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  1. 01 May '07 07:47
    For the past several weeks, I've made a big deal about the French and have used it almost exclusively against e4. At first I had problems with the weak pawns after f6 and other aspects, but now, my skill has grown and I can handle most French positions well enough. (for my level) Moreover, the more I've used the French, the more it has grown on me.

    However, I can't help but wonder if there aren't some wrinkles in the French as there were in the Accelerated Dragon. And a las, I think I found something. After Nc3 and Nf6 (the safest and probably soundest), White plays Bg5. For over 5 hours I looked through the McCutheon, Classical and Burn variation until I finally went with the highest ELO players and chose the Burn variation to free Black's game. After that, it was a matter of playing Nbd7 or Be7 (with Bxf6 or gxf6). Again, I spent many hours sifting through all of this material and decided that the highest ELO players were right again and the best choice is Nd7. Now, upon closer scrutiny, there is one variation in particular that seems to cause Black trouble in the Nd7 variation of the Burn.

    Please tell me what you think of this, any improvements, Black's chances, etc.

    1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Nbd7
    6. Nf3 h6 7. Nxf6+ Nxf6 8. Bh4 c5 9. Bc4 cxd4 10. O-O Be7 11. Qe2 O-O 12. Rad1
    Qb6 13. Nxd4 Qxb2 14. Nf5 exf5 15. Qxe7 Be6 16. Bxe6 fxe6 17. Qxe6+ Kh8 18.
    Qxf5 Qxa2 19. Rd6 Qb2 20. Qd3 Rac8 21. c4 Qe5 22. Bxf6 Rxf6 23. Rd7 Rb6

    White to move
  2. 01 May '07 10:01
    Is 8..c5 theory?
  3. 01 May '07 10:23 / 1 edit
    I don't mean to sound rude, but at your level (and indeed any level!) the McCutcheon and classical lines are perfectly sound and much more fun to play than the boring Burn variation.
  4. 01 May '07 16:12
    4 .. Be7 I don't care for the burn.
  5. 01 May '07 17:47
    Originally posted by Golub
    Is 8..c5 theory?
    Yes, all the moves for Black are considered best. And yes, maybe the Classical and McCutheon are sound enough not to make a difference for my level, but the idea that objectively they aren't doing so well is enough to dissuade me. Moreover, the Classical gives Black even fewer winning chances than the Burn imo. (at least if White plays correctly)
  6. 01 May '07 20:08
    Play me some french games exigentsky. Experience is the best teacher...
  7. 02 May '07 04:34
    This is more about the objective evaluation of the position, not so much knowing exactly how to play. What do you think about the above position? (although I think you play the classical)
  8. 02 May '07 05:07
    Difficult position to assess at a glance, but i would say it's dynamically equal, meaning there are chances for both sides, but should be easy draw.
  9. 02 May '07 07:38 / 1 edit
    I felt much the same way and engine matches confirmed this. It was about 80% draw and 9% Black wins, 11% White wins. I'm just wondering if it's easy to play. I'm not sure.

    I also have a more troubling variation, Be3 instead of Bh4. I thought I had this solved but after engine games show White winning 70% of the time, I'm not so sure.
  10. 02 May '07 22:14
    Originally posted by exigentsky
    I felt much the same way and engine matches confirmed this. It was about 80% draw and 9% Black wins, 11% White wins. I'm just wondering if it's easy to play. I'm not sure.

    I also have a more troubling variation, Be3 instead of Bh4. I thought I had this solved but after engine games show White winning 70% of the time, I'm not so sure.
    Exi, I think you worry far too much about percentages. When are you going to stop worrying so much about objectivity and start thinking beyond percentages? You need to realize that percentages don't mean crap if you don't know how to play the position well. A classic example is probably the Smith-Morra which supposedly doesn't score well for white (mid 40%s is generally what I hear) but I have a lot of trouble against it - and I think most black players that don't know it very well do.

    Play what you like, not what scores 3% better than what you like.
  11. 02 May '07 22:47 / 1 edit
    For some reason at first glance I think I'd rather be black in that position, but really I can't see any advantage for either side... blacks rooks seem to have a wider scope and black has a passed pawn on the a-file... yet white has the advantage of moving... blacks rook is stuck on the back rank from the threat of mate... so really, it looks pretty drawish to me too.
  12. 03 May '07 05:59
    Originally posted by cmsMaster
    Exi, I think you worry far too much about percentages. When are you going to stop worrying so much about objectivity and start thinking beyond percentages? You need to realize that percentages don't mean crap if you don't know how to play the position well. A classic example is probably the Smith-Morra which supposedly doesn't score well for white (mid ...[text shortened]... t know it very well do.

    Play what you like, not what scores 3% better than what you like.
    I want to play a move that is either objectively best or equal. I don't worry too much about percentages in general, but when it's something so huge, it's clear that there are problems. Of course, I have to understand the positions and play them well. However, I can only feel comfortable really doing that once I know that my move is strong and completely sound.

    Right now I've evaluated the French Advance, French Exchange and the Nc3 French. Apart from the Be3 line, it seems that the Nc3 French has no objective problems. After I completely verify this, I just have to look at the c5 Tarrach, which I think is less trying than Nc3 and so I don't anticipate any problems. Once I finish this and feel comfortable that whatever White throws at me I can get an equal game and hopefully some decent counterplay (I gave up the Accelerated Dragon due to the lack of good counterplay vs the bind), then I start really trying to understand all the subtle points of the position. If I don't do this, I would waste a lot of time, because I can't seriously play an opening I don't fully trust.

    After I've reviewed the French, I'm going to look a bit more at the soundest Sicilians and e5. I currently think these are really the only fully sound defenses. Although, maybe the CK belongs there too because its practical results given both human and computer competition are very good. However, the freedom White gets is a bit scary and some lines look quite bad. Black is just fighting for a draw. Anyway, after I do this, I will be able to select my primary response to e4. It's a very involved process. I honestly doubt that even IMs have researched this so thoroughly.
  13. 07 May '07 18:57 / 1 edit
    Well, I've analyzed the e5, Nd2, Nc3 and exd5 variations of the French with the latest databases, engine opening books and analysis engines. In addition, I've also thoroughly considered the positions, ran several engine test suites and played several dozen games in the French. My conclusion is that the French is completely sound. I have found no severe weakness. However, as in the diagram, there are numerous cases where White gets a tiny but persistent edge or where White can achieve a draw without great challenge if it is his goal. (Burn variation, Tarrach and even Steinitz to some extent) Overall, a good opening at any level. It also is much more reliant on ideas than other defenses. It is also hard to crack early in the game.

    I'm not certain I'll use it as my primary opening, but it is definitely nice to know the French. Plus, I learned a lot about dealing with weaknesses like a bad bishop or a backward pawn. In fact, some of this knowledge will help me in any game and in some other openings, like the Najdorf.

    BTW: I also looked through some databases on the Caro-Kann and I can't find any lasting White advantage either. Still, it seems that the Nc3/Nd2 variation give White a more lasting edge than other responses.
  14. 07 May '07 19:30
    Originally posted by exigentsky
    Well, I've analyzed the e5, Nd2, Nc3 and exd5 variations of the French with the latest databases, engine opening books and analysis engines. In addition, I've also thoroughly considered the positions, ran several engine test suites and played several dozen games in the French. My conclusion is that the French is completely sound. I have found no severe we ...[text shortened]... l, it seems that the Nc3/Nd2 variation give White a more lasting edge than other responses.
    What is black's best response after...

    1. e4 e6
    2. d4 d5
    3. Nc3 ?

    Which variation got the best win percentage/chances for Black? Which variation is objectively best for Black?
  15. Donation !~TONY~!
    1...c5!
    07 May '07 19:47
    It's hard to read exigentskys posts anymore to be quite honest. You can only hear about "Well the best GM's play this, and I analyzed this for hours with an engine, and I checked this with chessbase, and this and this...." Chessbase statistics mean very little if you don't check them out right, and engine analysis is really only good in sharp positions. I would be willing to bet strong GM's would play that positions better than alot of commercial engines run on your computer. There will be a wrinkle in every damn variation you find! You want to know why? BECAUSE YOU ARE BLACK. THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS!!!!! Let me help you out dude:

    1. What positions do you like to play? Sharp or Positional?

    2. Do you like to press for a win as black, or are you content for a draw?

    3. Do you mind studying alot of theory?

    Pick an opening that suits your temperament and study needs. Then play it over and over again, fixing and researching your mistakes. You are sitting there analyzing a position well into the endgame, and worrying White has a slight edge. Who cares, you will never see that position. If you do, it won't matter, because neither side will play perfect. THat's chess, that's what's great.