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  1. 19 Sep '08 01:54
    Here is a reason to play the French Defense. I put this in another forum too, but thought I should make it a header as well.


    The French does take a certain temperment to play it right. Sometimes you fight for 10 moves or so just for control of a single square. The thing I like best about it is its rock solidness. It is very hard for white to work up a quick attack if played correctly. Black has the clear cut plans too. (Make white advance to e5, play c5 to undermine d4, play f6 to get rid of the e5 wedge, and use the two center pawns on e6 and d5 to get a queen.) In my opinion, the absolute best book on the French is Mastering The French With The Read And Play Method. It's by McDonald & Harley. They may have revised it, I don't know (my edition is 1997). It has chapters based on the pawn structures rather than variations. A close second is Play The French By John Watson ( I have the 2nd Edition, although a 3rd Edition is in print). It has every conceivable move white can through at you in analysis format (not database games printed out). It only covers the Winawer vs 3. Nc3 (the new edition as has 3. ... Nf6), but gives more than one variation for black. Number 3 on my French list is Winning With The French By Uhlmann. It is outrageously prices sometimes, but I found a cheap copy on ebay. It is 60 of his games in every variation with the French. This is a GM who plays ONLY the French. It includes a win and draw on the black side with Fischer. Other French advocates include Emanuel Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine,Botvinnik (Big French Player), and Korchnoi.

    AS I SAID YOU HAVE TO BE VERY PATIENT TO PLAY THE FRENCH.

    If you take it up though, it is a defense you will NEVER have to give up, unlike all the fun gambits and unorthodox openings that don't hold up.
  2. 19 Sep '08 02:07
    Originally posted by paulbuchmanfromfics
    Here is a reason to play the French Defense. I put this in another forum too, but thought I should make it a header as well.


    The French does take a certain temperment to play it right. Sometimes you fight for 10 moves or so just for control of a single square. The thing I like best about it is its rock solidness. It is very hard for whit ...[text shortened]... NEVER have to give up, unlike all the fun gambits and unorthodox openings that don't hold up.
    You don't have to give up the KG... thats a fun gambit.
  3. 19 Sep '08 02:28
    I didn't mean the King's Gambit. I meant the really fun stuff. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d5 (Elephant Gambit), 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 f5 (Latvian), 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4 (Bullfrog), 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nxe5 (Halloween), 1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. f4 (Halasz). Blackmar-Diemer, Alapin French, Diemer-Duhm Gambit, Tennison Gambit, Sicilian Wing Gambit, you know the REALLY FUN STUFF.
  4. Standard member paultopia
    High Priest
    19 Sep '08 03:20
    Originally posted by paulbuchmanfromfics
    Here is a reason to play the French Defense
    sadomasochism?
  5. 19 Sep '08 03:23
    Thanks for the post. I've been looking for something else in my toolbox against 1)e4. I play Scanandinavian, so meeting the e5 advance with c5 is a familiar pawn structure that I could feel at home with in the French.

    Some rookie questions: Does the f6 push weaken the castled position? How big a problem is the c8 bishop? When you say French, I think "cramped", is this true? Any of your games you could put up?

    Again thanks!
  6. 19 Sep '08 03:39 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by MontyMoose
    Thanks for the post. I've been looking for something else in my toolbox against 1)e4. I play Scanandinavian, so meeting the e5 advance with c5 is a familiar pawn structure that I could feel at home with in the French.

    Some rookie questions: Does the f6 push weaken the castled position? How big a problem is the c8 bishop? When you say French, I think "cramped", is this true? Any of your games you could put up?

    Again thanks!
    Actually, knowing the caro-kann would help a lot in this position as well. I play the 3...c5 variation against the advance in the caro and I love it. Actually, the e5 advance in the scandinavian is bad because you get that type of Caro/french position with a tempo up! This is why 2.exd5 is best for white in the center-counter.

    Back to the french...I've never played it as black but I know it can be similar to the Caro, but people say it's more dynamic, while still being solid. This is probably why many French players also play the Caro quite a bit, such as Botvinnik (in his case...played).
  7. 19 Sep '08 04:11
    Originally posted by MontyMoose
    Thanks for the post. I've been looking for something else in my toolbox against 1)e4. I play Scanandinavian, so meeting the e5 advance with c5 is a familiar pawn structure that I could feel at home with in the French.

    Some rookie questions: Does the f6 push weaken the castled position? How big a problem is the c8 bishop? When you say French, I think "cramped", is this true? Any of your games you could put up?

    Again thanks!
    Answers to the questions
    Does the f6 push weaken the castled position? After exf6, black usually captures with Nxf6. There are sufficient defenders on the kingside. I don't think attacks occur that often. After exf6, there is a black hole on e5 though. Not to worry, black usually covers it very well with the knight on c6 and possibly Bd6. Sometimes, even Bxf6 is played. Black can even play e5 and get rid of the backward pawn busting the position wide open.

    How big a problem is the c8 bishop? I'm not going to lie. It is inactive a lot of the time. Sometimes, black plays Bd7, a6, and Bb5 to trade it off. Sometimes black plays b6 and Ba6. It tends to get active later in the game (and after the e5 push I mentioned above). Be warned one of the worst endings you can have as black is Bd7 with pawns all on white squares vs a knight. Luckily that doesn't happen very often, and has yet to happen to me here.

    When you say French, I think "cramped", is this true? White does get that pawn on e5, but black gets a lot of space on the queenside after c5. White has a little more space, but it's nothing to worry about.

    Any of your games you could put up?
    I'll look into that. Maybe I will later. I hate to post wins over others in these forums though. It may hurt someone's feelings. I may find a few and send them to you with no name playing white.
  8. 19 Sep '08 04:20
    Originally posted by passedpawn22
    Actually, knowing the caro-kann would help a lot in this position as well. I play the 3...c5 variation against the advance in the caro and I love it. Actually, the e5 advance in the scandinavian is bad because you get that type of Caro/french position with a tempo up! This is why 2.exd5 is best for white in the center-counter.

    Back to the french. ...[text shortened]... many French players also play the Caro quite a bit, such as Botvinnik (in his case...played).
    There are a few differences with the Caro-Kann. Number one is the Panov-Botvinnik attack is a real pain to play with black. Number two is that in the Caro-Kann, although black doesn't have a bad bishop, he gives up his stance in the center (after dxe4). White tends to use all the center squares for pieces and to develop attacks. I feel better having a pawn up there in my part of the center.
    I like 2. Nc3 vs the Scandinavian. First of all 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Bg4 is a little worrysome. Also, 2. exd5 Qa5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 is not my cup of tea. I am without doubt it is the best line and has kept the scandinavian under a dark cloud until Emms and others starting making money publishing books about it. The problem I have had is the d4 pawn can be eliminated later on by c5 or e5. I would rather have a pawn on c3 than that darn knight.
    After 2. Nc3 dxe4 3. Nxe4 is about even. A live game of mine went 3. ... e5 4. Bc4 Bf5 5. Qf3 ( and later Qb3 and Ng5)
    After 2. ... d4 3. Nce2 is a nice closed maneuvering game.
  9. 19 Sep '08 09:56
    Originally posted by paulbuchmanfromfics
    How big a problem is the c8 bishop? I'm not going to lie. It is inactive a lot of the time. Sometimes, black plays Bd7, a6, and Bb5 to trade it off. Sometimes black plays b6 and Ba6. It tends to get active later in the game (and after the e5 push I mentioned above).
    Another good plan for the white squared bishop is, after castling and playing f6, to play Bd7-e8-g6/h5. It's a bit slow but if the game is quiet, it can work well.
  10. 19 Nov '08 12:36
    Another good thing about the f-pawn push is re-capturing it with the g-pawn. This makes a mess around your king but don't worry-you don't castle at all! the black King shelters behind a mass of central pawns and this pawn shield will inch forward leaving the white bits stumbling to get out of the way. meanwhile the open g-file is obviously tempting for blacks rooks.The king doesn't have to stay on the back rank or two by the way. He often follows tightly behind the pawn shield as it advances, using himself as a fighting piece, defending pawns and important squares etc. It is amusing to see that in this style of game (when it works) it is white who has the cramped position and black has all the space!
  11. 19 Nov '08 23:15 / 1 edit
    I also recommend playing the french. I really enjoy both Watson's 3rd edition Play The French! and Neil McDonald's French Winawer books . McDonald's book inspired this particular game:

    Game 2504043

    The part I love best is when people disparage it as being closed, quiet and boring then f6 hits and the game explodes. That being said I have played many-a-game here I snatch a pawn with the setup white Bb5? black Nc6 & Bd7 allowing Nxe5. From there I just hold onto the pawn and simplify toward a won endgame.

    and for reference, here's a slightly slower variation and my latest french game to finish.

    Game 5645617 Note that the advance variation was played. Among my opponents it's far and away the top choice of white variations. It is also the least tactical, so those of you who groan every time you see a french, try something other than 3. e5.
  12. 19 Nov '08 23:31
    I now have the 3rd Edition of Watson's Play The French as well.

    I mentioned the differences in my reviews, but will do so again.

    1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2

    2nd Edition 3. ... Nf6 is covered (It leads to typical French Defense positions.) It is my preferred method (and I've even dabbled with 3. ... Nc6). (In 2nd 3. ... Nf6 and 3. ... d5 are the two covered.)

    3rd Edition 3. ... Be7 is covered (in place of 3. ... Nf6). The move is interesting. The lack of theory is a double edged sword. Many of the variations simply haven't been test out yet. In some variations, you lose a tempo recaptured on c5. All in all, it is interesting and playable.

    1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4

    2nd Edition 7. ... Qc7 is the suggestion. This is one of the most tactical lines that can arise. I really enjoy the variations.

    3rd Edition 7. ... 0-0 replaces my favorite variation. He mentions the advancement in theory of the poisoned pawn variation (7. ... Qc7) but says he does not believe it is in bad shape theoretically (despite the analysis of some other authors). 7. ... 0-0 is a strong move and does give black a fine position. I still prefer the Qc7 variation though.
  13. 20 Nov '08 05:06 / 1 edit
    There are at least two variations in which Black tries to get rid of his QB quickly:

    Fort Knox Variation: 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 de 4 Ne4 Bd7 5 Nf3 Bc6, with the idea of swapping the bad bishop for one of the good knights. (Karpov once beat Kamsky from the Black side of this variation.)

    Against the Advanced Variation: 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 a6 4 Nf3 Bd7, followed by ...Bb5 sooner or later. (This line is recommended by Jeremy Silman in an old repertoire book of his from 1986 called A Complete Black Repertoire.)