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parrvert 32 ( +1 | -1 )
Anyone like the French? I am considering playing 1...e6 in response 1.e4. I have searched this forum for discussions about the French but there seems to have been little said about it. Is there anyone on here who has played the French many times? If so could you give any advice, like after: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 what the pros and cons of 3...Nf6 and 3...Bb4 ?
jameeboy 38 ( +1 | -1 )
The French! I almost always play the French because it is easy to understand and easy to learn (I am, after all, still a relative novice at the game of chess). I believe the main line is 3... Nf6 and that is what I always play, especially because 3... Bb4 seems to open the door for more white development queenside which seems to go against the purpose of the French. Just my thoughts...
caldazar 85 ( +1 | -1 )
Well, I'm primarily a 1. e4 player, so I play the White side quite a bit.

After 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3, 3... Nf6 allows White to gain a strong foothold in the center with 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 with moves like Nf3 and Be3 to follow. Here Black has all the typical French counterattacks; play against d4 with ...c5, ...Nc6, possibly ...Qb6, and even ...Bc5 after ...c5 and a pawn exchange on d4. After a pawn exchange on d4, Black also has ...f6 to break down White's center further.

3... Bb4 (Winawer French), is probably the more testing and challenging response. Black is going to concede the bishop and the corresponding dark-squared weaknesses in exchange for play against White's pawn weaknesses on the queenside. Something like 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 can result, when White can choose between Nf3 and/or a4 ideas (a4 to threaten Ba3, targeting Black's weak dark squares) or go in for the sharp and overtly tactical 7. Qg4 lines.
philaretus 25 ( +1 | -1 )
The Tarrasch Variation... .....3. Nd2 is liable to cause inexperienced players most trouble. The idea is to paralyse the Queenside while White groups his pieces for a Kingside attack. I had several disasters before realising that the apparently antipositional 3...c5 is Black's best response.
soikins 108 ( +1 | -1 )
I'm a French player Although I'm not very strong to give advices, but I want to say something for beginners.
I used to play Bb4 as black, but the positions emerged quite sharp there after Qg4 (which came sooner or later). There are some problems for black. One plan is to give up the king side pawns and then it's quite a sharp play, another is to castle or play Kf8, bet then white gets strong play against the black king (as sharp as it can be in french!). If you like sharp fighting play Bb4.
Nf6 gives more positional play. But there too can emerge some sharp lines, like 4. ... Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. h4!? or 4. ... Bg5 Bb4.
So it's your choice which variation to choose.
Some comments on 3. Ne2. I guess it is true that beginners have problems against this. I certainly have. Look at my game against muguerzov on board #536977 I don't know where I made the mistake, I guess it's better to retreat with the bishop to d6, not to b6 as I did.
cheesemuffin 1 ( +1 | -1 )
how do you play the variation e4 e6 d4 d5 nc3 nf6 bg5 bb4?
soikins 107 ( +1 | -1 )
On McCutcheon The "e4 e6 d4 d5 nc3 nf6 bg5 bb4" is McCutcheon variation. I've bagun to play it lately, cause I don't like the passive black position after 4. ... Be7.
The variation is pretty sharp. Ther again comes the Qg4 move where are 2 plans for black Kf8 (which I don't play and don't know) and g6 (certainly not 0-0 with deadly white attack.) Black is quite ok in this variation (as far as I know), white has to retreat the bishop (taking the knight gives black equality) and black knight comes to e4, gets one of whites bishops and white doesn't have the 2 bishop advantage. Then black can castle long (in g6 variation) or they can stay in the center untill the endgame. Black doubles the whites pawns by playing Bxc3 and trys to play against those weak pawns with Qa5 in some variations. Black should always remember that white has a threat of Bxg6!, which might give a strong attack if the black king is in center. White can also play h4, then Rh3-g3 and then h5 or Bxg6 eith an attack. That's what black has to keep in mind.
atrifix 20 ( +1 | -1 )
3... Nf6 is another good response to the Tarrasch. I generally play 3... Bb4 with Black, if that means anything to you :)

For a really (very) good book on the French, check out Play the French by Watson.
cheesemuffin 10 ( +1 | -1 )
soikins many thanks - that's really interesting. I think I might take up the variation myself. :)
nottop 92 ( +1 | -1 )
3. ..Nf6 Nf6 is good move. Winawer is good too. It is a matter of style.
I never play the Winawer.
In 150 games of email chess I've only lost four games - but three of those losses have been as black defending the French classical.
It is a hard task playing a whole game of chess lacking a bishop.
I've taken up the "Burn" variation and suggest that you might give it some consideration.

The Burn has elements both of positional and tactical chess.
Initially some players thought it a blunder - but Nimzovich said it only surrendered the center for a while - black can counterattack and it is easy for white to overextend.

The Burn is different from the Rubinstein - black only plays dxe4 after whtie plays Bg5. In return, white is allowed the option of the Steinitz - which isn't hard to equalise against.

The French is a wonderful defense - consider the Winawer and the Burn - but beware the classical.

soikins 155 ( +1 | -1 )
to nottop It really is a matter of style. You have to learn to handle the "french bishop" and it certainly is not an easy thing to master.
I consider moves like dxe too passive, all that I have reached there is tough defence against a kingside attack or long endgames after quick peace exchange.
All those French variations have some pluses and some minuses.
An interesting thing about the "bad" bishop. I recently looked some of Sultan-Khan games (for those that don't know: Sultan-Khan was the first chess Grandmaster from India. He played chaturang (hindu version of chess) in India, but then he was taught the European version -- chess. He travelled Europe in the beginning of 1930ties playing in several top international tournaments and reaching great results and showing original style of play. The amazing thing is that before becoming british champion he had played chess for only a year and had NEVER studied any opening theory.)
In Sultan Khans games you can see how he masters such bishops (his style was to put bishops behind pawn chains (like good old Filidor), he didn't know what is a "bad" bishop, but kept winning anyway!!! Maybe there is some "system" (reference to Nimzowitch) behind this and not just pure luck. Sultan-Khan had several endgames with "bad" bishop against a "good" one and he won them in great style, and the "bad" bishop was a strong weapon. What I want to say is -- maybe we should revisit this "bad" bishop stuff.

parrvert 25 ( +1 | -1 )
Thanks everyone You've given me plenty to think about.

What do you guys make of this line:

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nf-d7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 O-O 10.O-O-O a6 11.h4 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5

What should black do with the c8 bishop? Would the c-file be the right place for the a8 rook? All thoughts are welcome.
cpocf 0 ( +1 | -1 )
Don't think so. Not me!
judokausa 129 ( +1 | -1 )
The French While people seem to be talking a lot about the variations of the french they are not really answering your question. (no offense meant) The french is a great opening! Very solid, sound and easy to learn. In addition it is a great beginner opening for a variety of reasonsthat have been mentioned. It teaches thematic lever moves. It is easy to learn. Also I would like to mention one more thing people haven't mentioned. I have been told by a strong master that everyone should play the french and king's indian complex (they have similar thematic attacks against white's center) You will never regret learning the openings as long as you learn the ideas behind them and don't worry so much about the actual moves. (note the key pawn attacks for black against white's center (c5, f6). Note how black manuvers pieces to put pressure on the center. Note when black releases tension on the center and changes plans! note WHY this is done and what the new plan is. Watch how to play with a "bad" bishop and activate or make it useful. These ideas will help you even if in a few months or a year you decide to choose a more aggressive opening such as the sicilian.
soikins 137 ( +1 | -1 )
To perrvert I can give you some info on this line (or at least similar one -- with 11. g3, but the ideas ar the same), send me your e-mail, I'll send you the game Kasparov -- Shirov, Astana 2001 with GM Shipov and Kasparov comments. The comments are rally good to understand the line. I also have one game of mine too (although it's not worse studying, but it shows my understanding of the line).
As far as I know black should push the queenside pawns forward, place the bishop on a6 (or b7 or even on d7 in some lines) pt use the light square weeknesses. A rook stands where he is -- on a8 in order to protenct th pawn march. The f rook comes to c8. Queen comes to c7 (the open file and also to attack the e5 pawn, e5 weakness will slow the white white plan with f5 push). That's strategy. Tactics is mainly connected with some sort of knight sac on the queenside in order to open the game for a desicive attack on the white king.
White will generaly push the kingside pawns forwars (black generally shouldn't move his kingside pawns not to make weaknesses for white to attack), try to play f5. White can play h4 and Rh3 (rook is good on the third horisontal, it can easely protect the queenside and be used for an attack on the kingside). An interesting idea is to place the queen on f2 and to use the black squere weaknesses with queen and bishop.
That's generaly all I know.
torre_tinorete 24 ( +1 | -1 )
Help on the Exchange Variation I have been playing the French for quite sometime. Usually though, I am having problems meeting the exchange variation of the French. 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. ed5 ed5 The most common continuation for White is 4. Nf3. Any suggestion how black can proceed with this line?
premium_steve 12 ( +1 | -1 )
question about tarrasch variation can black play 3...f5 immediately??? i'm using this in a couple of games i am playing right now, and seem to be doing ok with it.
atrifix 23 ( +1 | -1 )
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. Nf3 is best met by 4... Nf6 (heading for a draw), or combatted by 4... Bd6 (main line) or 4... Bg4!?.

As for 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2...f5? maybe you mean 3... c5 (Classical Variation), which is fine for Black but doesn't offer a whole lot of winning chances for Black. 3... f5 just looks bad.
mikhail_tal 6 ( +1 | -1 )
3...f5 No he means f5. I looked up his games and he had a few with that move.
bartlebie 31 ( +1 | -1 )
3...f5 Seems to me not too bad. But it may be a spoiled move and it surely cuts off the Bc8.
I think ef ef and c4 or Sg1-f3 and Sd2-f3 are not too bad plans. What is black going to do with the pawn on f5? It neither seems good to open the center nor is it really ok trying to keep it closed.
But it is not that easy I think. Perhaps it would be really bad to play at a lvl about 2000 or more.
premium_steve 14 ( +1 | -1 )
i found in one game i played that after the exchange, e4 can turn into a nice home for a black knight, protected by the f5 and d5 pawns.
bartlebie 16 ( +1 | -1 )
a black knight can be kicked out with f3 (so white must choose to play his knight do d3 not to f3). Perhaps it would be more useful to play a bunch of games in this variation. :)
atrifix 117 ( +1 | -1 )
Analysis The problem to me seems like it unnecessarily weakens the e5 square. The e4 knight can eventually be kicked by means of f2-f3, but if White puts a knight on e5 it can never be removed (the f5 pawn itself also needs to be protected by g7-g6 or something, a further weakening). Seems like a Stonewall with the defect of opening the e-file (not particularly good in the Stonewall).

So, for example, after 4. exf5 exf5 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. c3 Bd6 7. Ne2 Nf6 8. Nf3 Ne4 9. 0-0 Be6 10. Nf4 Bf7 11. Nh3 Qd7 12. Nfg5 Bg6 13. f3, Black has a host of problems--for example, 13... h6 14. fxe4 fxe4 15. Nxe4 dxe4 16. Re1 0-0-0 17. Bxe4, or 13... Nxg5 14. Bxg5 0-0 15. Qc2 h6 (or 15... g6 16. Qf2, when White continues 17. Qh4 with a dominant position) 16. Bxf5 Qe8 17. Rae1 Qb8 18. Bh7+ Kh8 19. Ng6+ Kxh7 20. Nxf8+ Kg8 21. Nh7 hxg5 22. Nxg5 g6 23. Nxf7 Kxf7 24. f4 followed by 25. f5, and White again has a dominating position.
Black can try to improve with 13... Nxg5 14. Bxg5 Ne7 but after 15. Nf4 0-0-0 16. Qc2 Bf7 (or else Rae1 is unpleasant) 17. Rae1 g6 White has a clear edge IMO.

If Black wants to improve he'll have to forfeit the idea of 0-0-0 and simply not play Be6 altogether, which has its own problems with White playing c3-c4, or give up his light-squared bishop, which doesn't seem to be very good for Black. Either that or refrain from 3... f5 in the first place. I find 3... Nf6 leads to much better types of situations :)
atrifix 50 ( +1 | -1 )
Couple errors left out a move in one of my lines; 13... Nxg5 14. Bxg5 0-0 15. Qc2 should have 15. Nf4 Bf7 16. Qc2 thrown in. If Black plays 15... Ne7 then 16. Rae1 and doubling rooks forces Black to play ...Rf7 and ...Re8, but then Nxg6 forces ...hxg6 and gives white a clear plus again (since ...Nxg6 results in Rxe8+ Qxe8 Bxf5). Also, in the last line, 17. Rae1 should be 17. Rfe1.

Probably more tactical than it needs to be, but Black doesn't seem to have a whole lot of good moves.
john_wr 110 ( +1 | -1 )
French Bad Bishop? I don't claim to be an expert but I have played the
French Defense for many years.
It is true that one of the drawbacks of the French is
the so called bad Queen's Bishop but I have books
on the opening that mostly give an even evaluation
because White also has a drawback in most lines
with a potential endgame weakness of the backward
'd' Pawn.

Some GM's have suggested ways of achieving what
for Black is a favourable exchange of Bishops. for
example: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Qb6 5.
Nf3 Bd7 6. Be2 Bb5.

or 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. c3 c5
6. Ngf3 b6 7. Bd3 Ba6.

I also have a couple of video's by British GM Daniel
King where he recommends the following:
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. c3 c5 6.
Bd3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 f6 9. exf6 Qxf6 10. Nf3
h6 11. O-O Bd6 12. Bd2 O-O 13. Rc1 Rd8 14. Bb1
Nf8 with the idea of developing the Bishop on g6 via
d7 and e8 meeting any threat White may have of
lining up the Queen and Bishop. In this line if 9. Nf4
he then suggests that Black stands better after;
9. Nf4 Nxd4 10. Qh5+ Ke7 11. Ng6+ hxg6 12. exf6+
Nxf6 13. Qxh8 Kf7 14. O-O e5

In many of my recent games I have encountered;
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7
6. h4 The books recommend; 6...Bxg5 7. hxg5
Qxg5 but White seems to get sustained presure
after Nh3 and Qg4.

Would be intersted in any feedback on these lines.

atrifix 87 ( +1 | -1 )
Well After 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. c3 c5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 f6 (the main line with ...Qb6 also intends to eventually exchange bishops by Bd7-e8-g6/h5) 9. exf6 (9. Nf4 gives Black equality, but not moree, however, Black's game is easier to play and his position is preferable) 9... Qxf6 10. 0-0 Bd6 11. Nf3 h6 then the Bd2, Rc1, Bb1 maneuver just seems wrong. Current theory regards 12. Be3 or 12. Ng3 as best. IMO White has a preferable game after 12. Be3 0-0 13. Bb5, when White probably isn't objectively better, but it's difficult for Black to create winning chances. A more aggressive way to play is with 13. Ng3 or 13. Bc2, with ideas of Re1, Ne5, Nh5, etc. All in all, Black is probably equal, but I prefer the main line.

As for the Alekhine-Chatard gambit, after 6... Bxg5 7. hxg5 Qxg5 8. Nh3 Qe7 9. Qg4?! g6 10. Nf4 Nc6 11. 0-0-0 h5! 12. Qg3 Nb6, Black stands better. Better is 9. Qd2 or 9. Qd3, although a more recent try is 8. Qd3 instead of Nh3. Recently 6... a6 and 6... c5 have seen some popularity, but 6... Bxg5 still remains the easiest way for Black to at least equalize.
john_wr 29 ( +1 | -1 )
Thanks atrifix That's interesting especially the lines regarding the
Alekhine-Chatard Attack

Do you not think Black stands better in the line
below (if 9. Nf4 is met with 9... Nxd4)?
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. c3 c5 6.
Bd3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 f6 9. Nf4 Nxd4 10.
Qh5+ Ke7 11. Ng6+ hxg6 12. exf6+
Nxf6 13. Qxh8 Kf7 14. O-O e5

Have you encountered the following line?
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Ne4

hell-on-wheels 7 ( +1 | -1 )
Like the French NO! But it does avoid the Spanish Torture (the Ruy) and wide open games.