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  1. 28 Jul '10 23:59
    Suddenly my rating has gone from mid-1300s to over 1600 by exclusive use of the French defense when playing black. Could someone please explain? Is this more than dumb luck? I don't have any chess books. What is the theory behind this defense?
  2. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    29 Jul '10 00:12 / 1 edit
    The odds are that at some intuitive level, the structure of the game feels natural for you, and the moves come easily. I think many people select what openings they play for this reason, whether intentionally or unconsciously.
  3. 29 Jul '10 00:13 / 1 edit
    Chess ratings go up and down when you play fast and play a lot of games.
    Maybe the structures from the French defense suit your style of play more.
    I'm sure you'll lose some rating points when you play against more 1600's
    instead of your usual 1400-1500 opponents.
  4. 29 Jul '10 00:27 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by camilli
    Suddenly my rating has gone from mid-1300s to over 1600 by exclusive use of the French defense when playing black. Could someone please explain? Is this more than dumb luck? I don't have any chess books. What is the theory behind this defense?
    Exactly the same thing happened to me. I love the French defence, it's so solid and I know exactly what I'm supposed to be doing from the start of the game to the finish and so my moves always have a purpose. I think it's the only defence I know really well. Or is it? 😉

    I think the idea behind it is to remove white's two centre pawns but keep yours and then push both your centre pawns up for the win. At least that's how I play it. It's also good to open the f and c files for your rooks.

    I'm sure more experienced players will be able to comment on more of the nuances behind it.
  5. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    29 Jul '10 00:29
    Originally posted by gorookyourself
    Chess ratings go up and down when you play fast and play a lot of games.
    Maybe the structures from the French defense suit your style of play more.
    I'm sure you'll lose some rating points when you play against more 1600's
    instead of your usual 1400-1500 opponents.
    My experience has been that, on the site, below 2000 a few hundred points either way doesn't mean all that much, unless both players have played a BUNCH of games.

    When you start on the site with a p1200, you often have to play lower players just to get started, so often there will be a 1500 player with 20 games under his belt, but he plays much stronger than that, and simply hasn't played enough games to raise his rating enough.

    The rating formula also accounts for variations in ratings, so you rating should not fluctuate much based on who you play. You lose more playing higher players, but you lose fewer rating points when you lose to the higher player, and you gain more points when you win.

    A great example is my friend Niculae and I (we met and play on the site). He's about 1400 and I'm about 1800 (+/-). We've played 74 games so far, and I've won 68 and he's won 6.

    From a ratings formula perspective, I get a point or two if I win, and he gets something like 32 points if he wins. Given that, I am probably a net loser in rating points when we play- I have lots to lose and little to gain.

    The real trick is that we don't care about ratings. He is a creative and almost manic attacker, and I consider our games good defensive practice- and the few times he has shellacked me have been classics. We play for fun, never time each other out if we see a skull (even though we play a 1/0 time control), and as long as he sends me another game, I'll happily play.

    I have a newer friend (Ellis Burke from down under), and he was 1500-something until he played me. He's whacked me for some 120 points in the last three weeks, and now he's over 1600- I joke that the new "hill" in his profile rating graph is where my chess corpse is buried!

    I think it's valuable to use your rating as a guidepost for yourself (it's not perfect, but it's worth watching), but take all other ratings with a grain of salt, as you may be surprised.

    Paul
  6. 30 Jul '10 13:45
    So the lesson is, forget about ratings and enjoy chess.
    ...and take up the French defense for a quick 100 points 🙂
  7. 30 Jul '10 13:53
    Yes - enjoy yourself. Play Hunter-Seeker v their King

    The French explanation under 1400 is easy.

    After 1,e4 e6



    You have stopped their Bc4 & Qf3/Qh5 idea.

    They don't know what to do now so will play random moves.

    Meanwhile Black can still play his Bc5 and Qf6/Qh4 idea. 🙂
  8. 30 Jul '10 14:02
    Originally posted by greenpawn34
    Yes - enjoy yourself. Play Hunter-Seeker v their King

    The French explanation under 1400 is easy.

    After 1,e4 e6

    [fen]rnbqkbnr/pppp1ppp/4p3/8/4P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 2[/fen]

    You have stopped their Bc4 & Qf3/Qh5 idea.

    They don't know what to do now so will play random moves.

    Meanwhile Black can still play his Bc5 and Qf6/Qh4 idea. 🙂
    I don't play the "Monkey's Bum" set up, but I have played against it too many times.
  9. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    30 Jul '10 15:26
    Originally posted by camilli
    Suddenly my rating has gone from mid-1300s to over 1600 by exclusive use of the French defense when playing black. Could someone please explain? Is this more than dumb luck? I don't have any chess books. What is the theory behind this defense?
    Taking up the French about seven years ago pushed my USCF rating into Class A. Now, in my effort to break into expert class, I'm returning to the Sicilian.
  10. Standard member hunterknox
    Hopeless romantic
    30 Jul '10 23:10
    Maybe you're naturally drawn to boring, lifeless chess.
  11. 30 Jul '10 23:12
    Originally posted by hunterknox
    Maybe you're naturally drawn to boring, lifeless chess.
    Ha! Take that. 😛
  12. 30 Jul '10 23:15
    This game was meant to get tagged onto the end of my last post.

    I advocate that The French is good because it stops White from playing
    Scholars mate but not Black.

    Desouki - Mousa87 RHP 2009 (4 moves)

  13. Standard member ChessPraxis
    Cowboy From Hell
    31 Jul '10 00:00
    Originally posted by Wulebgr
    Taking up the French about seven years ago pushed my USCF rating into Class A. Now, in my effort to break into expert class, I'm returning to the Sicilian.
    I have had such struggles against The French over the years, that I nearly started playing it myself.
    (Please do not tell anyone though)
  14. 31 Jul '10 00:30
    Originally posted by camilli
    Suddenly my rating has gone from mid-1300s to over 1600 by exclusive use of the French defense when playing black. Could someone please explain? Is this more than dumb luck? I don't have any chess books. What is the theory behind this defense?
    I recently converted to the French as well and while I love it I wish I could claim the gains you've made.

    I find when playing the French the "right" moves are more often natural, or intuitive. Especially when white plays the advance variation. I love it when they push that pawn on move 3!
  15. 31 Jul '10 03:50
    Originally posted by USArmyParatrooper
    I recently converted to the French as well and while I love it I wish I could claim the gains you've made.

    I find when playing the French the "right" moves are more often natural, or intuitive. Especially when white plays the advance variation. I love it when they push that pawn on move 3!