The Raphael Variation is a great way to get the Dutch Defense players out of their comfort zone.
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The Dutch Defense is a very powerful weapon to add to your repertoire. It’s an opening system rather than an opening with an exact move order, and it can be reached via many different moves, and played against many different openings white chooses.
It can be employed against the Reti, English, and even Nimzo-Larsen, but the main line Dutch is played against d4.
The idea behind the Dutch is to challenge the center straight away by playing f5, thus taking control of the e4 square, and making it very hard for white to expand in the center. The downside of the move f5 is that it weakens the black king in more ways than one. It weakens the seventh rank, and both diagonals looking at f7.
Both sides have plenty of options at their disposal after the starting moves 1.d4 f5. White could choose to enter the main lines, but he could also play the London system (with Bf4), the Raphael variation (with Nc3), the aggressive Staunton Gambit (with e4, giving up a pawn), or the Hopton attack (Bg5). The normal way for white to play, though, is with c4, g3 and Bg3.
Against these main setups for white black can choose between three different systems withing the Dutch defense; the Leningrad Dutch, the Classical Dutch, and the Stonewall Dutch.
Along with these, there are several sideline systems white could employ to avoid what black knows best and is expecting. One of these is the Raphael Variation, in which white develops his knight to c3 early on, trying to play e4 and break the center straight away.