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Poll Question: C00-C19: How do players with White confront the French?
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KIA    
  13 (8.3%)
Advance    
  24 (15.4%)
Tarrasch    
  33 (21.2%)
Nc3    
  64 (41.0%)
Exchange    
  10 (6.4%)
2. Nf3    
  2 (1.3%)
2. Qe2    
  2 (1.3%)
2. f4    
  1 (0.6%)
Other    
  7 (4.5%)




Total votes: 156
« Last Modified by: dom on: 07/30/11 at 14:20:14 »
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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) How does White confront the French? (Read 12374 times)
Smyslov_Fan
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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #37 - 10/10/07 at 23:06:49
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Markovich,

We've already had a fairly lengthy discussion about the benefits and costs of teaching students to play the French exchange with c4.

For everyone else, I really don't think this is the way to go about learning chess.  I would much rather see White learn how to deal with pawn chains by either 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5! or 3.Nc3 followed by e5.
  
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Markovich
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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #36 - 10/10/07 at 12:23:21
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MNb wrote on 12/11/04 at 08:32:15:
I do not agree. The right to move first is not enough after 3.exd5 exd5. In several cases Black can achieve strong counterplay by an asymmetrical piece development.


I teach my chess kids to play 3.exd5 exd5 4.c4.  It may not be a critical test of the French, but it's a nice way to insist on an open position.  It's not highly theoretical; a reasonable aquaintance with IQP positions will enable anyone to play it.  There are a few specific ideas that are worth noting, such as blocking an early e-file check with Be3, then sacrificing a pawn on that square if Black tries to bother the bishop; also reacting to an early Bg4 with an immediate Qb3, even at the expense of doubled f-pawns. These strategems facilitate Bd3 in place of the less active Be2.


Some Blacks will most amazingly play ...dxc4 with White's bishop still on f1.  This may be a theoretical QGA position (arising from 3.e3 e5), but I think it's bad for Black.  (Indeed I suspect that 3.e3 is a more precise way of entering the QGA main lines than 3.Nf3 is.)

All in all, it's a good weapon for scholastic competitions; I imagine it would work pretty well at the club level, also.

Personally I think that Black's strongest defense to this is with an early ...c6 and not much intention of playing ...dxc4.
  

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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #35 - 10/09/07 at 21:57:33
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Nc3 is the critical move. Fischer used it. Anand plays it. Kasparov said something in favour for Nc3 compared to the Tarrasch Nd2. Ziegler says in his DVD that if white is loking for an advantage he should chose Nc3.
But it is much more theoretical than the Tarrasch.
  

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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #34 - 11/16/05 at 05:37:49
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I didn't have time to dig out the game score last night, so I'm going to attempt to post it from memory. For information, my opponent has a grade of around 2150, though I believe he used to be up towards 2300 in his heyday, and he's played the French for nearly 30 years with excellent results.

He told me after the game he had never seen this line.

[Event "West Wales Congress"]
[Site "Dolphin Hotel, Swansea"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Evans, Craig"]
[Black "Sully, David"]
[Result "1/2"]

1.e4 e6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2 Be7! [This is the move that is apparently meant to worry white, black just intends to give the pawn back and liquidate to a middlegame] 6.g4 h6 7.Bg2 Bd7 8.Nxe4 Bc6 9.O-O-O Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Bf6 11.d4! [It matters not that this pawn impedes the bishop on b2; ideas of c4 to build a big centre will threaten to advance with d5, when black will be overrun] Bxe4?! [I'm not sure these wholesale exchanges are the way to go. Now white's queen gets a dominant central square and cannot be chased away] 12.Qxe4 c6 13.Ne2 Qa5 14.Kb1 Na6 15.Nf4 O-O-O 16.Nh5 Nb4 17.a3 Nd5 18.Rd3! [No Nc3+ thank you!] Rhg8 19.c4 Nc7!? [My opponent was worried about the threat of Nxf6 followed by Qh7 - I'm not so sure this is something to panic about] 20.Nxf6 gxf6 21.Rhd1 h5! 22.h3 hxg4 23.hxg4 Qg5 24.f3 Rh8 25.Bc1 Qg6 1/2-1/2

I knew that white should be better here, but when someone who outgrades me by 200 points offers a draw, I find it very hard to say no, especially one whose mastery lies in queenless middlegames and endgames. Of course, 26.Qxg6 [Not an instinctive move, since it corrects black's pawns. However, in conjunction with the correct follow-up, white's bishop becomes a huge piece and this is justification] fxg6 27.g5! gives white an advantage, since gxf5 leaves black's pawns crippled, while ...g5 28.Bf4 means that white owns the dark squares. 

I'm sure I've played inaccurately at points, but for a lowly patzer, I was quite pleased with my play. Especially 6.g4!! - that's how chess should be played!
  

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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #33 - 11/15/05 at 21:33:48
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That would be most welcome. Since a couple of months I have been converted to 2.b3 as well. Alas I did not get the chance yet to play it.
  

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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #32 - 11/15/05 at 10:36:13
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2.b3! is the move to worry French players, with the idea that 2...d5 is met by the gambit 3.Bb2!!

I've played this for years, and was most annoyed when Tim McGrew decided to write an article on it on the chesscafe.com website (entitled Terra Incognita, if my memory serves me correctly).
Hardly anyone plays the fun lines since he mentioned the early ...Be7 idea. Still, one of my best games (despite only drawing it) was played in this line. If I can dig out the game score when I get home I'll perhaps post it.
  

"Give a man a pawn, and he'll smell a rat. Give a man a piece, and he'll smell a patzer." - Me.

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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #31 - 09/21/05 at 18:21:00
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I don't know why, but several chess students have come to me from another teacher who think 1.e4 e6 2.c4 is the way to prove an advantage against the French. (Or by transposition, 2.d4 d5 3.c4) 

I have no idea where this idea came from, but I hear students tell me "it's just like the Panov Attack" in the Caro-Kann.  I show them some lines, and they often are not convinced that Black has easy equality.  Does anyone know more about this line, and why some juniors and their teachers are so drawn to this? ???


There are some interesting examples of this line commented by Josh Waitzkin on the Chessmaster CD.  Apparently he and Maurice Ashley worked on some ideas for White and did quite well with it in the 90s. You should find some of their games in any good database.

For a recent example of what may be a good way for Black to respond, see Akobian's recent lecture at ChessFM.

BTW in some lines it transposes to the QGA (1 d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4 3 e3 e5 etc. Other lines can reach Petroff-like positions. 

For some background on IQP structures with Black having a c-pawn instead of an e-pawn, see Opening Preparation by Dvoretsky and Yusupov, Batsford, 1994 pp 190-199.

It's also worth remembering that Kasparov and others (including Kramnik) experimented in the 90s with the sequence 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 exd5 4 Nf3, intending if 4...Bd6 only then 5 c4. For info on this see Chapter 14: The not-so-harmless Exchange Variation of the French Defence, in Practical Opening Tips by Mednis, Cadogan 1997.

The Waitzkin-Ashley treatment was with Bd3/Nge2 though, rather like a 3...c5 Tarrrasch French with reversed colours!

Finally here's what the French defence expert Lev Psakhis says about 4 c4 in one of his recent books:
"An interesting move which radically alters the pawn structure and considerably reduces the drawish factors that are so characteristic of this variation (the Exchange Variation). White can scarcely reckon on an advantage, especially against accurate play by Black, yet he does undoubtedly set his opponent some problems."

So we can be sure that the line is perfectly playable and sets some problems. It also avoids the typical blocked French positions and will usually produce just one type of position - an IQP. So for anyone who likes open games, especially IQP positions with White (and learns how to handle them properly), it might prove a useful weapon against the French. Certainly some of my students like it and score well with it.
  
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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #30 - 09/21/05 at 12:56:29
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Taljechin,

I agree that 2.b3 is too often overlooked as a rare sideline.  The French Wing Gambit is also interesting.  Thanks for pointing out 4.Qb3.  I have actually faced that once against a Class B player (it goes to show just how much more these players know now than similarly rated players before computers Tongue).  I thought he'd just made a mistake and I didn't pay too much attention when I won the game.  I'm going to have to go back and review what happened now!
  
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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #29 - 09/21/05 at 10:49:16
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After 1.e4 e6 2.c4 d5 White also has an unusual gambit: 3.cd5 ed5 4.Qb3 - it's hardly playable in corr, but otb it's not completely useless. I think it's an idea of Stefan Bücker's but I'm not sure what he called it? (I think it was  'Gambit 59' or something similar.)

However, in my opinion 2.b3!? is the only Anti French variation that has both some surprise value and some promise. (2.Qe2 and 2.d3 are not bad of course, but seem to lack bite nowadays...)
  
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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #28 - 09/21/05 at 10:44:52
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Willempie,

I agree that White's c4 in the exchange is the most active line.  I once had a chat with IM Michael Mulyar about this and he stated that White was the only one playing for a win at the higher levels in this line.  At my level of play though, I get excellent games as Black following your basic set-up.  I don't think Black has all that much to worry about here compared to, say, 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 or 3.Nd2 lines.
  
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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #27 - 09/21/05 at 10:16:48
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1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.ed5 ed5 4.c4 (or a delayed c4) is about the only active option for white in the exchange. Basically black has 2 ways to play. He can setup aiming for Bb4 or as I usually do aiming everything at d5 and exchanging on c4 when white has moved the bishop. Typically that would go Nf6, Be7, c6, Nbd7, dxc4, 0-0, Nb6, Nbd5 and Be6 in approximately that order.
  

If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.
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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #26 - 09/21/05 at 04:08:24
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Thanks for the information, Scholar!

(It reminds of Dr. Max Euwe's famous complaint that while he was president of FIDE (1972) he knew every GM personally.  After his retirement, there were so many Grandmasters that he didn't even know all their names!)
  
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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #25 - 09/21/05 at 03:13:16
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Normunds Miezis, a Latvian GM (Elo 25**).  I met him only through looking at this line: there are about 100 games in my database with him playing the white pieces.

I guess if you're going to play the French exchange and want to liven things up a bit, this is the way?  (But then why play the exchange...)
  
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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #24 - 09/21/05 at 02:25:04
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Scholar,

You are absolutely right, I forgot to add a move pair into that last transposition.  I should have said (typed), 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.ed5 ed5 4.c4.  This is of course a type of French Exchange, but I don't believe it offers White much.

You mentioned that Quote:
Miezis plays this at every opportunity (after 1.c4 e6). 
.  I know who Mieses was, but have never heard of this person.  Where is he from, what's his playing strength, and why haven't I heard of him?  (Ok, i don't really expect you to know the last one.  My ignorance baffles me.)
  
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Re: How does White confront the French?
Reply #23 - 09/20/05 at 22:08:56
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Quote:
I don't know why, but several chess students have come to me from another teacher who think 1.e4 e6 2.c4 is the way to prove an advantage against the French. (Or by transposition, 2.d4 d5 3.c4)  

I have no idea where this idea came from, but I hear students tell me "it's just like the Panov Attack" in the Caro-Kann.  I show them some lines, and they often are not convinced that Black has easy equality.  Does anyone know more about this line, and why some juniors and their teachers are so drawn to this? ???


Well, I'm not sure that the two things are the same.  e4/c4 is not a great idea, but at least there's an idea.  Miezis plays this at every opportunity (after 1.c4 e6).  Tartakower played it a few times as well.

I'm not sure one can say the same thing after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 c4 dxe4.  I have no idea why someone would play this way, or worse, why it would be suggested by a coach.
  
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