Stonewall (with Ba3) 

Macey Nettleton
Michael Shaw

Burton Road A v Thurgoland
Burton Road

Macey Nettleton’s face was screwed up in puzzlement. His dark eyebrows were knitted together as he frowned. Before him Lee Ayrton [Burton Road] was playing Michael Shaw[Thurgoland], board 1 of the chess match Thurgoland versus Burton Road. Now Macey was not yet good enough to play in Burton Road A team, but he always attended every match, and board one had caught his attention. The game was over and had ended in a draw. Lee and Michael were chatting and analysing the game and moving pieces about trying different moves. Words like “Stonewall” and “great system” “look at that mighty Knight” were coming from Michael Shaw, who was bubbling over, as high as a kite. Michael Shaw had played the dreaded “Dutch Stonewall defence” and was singing its praises as though it was his own creation. “And this Bishop is threatening h2” Michael Shaw continued “I only needed to get Qh5 in…Blah Blah Blah”. Michael Shaw was taking great delight in waving the Black g pawn about, and kept plonking it up to g5. I had first come across Michael Shaw in the cricket match Thurgoland v Burton Road. Tall, fair and athletic he was a natural athlete. He did not just walk, he glided. His every movement was smooth and sure. He had a perpetual smile on his sun tanned face. He was Head boy material that one alright. He had scored rather a lot of runs against us, dominating the bowling attack. Macey was quiet in my car driving back to Burton Road. He was slumped down in the rear seat corner. I could only just see the top of his tousled black hair in the car mirror. The team had won every game except the drawn board one encounter, so the other members were understandably full of their own successes. But I could hear a muttering coming from Macey - “Stonewall”, “system chess”. He repeated the word Stonewall several times, as though he was trying it out on his brain. Sometimes he emphasised the stone part, sometimes he emphasised the wall part. Sometimes he drew it out in a long drawl S t o n e w a l l, other times he said it very quickly. He was trying to make sense of it in his usual fashion. He was oblivious to the other team members in the car. A couple of the other players looked at Macey and chuckled, and nudged each other, but they didn’t say anything. They knew he was a special person. “Lee, there’s a couple of Stonewall games in this month’s BCM,” I said , “If you want to look them up.” Lee nodded. I brought my old BCMs [British Chess Magazine] into school and left them on the library tables. There were thirty or forty tattered old issues with a few battered chess books on the chess part of the library. Macey had devoured every book and magazine, but he had not seen the latest one. I had an idea he would be there at lunch time the next day. As it happens I was wrong, he was there at morning playtime, as it was raining and an indoor play day. Macey only played Tournament games. He never played Blitz. He did not consider it “proper” (thinking) chess. If he was not playing a game he would sit at a board playing through games from a book or magazine , or simply moving pieces and pawns about himself as he analysed. Chess was not a social event to Macey. It was like mathematics and the opponent was incidental. On the board in front of him was the unmistakeable Stonewall formation of pawns on White squares. The puzzled expression had not left his face. My story continues a year later in the next school year, two months into the new chess season. Macey had just won the first Tournament of the year defeating EVERYBODY. It was obvious that he was now in a class of his own and had to play on board one for the A team. Macey was talking to his friend Walter MacPherson. Walley was a decent chess player, but not good enough for the B team, even though he was older than Macey. However he shared Macey’s enthusiasm for chess, and for some reason he seemed to latch on to Macey, and often watched Macey analyse a game. He was small for his age and his shoulders were always hunched up, and there was a hang dog expression on his face. But he always watched Macey with wide eyed wonderment. “Stonewall” Macey spat it out, his face screwed up in disgust. “It’s crap !” He lowered his voice when he voiced the expletive so no one would over hear. “Any way it’s not a stone wall,” he said, “that’s the first thing”. “Then why do they call it…” said Walley. “’Cos it’s a pawn wall ,” said Macey waving his arms impatiently. “Black gets a Knight outpost on e4,” volunteered Walley. Macey looked at him with pity. “And a strong black squared Bishop at d6.” Walley’s confidence was fading now as he saw the expression on Macey’s face. “And he gets a King side attack with pawn g5…” Walley’s voice faded away as he failed to get a response from Macey. He had shot his bolt. “FIRST of all,” said Macey “don’t say black squared ‘cos the squares aren’t black they’re green, say dark squared Bishop. And you NULLIFY the dark squared Bishop.” Walley did not look as though he was too sure about “nullify” but he nodded his head uncertainly. “SWAP IT OFF !” said Macey, “then he will be left with a pathetic excuse for a piece – his Queen Bishop !” “What about that Knight on ..” said Walley. “It’s NOT an outpost !”, said Macey, “you kick it out with f3 – A KEY MOVE. “But your Knight’s on f3 “ said Walley. “Your Knight goes to e5 and regroup the other to d3.” Said Macey, moving the pieces on the board in front of him. “Outpost ? - It’s WHITE who has the outpost – on e5 ! ”, continued Macey, warming to his task. “That’s a REAL outpost. Black can’t kick it out with a pawn ! And you fianchetto your Bishop – that’s because it controls e4 AND it’s a stronger kingside position” “Controls e4 ?” Walley inquired cautiously. Macey leaned forward, eye ball to eye ball “You know what the killer is, killer move I mean – the CAN OPENER – the STONEWALL CRUNCHER? “ He had a wicked glint in his eye. It was almost scary. “What did Mr Peake say about the Dutch?” he continued. “Aah,” Walley remembered, “in the Dutch if you can play e4 other things being equal then ...” “EXACTLY” said Macey “Black’s busted. And THAT’S THE CAN OPENER !” Macey leant back in his chair, satisfied. He contemplated the board. Walley also looked at the board and looked at Macey and back to the board again. He cleared his throat as though he was going to say something, but thought better of it. The final part of my story is two months later. The match is Burton Road A v Thurgoland. The Thurgoland team marched in led by Michael Shaw. He appeared to be looking around for Lee Ayrton. Lee got up from a chair where he had been analysing a game with John Graham. He grinned at Michael Shaw. “I’m board 2,” he said with a smile on his lips, and he nodded towards little Macey, “You’re playing him.” Someone chuckled in the background. The rest of the team, and the spectators, had looked at Michael Shaw as he came in. Shaw looked a little flustered. It was though some kind of joke was on him. They know something that I don’t he mused. Nevertheless he walked over to board one. Board one was always set up in the corner next to the teacher’s desk and the window. Macey sat in the chair with his back to the corner so that he looked out onto the rest of the classroom. He generally sat down early, reserving his seat. If the toss meant a colour change he would spin the board round so that he didn’t have to move. It was his throne. He was running his fingers down his pen, then inverting it and running his fingers down again. Then he would hold his pen between his first and second fingers and waggle it vigorously. It was sort of mesmerizing some how. The tall blonde Michael looked down on little Macey, smiling and holding his hand out to shake hands. Macey put down his pen and shook hands. Shaw was looking Macey up and down, examining him very carefully. The wheels were whirring in his brain. He was probably thinking this kid must be good to be playing above Lee Ayrton. He looked around and was aware that a lot of the non playing pupils were gathered within sight of the board. His eyes dwelled on them for a while, slightly puzzled. But then the sound of Macey adjusting his chair brought his attention back to the board. Macey waved his hand invitingly towards the clock, and Michael Shaw pressed it to start the game.

1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 f5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 d5 5. O-O Bd6 6. c4 c6 7. b3 O-O

Michael Shaw did not know this was a mistake. After all it was just castling. And he always castled in this line. He should have played Qe7 preventing Macey's next move, but he was a system chess man. That's not what you do. You play the Queen to e8 then h5. It was mechanical. In the Stonewall you get your Queen to h5, Knight on e4 Rook to f6 then h6 , then advance the g5 pawn to g4 to get rid of the King Knight, then mate White on h2.

8. Ba3

STAGE ONE swap off Black's good Bishop.

8... Bxa3 9. Nxa3 Qe8

carry on with the plan !

10. Nc2

regroup !

10... Qh5 11. Qc1

I was surprised by this move. What was Macey doing ?

Then I realised he was temporarily preventing g5, but it was a deep move that ordinary mortals cannot find. The Queen can engender threats such as Qa3, Qg5, Qc7 as will be seen in later variations.

11... Ne4

Mechanical - and renewing the g5 threat.

12. Nce1

STAGE TWO - regroup the Knight to d3, where it will control f4 and support the King Knight at e5.

12... g5 13. Nd3 Nd7 14. Nfe5

STAGE THREE Knight outpost on e5.

14... Kh8

14... Nxe5 15. Nxe5 f4 16. Bxe4 dxe4 17. Qc2 e3 18. fxe3 fxg3 19. Rxf8+ Kxf8 20. Rf1+ Kg8 21. hxg3 Qh3 22. Rf3 g4 23. Rf4 Qxg3+ 24. Kf1 Qh3+ 25. Ke1 Qxe3 26. Rxg4+ Kf8 27. Qxh7 Qc1+ 28. Kf2 Black gets mated.

14... Rf6 15. f3 Nd6 16. Qa3 Ne8 (16... Rh6 17. Qxd6 Qxh2+ 18. Kf2) 17. Nxd7 Bxd7 18. Ne5 Bc8 19. Qe7 Rh6 20. h4 gxh4 21. g4 wins the Queen.

15. f3

STAGE FOUR Kick the Knight out.

15... Nd6 16. e4!

STAGE FIVE Macey's can opener! Now Black is probably lost!

16... Nxe5

This seems the most logical. I have extensively analysed this position with a computer The four best moves are given below. It seems that Black has a lost position.

16... fxe4 17. Nxd7 Bxd7 18. Ne5 Rad8 19. fxe4 Rxf1+ 20. Qxf1 Qe8 (20... Qh6 21. c5 Rf8 22. cxd6!! Rxf1+ 23. Rxf1 Qg7 (23... Be8 24. d7 Bxd7 25. Nf7+ wins) 24. Rf7 wins) 21. Qf6+ Kg8 22. Qxg5+ Kh8 23. Rf1 wins. White is threatening both c5 (Knight moves then Nf7+) and 24.Qf6+ Kg8 25.Rf4

16... dxe4 17. fxe4 fxe4 18. Nxd7 Bxd7 19. Ne5 Rfd8 (19... Rad8 20. Rxf8+) 20. c5 Nb5 21. g4 Qe8 22. Nf7+ Kg7 23. Qxg5+ Kf8 24. Nd6+ Qf7 25. Rxf7#

16... dxc4 17. bxc4 Nxe5 18. Nxe5 Nf7 19. f4 Nxe5 20. fxe5 Bd7 21. exf5 Rxf5 22. Rxf5 exf5 23. Qb2 Kg8 24. d5 Rd8 25. e6 Be8 26. Qf6 Ra8 27. d6 wins.

16... Nf7 appears the best try, but.. 17. Nxf7+ Rxf7 18. cxd5 exd5 19. exd5 cxd5 20. f4 Nb6 21. fxg5 Rg7 22. a4 Qxg5 23. a5 Nd7 24. Qxg5 Rxg5 25. Bxd5 Nf6 26. Ne5 Rg7 (26... Kg7 27. Bg2 Ne4 28. Rac1 Be6 29. Rc7+ is winning.) 27. Nf7+ Kg8 28. Nh6+ Kh8 29. Bg2 Be6 30. a6 wins

17. Nxe5

Again I have tried another four moves here, but no joy for Black.

17... fxe4

17... dxe4 18. Qa3 Rd8 19. fxe4 fxe4 20. Nf7+ Nxf7 21. Qe7 Bd7 22. Rxf7 Qg6 23. Bxe4 wins

17... f4 18. Qa3 Rd8 19. Rae1 Qh6 20. c5 Nb5 21. Qa5 b6 22. Qxb5 cxb5 23. Nf7+ Kg7 24. Nxh6 Kxh6 25. c6 Ba6 26. exd5 exd5 27. Re6+ Kg7 28. Rfe1 is winning.

17... Rf6 18. Qa3! is a killer. 18... Ne8 19. Qe7 threatening g4 is absolutely killing.

17... Nf7 is again the best try. 18. Nxf7+ Rxf7 19. cxd5 cxd5 (19... exd5 20. exd5 cxd5 amounts to the same thing.) 20. exd5 exd5 21. f4 Be6 22. Re1 Rc8 23. Qe3 Re7 24. Qe5+ Kg8 25. Qf6 Qf7 (25... Rce8 26. Rxe6 Rxe6 27. Bxd5 wins) 26. Qxg5+ White is better.

18. fxe4 Rxf1+ 19. Qxf1

threat Qf8 mate. Black is curiously helpless.

19... Kg7!

the only move.

19... Qe8 20. Qf6+ Kg8 21. Qxg5+ Kh8 22. Rf1 Bd7 23. Qf6+ Kg8 24. Rf4 wins

20. Qf2!

The simple threat of Rf1 cannot be answered. At this point Michael Shaw's smile had become distinctly plastic. It had become fixed, taut and tense. His eyes were darting desperately about the board.

20... Qe8

20... dxe4 21. Rf1 Nf5 22. Bxe4 g4 23. d5 cxd5 24. cxd5 Black is lost.

21. Rf1 dxe4

White can force checkmate

21... Qe7 22. c5 Ne8 23. Qe3 ! 23... h6 24. Qd3 ! 24... Bd7 25. exd5 exd5 26. Qg6+ Kh8 27. Nf7+ wins

22. Qf6+ Kg8 23. Qxg5+ Kh8 24. Rf4

There isn't a defence.

24... Qg8

24... h5 25. Rf6 Nf5 26. Bxe4 Bd7 27. Bxf5 and mates.

24... a6 25. Qf6+ Kg8 26. Rg4+ Qg6 27. Nxg6 hxg6 28. Rxg6+ Kh7 29. Qg7#

25. Qf6+ Qg7 26. Qd8+ Qg8 27. Rf8

Black cannot avoid checkmate. Michael Shaw quickly knocked his king over, stood up extending his hand, shook hands briskly and turned and left the board as quickly as possible. He started an animated conversation as though nothing had happened. His smile had returned. He did not look around the room. If he had had done he would have seen most of the spectators looking at him with a smile on their faces. "Sooo " said Killer Kilkenny slowly, "the Stonewall is crap then ?" I wondered if Michael Shaw would remember the name “Macey Nettleton”. As I watched him departing I noticed for the first time there was not a smile on his face. “Did the Chess Gods look down, Macey ?” asked Nicola Caddick rather mischievously. She knew like everyone else that Macey was always copying Mr Peake and going on about the Chess Gods. Macey smiled. He was very happy, he had put the chess world right today. “The Chess Gods are happy. Any system of chess that has the same moves regardless of your opponent’s moves is bound to fail. If it succeeded chess would be dead wouldn’t it ?” Nicola was a little lost in the logic there but she persevered. “So the Stonewall needed to be destroyed?” “If it worked chess would be dead.” Macey repeated. “The Chess Gods are happy.” And just to emphasise the point he looked up to the Heavens. “You’d think he was in personal contact with them,” Nicola whispered to me. Wally was happy. His usual hang dog expression had gone and he was just for that moment uplifted. He was beaming, and his eyes were glistening. He turned to me and said “You know he showed me those moves..” he began to say. “I know,” I said. “He can play can’t he ?” was his next understatement. I smiled and nodded. It was a sort of reverence I noted. Reverence in the presence of genius.


Game(s) in PGN