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French defence

Posted on March 4th, 2013 by Richard

Against 1.e4 I play 1…e6 and start the French defence. I have mentioned this before in my other posts and I have done a video or two with my French games and now I add a little more on the French defence.

After 1.e4 e6 the game can continue in several ways and it is useful to know something about these if you play 1.e4 e6 -the French Defence. 3 mainline French variations are Advance/Classical/Tarrasch variations and White can play other ways and commonly this might be a Kings Indian Attack with d3 or French sidelines such as the French Reti gambit & Wing gambits.

Against the French Advance Black often employs the Wade variation with Qb6. Then Black will try & play on the Queenside while White may try to play on the Kingside.

The French Exchange is just a very boring opening by White! It actually has a notable drawing record and imho is a very unimaginative way for White to play against the French. It tends to lead to very symmetrical positions and Black often remains the opening tempo down. So I always like to develop quickly and not give White any tempo with a6/h6 type moves until castled & fully developed. This openings main challenge is to look further ahead and prepare for a slow attritional game-not something I enjoy but needs to be taken seriously before one player gets too bored & makes mistakes!

Against the Classical is the Winawer with Bb4 (pinning Nc3) but White can reply with Qg5 pressurising Black’s kingside. There is a lot of theory to the Winawer (including Poisoned Pawn variation). Presently I do not play this as I have not taken up the challenge to play this very sharp opening. Instead against either Classical (Nc3) or Tarrasch I play dxe and go for either Rubinstein variation (Nd7) or I have just become aware of the Fort Knox variation with Bd7 & next Bd6 which have less theory for Black but also good chances for White.

I have played a few Fort Knox blitz games but unfortunately I do not seem to have saved any to show here.
I believe GM Neil McDonald plays this but I have only seen a video of him losing with it!(against GM D Howell). Here is a link to Melbourne Chess Club YouTube video about it:
French Fort Knox at Melbourne Chess Club
I have already had mixed results with the Fort Knox variation and I look forward to playing it a bit more and comparing it against the French Rubinstein.

Against the Kings Indian Attack? Well frankly I do not know this well enough yet to pass comment. I must start to study this more now…

As White I am playing the Advance variation myself and exploring the Milner Barry Gambit in blitz with Bd3. I have not in general had great success with it yet but it is exciting & I am learning from my mistakes and feel it is appropriate for blitz games. If Black is not careful with the “Wade” Queen(!) it can become a target & be lost with a crushing advantage to White. This is where having some ideas of what possibilities an opening gives is helpful over just choosing moves at the time over the board. Playing moves at the time over the board is fine in general but you will probably miss opportunities that are there if you know more about the opening through some prior study and preparation of it.

Anyway I hope this gives a little insight into the French defence, an opening I play and which I need to explore more. The French defence is a rich & complex opening for Black & White & I j’aime la francais! I hope you enjoy playing with & against the French too-Viva the French! 🙂

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