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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) C01: French Exchange for White (Read 26616 times)
Paddy
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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #23 - 02/20/09 at 01:40:11
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In his recent White repertoire book (1 d4 Volume 1, published by Quality Chess), Avrukh recommends the move order 1 d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4 3 e3, allowing the line 3...e5 4 Bxc4 exd4 5 exd4. This variation is fine for White, who scores well. Ever since Razuvaev's article (reprinted in the Dvoretsky book that someone mentioned) it has been well known that White has chances for advantage in this line, with more space and excellent piece play. Also transpositions to favourable lines of the Petroff are possible.

IMHO the ONLY important difference between this QGA line and what I call the IQP Attack against the French (1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 exd5 4 c4) is that in the French line Black has the very useful extra option of delaying dxc4 and thus gaining a tempo in some lines; this has a constraining effect on White's early choice of moves. If this were not the case, I am sure this line would be much more popular against the French at pro level.

As it is, fans of the line have to make do with studying the games of GM Miezis, who has played the French line many times, V.Okhotnik, who has also played it a lot, and various American masters such as Ashley, Benjamin, Wolff and Waitzkin who used it a lot in the 1990s.
  
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Willempie
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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #22 - 02/19/09 at 23:25:52
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JonathanB wrote on 02/19/09 at 17:22:33:
kylemeister wrote on 02/19/09 at 17:18:00:
I think the point about the Panov vs. the 4. c4 French can be attributed to the matter of tempi, not to the difference in structure.


Isn't the tempi the same though?

1. e4 c6, 2. d4 d5, 3. exd5 cxd5, 4. c4

1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. exd5 exd5, 4. c4

Perhaps you could explain further?

J

PS: Meant to say before that the advantage - if indeed there is one - in having a pawn on c7 instead of e7 at this point is clearly not all one way.  No chance for ... e7-e6 to block the c4-f7 diagonal for a start.

I have quite some experience with both lines, but as black you have sortof won a tempo in the French one. Your bishop on c8 can move immediately and it is that tempo that gives you the option to black d5 completely (after something like Nf6, dxc4, Be6, c6, Nbd7-b6-d5). In the Panov you are usually forced to block the bishop in with e6 and you will often end up with some artificial manouevre to get it on c6 or b7. I would say that the disadvantage that is often said to be in the French and the advantage of the CK, namely the bad bishop, is reversed in the exchange lines. Also in both lines I have never been in trouble on the a2-g8 diagonal and I would say that the open e-file is rather more advantageous to black than having e6 in as you always have the option of going f6 to kick away a knight from e5. Personally I find the lines with c4 in the exchange french the easiest to play (easier than a regular exchange and certainly easier than the Panov) and I am far more confident of going for the win. You get the proper pawn structure, white loses some tempi (often Bd3xc4 and then it has to go back) and you are in total control of d5. In the meantime the e-line is open to exchange some heavy material and about every exchange is useful as the endgame is almost won by force.

Another question was about the knight on f6 or e7. In the normal lines without c4 the knight on f6 is often a target of Bg5 and blocks the move f6. On e7 on the other hand you have the ability to play Bf5 to exchange the bad bishop, you can play f6 and the other knight can go to f6 if need be (often you play c6 and then the knight has to go to d7). Also if you castle long the e7 knight is standing better as it can go to f5 or more often to g6 to support an attack. In the lines with c4 it is much less of an issue, though often going to e7 has some advantages similar to the ones I already mentioned, though here having a knight on f6 does more for protecting the K-side.

To answer to the original question. I think it is a bad idea Grin

Though if you really want something I would look at the regular lines without c4 and try something with castling long. Check some games by French experts as black and try their ideas as white. In particular an idea like going long and f3, g4 and h4 might appeal. It would certainly throw Dutchies off balance and most Frenchies will also have some trouble as they often fall asleep and dont pay attention in the first 10 moves (coffee is mandatory when my opponent palys the exchange Wink).
  

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Markovich
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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #21 - 02/19/09 at 18:40:39
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Well I think one obvious explanation for the Panov being much more popular than the French Exchange with 4.c4 is that when Black does not take soon on c4, White in the Panov has the powerful idea c4-c5.  There is nothing of the kind in the other line.

The better analogy with the c-pawn is the Tarrasch French with 3...c5, already pointed out by kylemeister.
  

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JonathanB
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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #20 - 02/19/09 at 17:22:33
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kylemeister wrote on 02/19/09 at 17:18:00:
I think the point about the Panov vs. the 4. c4 French can be attributed to the matter of tempi, not to the difference in structure.


Isn't the tempi the same though?

1. e4 c6, 2. d4 d5, 3. exd5 cxd5, 4. c4

1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. exd5 exd5, 4. c4

Perhaps you could explain further?

J

PS: Meant to say before that the advantage - if indeed there is one - in having a pawn on c7 instead of e7 at this point is clearly not all one way.  No chance for ... e7-e6 to block the c4-f7 diagonal for a start.
  

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kylemeister
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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #19 - 02/19/09 at 17:18:00
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I think the point about the Panov vs. the 4. c4 French can be attributed to the matter of tempi, not to the difference in structure.
  
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Markovich
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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #18 - 02/19/09 at 17:18:00
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@JonathanB: Fair enough.  A propensity to argumentativeness is a flaw in my character.  Fortunately, it's the only one.
  

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JonathanB
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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #17 - 02/19/09 at 17:07:06
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Markovich wrote on 02/19/09 at 13:46:31:
This question of tempo is not insignificant, but it's not obvious that merely because the KB deploys before Black plays dxc4, White is worse (or whatever pejorative conclusion you want to draw about White's play here).


Hi Markovich,

I think our opinions are actually pretty similar.

I wasn't trying to say that White was worse after 4. c4.  Merely that the QGA line must be more favourable for White than the French Exchange line - because of the extra tempo.

Also, the c-pawn e-pawn difference I assume must be in Black's favour as I said - although I accept this may not be as clear cut than the tempo loss.  Part of my reasoning here is that there must be some explanation for the Panov-Botvinnik attack being a widely played system against the Caro-Kann but 4. c4 is not widely played against the French.  I'm also assuming that this explanation is not merely about fashion [ Although I accept I may well be wrong on this point ].

Anyway, I totally agree with you that 4. c4 is both fully viable and (probably) White's most dynamic choice.
  

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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #16 - 02/19/09 at 16:59:15
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It seems to be the general view that Papageno's line (a) is slightly better for White, and line (b) is equal.  That seems the most typical state of affairs, i.e. a missing/extra tempo shifting the evaluation by "half a category."  Incidentally, ECO regarded (a) as equal in the 1970s; that was before a general revival of 3. e3 that took place in the '80s (there was a chapter in a Dvoretsky book about that, with a title like "You Were Right, Mr. Labourdonnais!").

This reminds me of an old thread concerning the line 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 c5 3. dc e6 4. e4 Bxc5 5. ed ed 6. Bb5+ Nc6 7. 0-0 Nf6 (i.e. the same as the French case, though that didn't occur to me at the time) -- at first I thought White should be better, but after some consideration it seemed to me to be equal (though I think the person I was discussing it with thought Black was better).
  
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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #15 - 02/19/09 at 16:42:42
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Right here on ChessPub Neil McDonald gave a two-part repertoire for White after 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. exd5 exd5 in his Sept/Octbober 2008 updates.

Ok, its not a pure exchange variation, but its quite easy for White to play once he gets that f-pawn moving.
  
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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #14 - 02/19/09 at 15:10:27
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Comparing the French Exchange with 4.c4 to the QGA line (Avrukh) shows one important difference in development speed that makes the line much more attractive in the QGA: The QGA has an early dxc4 / Bf1xc4 included. in other words, the QGA player gets a guaranteed easy bishop development in one step Bf1xc4. Let's see:

a) the QGA way:
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 e5 4. Bxc4 exd4 5. exd4 Nf6 6. Nf3 Bb4+ 7. Nc3 O-O 8. O-O - White plays Bf1xc4 in one step and castles comfortably. Avrukh sees some good chances for White.

b) the French defense:
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Be2 dxc4 8. Bxc4 - same position as above except that white did not castle yet. White is a tempo down because of Lf1-e2xc4.

I think that White hardly can avoid this loss of one tempo here. papageno.
  
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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #13 - 02/19/09 at 14:05:33
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Markovich, good suggestion; thanks. I'll have a look at Avrukh.
  

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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #12 - 02/19/09 at 13:46:31
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JonathanB wrote on 02/19/09 at 13:10:07:
Dink Heckler wrote on 02/19/09 at 12:36:05:
Thanks, guys. Some good stuff to chew on here.

I'll have a look at 4 c4 again. My general impression is that these structures seriously lack bite compared to, let's say, a typical Rubinstein Nimzo IQP.


Objectively I'm sure 4. c4 can't be the best move.  Compare to a Panov-Botvinnik, for example, the pawn being on e7 not c7 must favour Black.  Similarly, by delaying ... dxc4 until White move's his King's bishop Black is going to end up a tempo ahead of the Queen's Gambit Accepted line

1. d4 d5, 2. c4 dxc4, 3. e3 e5, 4. Bxc4 exd4 5. exd4


That said, subjectively, c4 and the IQP positions that result present Black with different kind of problems that we French Defenders are used to facing.  For that reason I would say it's White's best bet in the French Exchange.


3...exd5 is the suboptimal move.  But having played it, I don't think I agree that 4.c4 (or 4.Nf3 and then c4) is necessarily suboptimal.  It's simply one way of handling the position, but I do think it's the most dynamic by far.

Whether the defender has a c-pawn or an e-pawn determines two families of IQP positions, but which is easier for the defender isn't obvious to this amateur player.

This question of tempo is not insignificant, but it's not obvious that merely because the KB deploys before Black plays dxc4, White is worse (or whatever pejorative conclusion you want to draw about White's play here).  Since I consider those positions that arise from ...dxc4 before the KB moves, which as you point out can also arise from the 3.e3 e5 QGA, to be clearly better for White, I don't wring my hands too much over the extra tempo.  There are lots of other chess variations, the Tarrasch, the Panov and the Nimzo for example, where this happens and the IQP remains viable.

@Dink: You might want to start with Avrukh's treatment of the QGA with 3.e3 e5.  Normally White won't have that extra tempo, but at least it'll illustrate White's play.
  

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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #11 - 02/19/09 at 13:10:07
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Dink Heckler wrote on 02/19/09 at 12:36:05:
Thanks, guys. Some good stuff to chew on here.

I'll have a look at 4 c4 again. My general impression is that these structures seriously lack bite compared to, let's say, a typical Rubinstein Nimzo IQP.


Objectively I'm sure 4. c4 can't be the best move.  Compare to a Panov-Botvinnik, for example, the pawn being on e7 not c7 must favour Black.  Similarly, by delaying ... dxc4 until White move's his King's bishop Black is going to end up a tempo ahead of the Queen's Gambit Accepted line

1. d4 d5, 2. c4 dxc4, 3. e3 e5, 4. Bxc4 exd4 5. exd4


That said, subjectively, c4 and the IQP positions that result present Black with different kind of problems that we French Defenders are used to facing.  For that reason I would say it's White's best bet in the French Exchange.
  

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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #10 - 02/19/09 at 13:06:05
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Crapov wrote on 02/19/09 at 00:43:31:
Unlike many others I quite enjoy playing black against the exchange.


I suspect it's a myth that players of the French Defence don't like playing against the Exchange.

IM John Cox said in the comments to my original French Exchange thread
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=37675897&postID=141867775533577281

that he'd be delighted if he could start every game as Black from move 3 in a French Exchange.  I think he's said the same on here too.

There are, I'm sure, a whole bunch of people who don't play the French because they don't want to play against the Exchange.  As JC (that's John Cox again not Jesus Christ) has pointed out, the two groups are self selecting.
  

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Re: French Exchange for White
Reply #9 - 02/19/09 at 12:36:05
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Thanks, guys. Some good stuff to chew on here.

I'll have a look at 4 c4 again. My general impression is that these structures seriously lack bite compared to, let's say, a typical Rubinstein Nimzo IQP. I just don't see White's dynamic chances compensating for the IQP. But I'll root around and see if there's any way to ask a few questions of Black.
  

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