Some time ago, I spent some effort working on this line. Current books don't do it justice, especially the piece sacrifice, which I think has considerable merit. I've since moved away from these lines, and haven't looked at these notes in awhile, but I thought I'd post them here in the hope that they might be of interest to someone. I wonder, also, about a collaborative effort to fill in the holes. As you will note, very little original analysis is here. Most of it is collecting game scores and pasting them together. So far as I recall, however, most of the text is mine...
(Note the trap after move 13 in G2).
French Steinitz Variation, with 7. … Qb6
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 Qb6
A. 8.a3 B. 8.dxc5 C. 8.Qd2 D. 8.Bd2 E. 8.Rb1 F. 8.Bb5 G. 8.Na4
G. 8.Na4 Qa5+ 9.c3 c4 10.b4 Nxb4 Safer, perhaps, is 10. … Qc7. 11.cxb4 Bxb4+ 12.Kf2 12.Bd2? c3 + 12. … b5
G1. 13.Nc5 G2. 13.Nb2 G3. 13.a3
G1. 13.Nc5 Nxc5 13.… Bc3 14.Bd2 Bxd2 15.Qxd2 Qxd2+ 16.Nxd2 Nxc5 17.dxc5 Kd7 18.Ke3 a5 (18.… a6 anticipates 20. axb5+ and prevents 21. Bxc4) 19.a4 Kc6 20.axb5+ Kxc5 21.Bxc4 dxc4 22.Rhc1 Bb7 23.Nxc4 Bd5 24.Nxa5+ Kxb5 25.Rcb1+ Kc5 26.Ra3 Bc4 27.Nb7+ Kd5 28.Rc3 Rhb8 29.Rd1+ Kc6 30.Rxc4+ Kxb7 31.Rb1+ 10 (FrolyanovChebotarev, Cherepovets 2001). Alternatively, 13.… Bc3 14.f5 Nxc5 15.dxc5 Bxa1 16.Qxa1 exf5 17.e6 f6 18.Nd4 00 19.g3 Re8 20.Bg2 Bxe6 21.Nxe6 Rxe6 22.Bxd5 Rae8 23.Rd1 Kf8 1/21/2. (AshbyCharter, Leeds 1998). 14.dxc5 Bc3 It does seem a shame to part with this darksquared bishop. It has to be the strongest minor piece on the board. 14.… Bd7 15.a3 (15.Be2 Rc8 (15. ... Bc3 16.Bd2 Bxd2 17.Qxd2 Qxd2 18.Nxd2 Rc8 19.Ke3 Rxc5 20.Kd4 Rc7 ended in a long and complicated draw in FrolyanovSalinnikov, Tomsk 2002.) 16.f5 Qc7 17.c6 Bxc6 18.fxe6 fxe6 19.Rf1 Bc3 20.Rb1 Bxe5 21.Kg1 00 22.Nxe5 Qxe5 23.Bxa7 Rxf1+ 24.Bxf1 Qf5 25.Rb2 e5 26.Be2 Ra8 27.Bg4 Qg5 28.Be6+ Kh8 29.Rf2 d4 (29. … Qe7! seems to be simply winning: 30.Bxd5 Rd8) 30.Qe1 g6 31.Qb4?! (31.h4) Kg7 (31.… Re8!?) 32.Qd6 Qc1+ 33.Rf1 Qe3+ 34.Kh1 Qe4 35.Bh3 Qe2 36.Qe7+ (36.Qf6+)Kh6 37.Qh4+ Qh5 38.Qf6 Qxh3 39.Qxc6 Qd3 and Black lost in Hermida GonzalezAlvarino Cazon, Candas 1999, perhaps on time. It should be noted that in the final position, Black’s superior position has collapsed. 40.Qf6 Qe2 41.Bc5 and it’s White who has the winning chances) Bc3 16.Rb1 00 17.Nd4 Rfc8 18.Nc2 f6 19.exf6 Bxf6 20.Be2 Qd8 21.Bf3 Qe7 22.Re1 Bc3 23.Re2 Rxc5 24.Bd4 (24.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 25.Kf1 is okay for White, too) Bxd4+ 25.Qxd4 Qd6 and White had a good pull in StankePaulsen, German League 1994. 15.Bd2 Bxd2 16.Qxd2 b4!? 17.c6 17.Qd4 Bd7 (17.… Bb7!?) 18.Bxc4 dxc4 19.Qxc4 Bb5 20.Qb3 Ba4 21.Qc4 Rc8 (21.… 00, intending Rfc8; the a8R might be better placed on b8) 22.Rhc1 00 returns the material and now it’s White with the passed pawn, though Black’s position looks at least equal. Mind you, it seems a shame to part with the beautiful pawn chain that Black has built. 18.Nd2 Rc8 19.Bxc4 could be even better for White after the knight reaches e4, so Black might think about 17.… Ba6 as a means of discouraging the return of material and maintaining the initiative. 17. … Qb6+ 18.Nd4 a5 19.Be2 Ba6 Black must beware of tricks involving Bxc4 and returning the piece for two of the passed pawns. Ba6 is crucial. 20.a4 20.Rc1? Bb5 + 20. … c3 20.… Rc8!? 21. Kf1 00 looks like an improvement: locking in the rook on h1, and maintaining the tension. Black should only play c3 when rooks are in position, thereby gaining tempi on the game. Black might be rather pleased with 16. … b4!? 21.Qe3 Bxe2 22.Kxe2 Qc5 23.Rhc1 00 24.Rc2 Rfe8 25.Rd1 Ra6 26.c7 Qxc7 27.Qd3 Rb6 28.Nb5 Qc6 1/21/2 (EllithorpeGay, USAch corr. 1984).
G2. 13.Nb2 Ba3 Standard texts offer 13.… Bc3 14.Qc2 b4 15.Be2 Nb6 (WittmannRoth, Austrian Team ch., 1988) as unclear, with some initiative for Black, but 15.Rc1! looks like an important improvement: 15. … Bxb2 (forced because White threatens 16.Na4. 15.… Qxa2 16.Na4 Qxc2 17.Rxc2 and White is better.) 16.Qxb2 Qb6 17.Bxc4! dxc4 18.Rxc4 and White returned the material with a big initiative in SundbergVan Bruchem, ICCF 2000. 13.… Qa3?! looks as though it might be rather effective in hampering White’s king’s efforts to retreat to g1 after Rhf1, since the bishop on e3 needs protecting, but 14.Bc1 puts the question to the Black queen, who must retreat (14.… Qc3? 15.Ng1, intending Ne2), and perhaps the best either side can hope for is a draw by repetition. 13.… f5 hasn’t been tried and might warrant some investigation, though it does allow 14.a4, which can force Black’s hand on the queenside. 14.Qc2 f6 14.… f5!? 15.Be2 00 16.Rhf1 Nb6 looks interesting. 15.Be2 15.exf6 Nxf6, with Ne4 to follow. 15. … 00 16.Rhf1 f5 16. … fxe5? 17.fxe5 Nb6—with a mind to bringing the knight to f5 via c8e7f5—looks like a tempting plan for Black, putting pressure on the White king along the newly opened ffile. However, it may be too slow and Black must be wary of a rapid kingside attack. 18.Kg1 h6 19.Bxh6 and Black is floundering: 19. … gxh6 20.Qg6+ Kh8 21.Qxh6+ Kg8 22.Ng5 and White has sprung a mating trap. No better is 18. … Bd7 21.Ng5 g6 22.Bh5 Be8 23.Bg4 Bd7 24.Rxf8+ Rxf8 (24. … Bxf8 25.Qf2 +) and Black needn’t continue. 17.Kg1 Nb6 Black’s darksquared bishop looks wonderfully mobile in this position, though the position may be hard to evaluate. The lone game in this line continued: 17.Kg1 Nb6 18.Nd1 Bd7 19.g4 b4 20.gxf5 exf5 21.Ng5 h6 22.Nf3 Ba4 23.Qb1 c3 24.Bd3 Rac8 25.Bc2 Bb2 26.Bxf5 Rxf5 27.Qxf5 Bxa1 28.Qe6+ Kh8 29.f5 Qb5 30.Nh4 Qe8 31.Qd6 Nc4 32.Ng6+ Kh7 33.Qxb4 Bxd1 34.Rxd1 Nxe3 35.Rxa1 Nc2 36.Qb1 Nxa1 37.Qxa1 c2 38.Qc1 Qf7 39.Nf4 Qxf5 40.Ne2 Qg4+ 41.Kf1 Qf3+ 42.Ke1 Qh1+ 43.Kd2 Qxh2 44.Kd3 Qh3+ 45.Kd2 Qg2 46.Kd3 Qe4+ 47.Kd2 h5 48.Qf1 c1=Q+ 49.Nxc1 Qc2+ 50.Ke3 Qxc1+ 51.Qxc1 Rxc1 52.Kf4 Kg6 01 (BossePoetsch, Bad Zwesten, 2003).
G3. 13.a3 Be7 14.Nc5 As in the earlier lines, retreating the knight to b2 warrants consideration. 14.Nb2 Nb6?! (It’s unlikely that Black can get away with the pawn on a3: 14. … Bxa3? 15.Bc1 b4 16.Bxc4 dxc4 17.Nxc4 Qa5 18.Nd6+ and Black looks miserable. The best option appears to be 14 … 00 15.Qc2 f6 and Black looks very solid.) 15.Qc2 Bd7 16.Bd2 Qa6 17.Be2 Qb7 18.Bb4 a5 19.Bxe7 Kxe7 20.g4 g6 21.h4 b4 22.a4 Rac8 23.h5 Qc6 24.Nh4 Rcf8 25.hxg6 hxg6 26.Nxg6+ fxg6 27.Qxg6 Rhg8 28.Rh7+ Kd8 29.Qh6 b3 30.Kg3 c3 31.Rc1 Qc7 32.Ba6 Qb8 33.Qh4+ Kc7 34.Rxc3+ Nc4 35.Bxc4 Qb4 36.Rxd7+ Kb6 37.Rxb3 10 (MazzottiQuinto Celle Ligure, 1989) 14. … Nxc5 15.dxc5 Qc7 16.Qd4 Bd7 17.Be2 00 18.g4 Rfc8 Black looks okay in this line. Play continued: 19.Qc3 a5 20.Rhb1 Bxc5 21.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 22.Kg2 b4 23.axb4 axb4 24.Qc2 b3 25.Qc3 Qb6 26.Bxc4 dxc4 27.Rxa8 Rxa8 28.Qxc4 Ra2+ 29.Kg3 Qf2+ 01 (MaierGann Karlsruhe, 2003).
