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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) The French Defense Revisited (Read 6777 times)
Nernstian59
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #41 - 02/09/24 at 23:13:57
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kylemeister - Thanks for pointing out that video! It's nice to have some details about what Sokolov covers in his Winawer chapter.
  
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kylemeister
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #40 - 02/09/24 at 19:50:03
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I came across IM Andras Toth praising the Sokolov book and talking about some of the Winawer content.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Gs-zWMr-kg
  
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Nernstian59
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #39 - 02/08/24 at 03:57:10
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kylemeister - I've been wondering about the Winawer content in Sokolov's book as well. The previews I've seen only give snippets of Chapters 4 and 6. So far I haven't found anything from Chapter 5, which is the one covering the Winawer. New in Chess gives the book's publication date as January 30th, and apparently Niggemann has it in stock. Perhaps one of our European friends will have it soon and can provide some details. In the preface, Sokolov says, "the book is aimed at middlegame improvement; however, I also share a sizeable portion of my opening knowledge". Thus we might get a few theoretical nuggets as well.
  
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kylemeister
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #38 - 02/07/24 at 19:15:03
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Regarding the positional Winawer stuff, I wonder if Ivan Sokolov has anything to say about it in his new book. (It's "not a theory book"; it's about some 1. e4 structures, and has a Winawer chapter.)
  
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FreeRepublic
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #37 - 01/29/24 at 01:37:24
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Nernstian59 wrote on 01/27/24 at 23:13:39:
Those interested in more details on The French Defense Revisited can take a look at this thread


Thanks for the re-direct as I'd forgotten. To be clear, I don't have this book but have looked at information available at ForwardChess.

After 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bc3 Ne7 7. h4!? Qc7!? is suggested by several authors (Giri, Miedema, Jacimovic and Zlatanovic). It's complicated but I think it offers chances for both sides. It seems that Jacimovic and Zlatanovic offer a second line with 7...Qa5. It would be nice if Black has a second viable defense.

Their repertoire includes the Guimard variation against the Tarrash. I've never looked at that much. There are unique Guimard lines. Also, it seems one would have to learn the "universal system" usually seen from 3...Nf6. For example after 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nc6 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nd7 6. Bd3 Nb4 7. Be2 c5 8. c3 Nc6 9. Bd3.
  
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kylemeister
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #36 - 10/08/23 at 23:55:00
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I see that the position before 18. Nf6 in Golyak-Gaiduk appeared in Pachman's Modern Chess Tactics (1973), and was used (giving Pachman as the source) in the Bratko-Kopec Test (1982).

Alexey Suetin in his 1965 book Modern Chess Opening Theory thought that 8...c4 "leads to a complicated game with approximately equal chances for both sides."
« Last Edit: 10/09/23 at 02:10:11 by kylemeister »  
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Nernstian59
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #35 - 10/08/23 at 22:48:08
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Another positional Winawer with Black playing an early ...c5-c4 was featured in the My Best Move column in the new October 2023 issue of Chess Life. The game was submitted by 91 year old FM Isay Golyak and has him playing White against Boris Gaiduk in the 1949 Soviet U20 Team Final in Moscow. (Golyak moved to the US in 1989). The game started 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.a4 Qa5 8.Bd2 and now 8...c4 (a move earlier than So-Abdusattorov and Smyslov-Botvinnik). The game continued 9.Ne2 Bd7 10.Ng3 Nbc6 11.Nh5 Rg8 12.Be2 0-0-0 13.0-0 Rdf8 14.f4 f5 15.Rf3 Nb8 16.Bc1 Bxa4 17.Ba3 Re8, when White uncorked his "best move": 18.Nf6!. After 18...gxf6 19.exf6 Rgf8 20.Bxe7 Rf7 21.Re3 Nd7 22.Bh5 Rexe7 23.fxe7 Rxe7 24.Qe1, White soon won.

With ...c4 coming so early (on the 8th move), it's no surprise that Moles called it "premature". (He references Golyak-Gaiduk in his analysis). In the column, Golyak says he was "amazed" to see his game published in Shakhmaty v SSSR, where it was annotated by Peter Romanovsky, who says of 8...c4, "there was no need to rush to lock the center. Better was 8...Nbc6". BTW - The publication of what might otherwise be an obscure game may be the reason it was available to Moles and could also be why it appears in the Mega Database.

It's conventional wisdom that playing ...c4 on the 8th move is premature, and in this case conventional wisdom is likely correct.  However, 8...c4 been tried by strong players such as Boleslavsky (vs. Keres 1941), Uhlmann (vs. Robatsch 1956), Spassky (vs. Gipslis 1958) and Szabo (vs. R.Byrne 1975).

Golyak notes that after studying a Smyslov game where the future world champion played Nf3-g5-h3-f4-h5 to attack the undefended g7-pawn, he came up with the maneuver in the game where Ne2-g3-h5 brings the knight to h5 more quickly.

Incidentally, I noticed that the ECO code for the game was given as C19 in Chess Life, so that's another place that hasn't adopted the switch I mentioned in reply #28.
  
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Nernstian59
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #34 - 10/06/23 at 22:06:50
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kylemeister - Thanks for pointing out the So-Abdusattorov game in Reply #27. I was curious about the position after 9...c4 and found that its first occurrence in the Mega Database was in the famous Smyslov-Botvinnik game from the 1944 Soviet Championship. The Chessbase version of the game was annotated by Rainer Knaak, who marked 9...c4 with a ?. He noted that Black usually waits for White to commit to Bf1-e2 before advancing the c-pawn. He felt that closing the position with 9...c4? was weak since White can develop the bishop to g2 or h3 (obviously after g2-g3). This is similar to the Nunn/NCO line that you mentioned.

It turns out that Smyslov-Botvinnik is the first game in Giddins' The French Winawer Move by Move. Giddins is more charitable, marking 9...c4 with !?. He says that it's more common to retain the central tension with 9...Bd7 and adds that 9...c4 would allow 10.g3 with the idea of Bh3, O-O,  Nh4, and f4-f5, which is also the same general idea of the flank development of the bishop given by Knaak and Nunn.

Another old book bit is Moles' analysis in his The French Defence - Main Line Winawer. He follows Boleslavsky-Barcza for several moves: 10.g3 Bd7 11.Bg2 0-0-0 12.0-0 f5 13.exf6 gxf6 14.Re1 Ng6 15.Bh6 Rhg8 16.Qd2 Rde8. Now Moles quotes an even older book, Schwarz, which has an evaluation of =/+. In contrast, Stockfish gives White a slight edge. Moles called 10.Bg2 "illogical" and preferred 10.Bh3. He quotes the game Raetsch-Liebert, Lasker Memorial Berlin 1962, where White achieved a winning edge but then "went off the rails" and lost. In introducing his section on 9...c4, Moles says the move "is considered inaccurate since Black has nothing to fear from 9...Bd7 10.c4 and theoretically should wait for White to commit his king bishop to e2 or d3 before closing the queenside." He concludes the section with  "White seems to have chances for the initiative with 10.g3; hence Black should avoid 9...c4, which has no special counter-virtues to justify the inconvenience of having to meet 10.g3".

In line with his comment of waiting for White to play Bf1 e2 or Bf1-d3, Moles considers 9...Bd7 10.Be2 c4 to be fine. It's his main line, as I noted back in Reply #16.

So the consensus from 1975 (Moles) to 2013 (Giddins) seems to be that 9...c4 is premature, and it's better to wait for White to develop his king bishop. More recently, however, 9...c4 has been played with some regularity.  ChessBase marks 9...c4 as a "hot" move.  Thus, it could be part of the apparent trend of Black closing the position by advancing his c-pawn and thereby aiming to play more strategically. It's interesting that Abdusattorov played the move. He's the strongest player to adopt it in recent years, although it was "just" in a blitz game.
  
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #33 - 10/06/23 at 19:29:08
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kylemeister - Thanks for those quotes regarding Fischer's attitude toward 7.Qg4.  They're quite pertinent, especially the one from Robert Byrne, since he's relating what Fischer told him directly.
  
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #32 - 10/06/23 at 19:25:54
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Dink Heckler wrote on 10/06/23 at 11:14:59:
I never realised that ECO codes changed - seems disconcerting.

I agree.  It was rather unsettling to open that new edition of ECO and find that switch.
  
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #31 - 10/06/23 at 13:29:27
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Dink Heckler wrote on 10/06/23 at 11:14:59:
I never realised that ECO codes changed - seems disconcerting.


Same here.

I can see that changing classifications over time has some merit, but perhaps not enough.
  
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #30 - 10/06/23 at 11:14:59
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Orthogonal to the main discussion, but I never realised that ECO codes changed - seems disconcerting.

Reminds me of the Simpson's quote:
"I used to be with 'it', but then they changed what 'it' was!"
  

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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #29 - 10/06/23 at 03:50:02
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"Bobby told me a long time ago that he felt 7 Q·N4 was only giving Black what he wanted, the chance for a dangerous countergambit by sacrificing the KNP. Originally I disagreed with him, but I came around to his point of view after my game with Uhlmann at Monaco a few years ago which, though I won, demonstrated some of the brilliant possibilities for Black.

The sounder move chosen here prepares for the development of the QB at QR3 and prevents any Queenside bind by . . . Q-R4-R5." -- Robert Byrne, annotating game one of the Fischer-Larsen match in Chess Life & Review

"Like Smyslov, Fischer had always much preferred the positional method to the pawn snatch with 7. Qg4." -- Jan Timman, annotating the same game in The Art of Chess Analysis
  
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #28 - 10/06/23 at 03:06:35
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FreeRepublic wrote on 09/30/23 at 15:15:46:
I seem to recall that Fischer was suspicious of 7Qg4 and preferred positional lines.

Fischer definitely seemed to favor the positional lines. A search of the Mega Database fails to find any examples of him playing 7.Qg4 in a mainline Winawer. The closest he came was 7.Qg4 in the Armenian Variation in his famous game vs. Tal at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad. Another game with Fischer playing a Qg4 maneuver that readily comes to mind is Fischer-Hook (in the eponymous Portisch-Hook variation) at the 1970 Siegen Olympiad . Fischer's most frequent adoption of Qg4 was in the several games where he employed 4.a3 vs. the Winawer, most notably in Fischer-Kovacevic, Rovinj/Zagreb 1970. However, as noted, not of these is the mainline Winawer with 7.Qg4.

Some comments by Edmar Mednis in his How to Beat Bobby Fischer may shed some light on Fischer's avoidance of 7.Qg4. In his annotations to Fischer-Geller, Monte Carlo 1967, Mednis describes the situation after Black's 18...Bb7 as "a crazy, wild, complicated, unbalanced position...Yet there is no strategically clear way to proceed with the attack. What is required is an intuitive juggling of a number of tactical opportunities. This means the position is not one where Fischer is at his best: yes, he's good in it but not great. It is truly a "Tal type" position..." While the Fischer-Geller game was a Sicilian, the description "crazy, wild, complicated, unbalanced" could easily fit the Winawer Poison Pawn.

At another point, when commenting on the Tarrasch Variation vs. the French, Mednis expressed the opinion that it "allows White to retain a small, but riskless initiative for many moves. This is exactly the situation that Bobby strives for with White, thus the Tarrasch should suit him to a T".

Combining the two Mednis comments leads to the thought that Fischer avoided the 7.Qg4 variation due to its murkiness and because he apparently thought he would have better control of things with less risk in the positional lines.  Also, Fischer famously called the Winawer "anti-positional", so what better way to combat it than the positional variations.

One last Mednis observation: he noted that Fischer ventured the Tarrasch only once (in Fischer-R. Byrne, US Championship 1965) despite its stylistic fit. According to Mednis, Fischer persisted in playing against the Winawer because it was "the only opening where the mature Fischer still shows signs of 'youthful stubbornness'".

FreeRepublic wrote on 09/30/23 at 15:15:46:
Theory does not stand still and 7Qg4 became the main line.

Apparently the positional lines were the main lines in Fischer's heyday since they were given at the very end of the ECO section on the Winawer. That's based on my impression that ECO organizes variations so that early deviations and sidelines come first, with the absolute main line coming at the end. The positional lines were assigned C19, the last of the ECO codes for the French, when the code system first appeared.  I was surprised to see ECO Volume C (5th edition 2006) had switched to 7.Qg4 as C19, and had reassigned C18 to the positional lines.  However, not everyone has followed suit. For example, ChessBase still has the positional lines classified as C19. Apparently the ECO folks made the switch in recognition of 7.Qg4 becoming the main line. I wonder if other changes are on the way. For example, the last code for the Queen's Gambit, D69, corresponds to the ancient Orthodox Defense, complete with Capablanca's freeing maneuver, which just isn't played much any more, at least at the top levels. And C99 is the Chigorin Variation in the Closed Ruy. Perhaps this should be superseded by the Berlin  Smiley
  
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Re: The French Defense Revisited
Reply #27 - 09/30/23 at 15:45:05
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I was reminded of this thread when I saw a game in the Armageddon Blitz Grand Finale, So-Abdusattorov, with 7. a4 Qa5 8. Bd2 Nbc6 9. Nf3. Here, after thinking for about 10 seconds (in a 3+2 game), Abdusattorov played the immediate 9...c4. Simon Williams commented that he had never seen Abdusattorov play the French before.

(An old book bit:  Nunn in NCO gave 10. g3 Bd7 11. Bg2 as slightly better for White, citing Boleslavsky-Barcza 1953.)
  
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