchetto and castle right away. Later you must be sure to strike out at the center.
Here is the mainline King's Indian Defense. Try it!
At this point White can take (the Exchange Variation) or White can push to d5 (Classical Variation). This is a deep opening with tons of variations. Instead of going through them, I encourage you to play this out with your friends and see how it goes!
Another way to play against 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 is by trying the Nimzo-Indian Defense with 2...e6 and after 3. Nc3, Bb4 pins the knight to the king.
White can encourage the trade with 4. a3, ignore it with 4. e3, or guard it with 4. Qc2.
And you know, you can always just play d5 later! Try the Grunfeld, for example. This opening also requires that you fianchetto, and that bishop will be a powerhouse for you!
Each of these responses by Black starts with 1...Nf6, and each is strong in its own way. Take the initiative early, attack White's center, and have fun with it!