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  1. 14 Aug '11 22:37
    I think my record vs. the French has got to be around 25% at this point. I've been playing 3.Nc3 and just getting smashed. In the Winnawer I never have any idea what is going on, and I mean this literally. I just played a game where I was sure I has an advantage... Turn on Fritz, my position is so bad it's giving -2.00. No tactics just a really crappy position. And against the Classical things are even worse. I'm tied down to my center until it inevitably collapses. It's just so easy for black to find great positions for his knights while mine just end up in passive positions. It's infuriating.

    Anyway what do you guys play versus the French and what are your experiences? Are there any easier systems out there that aren't just cop outs (e.g. exchange variation, KIA)?
  2. 14 Aug '11 23:27
    Originally posted by Elmyr
    I think my record vs. the French has got to be around 25% at this point. I've been playing 3.Nc3 and just getting smashed. In the Winnawer I never have any idea what is going on, and I mean this literally. I just played a game where I was sure I has an advantage... Turn on Fritz, my position is so bad it's giving -2.00. No tactics just a really crappy position ...[text shortened]... ere any easier systems out there that aren't just cop outs (e.g. exchange variation, KIA)?
    There's the Tarrasch but that's not easier.
    I play the 'cop out' exchange and KIA myself,but sometimes I use the Schlechter variation.
    It's a rare,exotic bird.Mark Bluvshtein is the only protagonist I know of.

    Have a look and make up your own mind.
  3. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    14 Aug '11 23:29 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Elmyr
    I think my record vs. the French has got to be around 25% at this point. I've been playing 3.Nc3 and just getting smashed. In the Winnawer I never have any idea what is going on, and I mean this literally. I just played a game where I was sure I has an advantage... Turn on Fritz, my position is so bad it's giving -2.00. No tactics just a really crappy position ere any easier systems out there that aren't just cop outs (e.g. exchange variation, KIA)?
    As a lifelong KIA fan, I feel obligated to share this example of Fischer "copping out" with the KIA vs the French.


  4. 15 Aug '11 03:05
    I understand you guys have your pet systems but I think I'm better off playing main lines. I feel like that's the best way to improve. Maybe just to spite you guys I'll stick with 3.Nc3 then.
  5. 15 Aug '11 03:45
    Originally posted by Elmyr
    I understand you guys have your pet systems but I think I'm better off playing main lines. I feel like that's the best way to improve. Maybe just to spite you guys I'll stick with 3.Nc3 then.
    No doubt in my mind that this is the best way to play. A quick look at the results of superGM and top correspondence games show that the Winawer is absolutely nothing to be scared of as white. A few hours studying Anand's Winawer games as white will take you a long way. If you're interested in more, for lack of a better word, psychotic chess - Morozevich seems to do well as white by simply hurling his H pawn up the board in almost all French lines.
  6. 15 Aug '11 06:55
    Originally posted by torten
    There's the Tarrasch but that's not easier.
    I play the 'cop out' exchange and KIA myself,but sometimes I use the Schlechter variation.
    It's a rare,exotic bird.Mark Bluvshtein is the only protagonist I know of.

    Have a look and make up your own mind.
    [pgn]1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 {!? now 99.9% of your opponents are out of book,think you're an idiot and they ...[text shortened]... d that's all the theory I know.I think it's pretty much all there is too.Game on!}[/pgn]
    French Defence Schlechter Variation. 5. .... Bf3.
  7. 15 Aug '11 09:38 / 1 edit
    Have a look at the 7.Nf3 and 7.a4 lines of the Winawer. I started playing these after seeing a few games of Fischer.



    I like the way that one of White's bishops goes to a3 (the idea behind a4) and the other ends up on h3.
  8. 15 Aug '11 10:40
    Originally posted by NMMN
    No doubt in my mind that this is the best way to play. A quick look at the results of superGM and top correspondence games show that the Winawer is absolutely nothing to be scared of as white. A few hours studying Anand's Winawer games as white will take you a long way. If you're interested in more, for lack of a better word, psychotic chess - Morozevich seems to do well as white by simply hurling his H pawn up the board in almost all French lines.
    The only problem with this type of advice is that we are not super GMs or even top correspondence players. Yes, those guys don't fear the Winawer but we are not those guys. I suspect that is the reason people at our level play c3 against Sicilians while super GMs etc play "proper" open Sicilians and are willing to go into whatever the cult of Najdorf dictates is flavour of the month. If you don't understand it despite trying for considerable time, don't play it. Playing things you don't understand will lead to pain and loss.

    So, how to combat the French without deviating from the standard stuff too much but without having to become a super GM overnight. I honestly don't have a sensible answer. My answer to the openings I didn't like (and my inherent aversion to studying openings) was to play something that disallows just about everything I don't like. That works for me but won't work for someone who likes 1. e4, and to be honest someone can always come up with something unpleasant no matter how esoteric your chosen opening.

    I think you are just going to have to apply your nose to the grindstone and try to find something that works for you. There isn't a quick fix for this, if there were we'd all be doing it. The best way to investigate what works for you is probably to play! You can always set up thematic games here and find someone sensible to play against (yes, such creatures do exist) and then dissect the game afterwards. Just don't ask me, I fail the test of sensibleness and have no idea what the French is all about.
  9. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    15 Aug '11 14:41
    Elmyr- When you encounter an opening that is known to be good/decent and yet your results are poor this is a sign that there is a weakness in your game. This is an opportunity to shore up your game.

    1) The French is a pretty main stream opening with countless model games- go over a batch of them in the lines you are struggling with. I think Tal- Botvinnik 1960 book was a bunch of Winawer games- that might be fun for you to play through since Tal didn't love that sort of position.

    2) Get a buddy and play a bunch of games back and forth taking opposite sides from the start of your mainline. Record the games and then analyze them later.

    3) Find someone on RHP who is a devoted French player and ask them what lines they find most problematic.

    etc.
  10. 15 Aug '11 16:22
    Play the French as black and watch how white beats you then study it.
  11. 15 Aug '11 17:17
    Let it put me this way:
    My actual CC ELO being above 2400 I think I am a very experienced (and good) CC player. My former OTB rating wasn't that bad either:-) During the last 100 tournament games I played on a high rating average on the ICCF server there have been 3 or 4 French openings and I won them all - easily. The French is not appreciated by high rated players because it's by far too easy for White not only to build up an initiative but to keep it until the endgame. I won't recommend any special opening line/variation I have been playing whenever meeting the French because some of them are extremely risky and you'll play with the back to the wall. However that exactly is the reason I would never ever play the French myself. White's alternatives are multitudinous and as Black you'll have to fight for an equal game from the very beginning. And that isn't that funny, believe me. The scope of Black's light-squared bishop isn't much more than that of a pawn. The reason why experienced French specialists play:
    1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe 4.Nxe4 Bd7 followed by Bc6. Odd looking but logic: to get rid of this awkward bishop and to take on e4 whenever White allows it. This set up however has its drawbacks as Black abandon their pair of bishops in an early phase of the opening etc. Play against the French the main lines and you'll be always on the sunny side of the street if not blundering:-)
  12. 15 Aug '11 18:17
    This KIA game against the french is also nice

  13. 15 Aug '11 19:00
    Nimzo I checked chessgames.com and I only see 1 Tal-Botvinnik Winawer: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1032529

    And that's what I'm talking about. That game looks like pure insanity to me, which is why Tal probably pulled it out. I have absolutely no confidence in my ability to find a move like 11.Kd1!.

    NMMM it looks like you're absolutely right... at least in this database Anand's record vs. the Winawer is incredible:

    http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?yearcomp=exactly&year=&playercomp=either&pid=12088&player=&pid2=&player2=&movescomp=exactly&moves=&opening=C15-C19&eco=&result=

    I think I'll start there. Also thanks to Fat Lady for Fischer suggestion. Americans represent.

    Probably missed some other comments, sorry about that. All advice is appreciated except for watchyourbackrank's who must think he's edgy by derailing a thread in a chess forum.
  14. Subscriber Paul Leggett
    Chess Librarian
    15 Aug '11 19:51 / 1 edit
    This might be a little offbeat and edgy, but you could also look at Veresov games for some insight. Very often the opening transposes to the French, but there are opportunities to take black in a direction he might not have considered.

    I have a theory that GMs play the Veresov to trick unsuspecting players into the French, but that's just a guess!

    For example, look at this game by GM Jonny Hector. It's nominally a Veresov, but it's effectively a French at move 3. He agreed to a draw after 12 moves, but I'd be happy to play on as white in the final position. I think it was a final round, which might explain the draw.

    EDIT: As an aside, the idea of g3 and Bg2 is a well-known idea from the Trompowski, which is another example of how openings cross-pollinate.

  15. Standard member nimzo5
    Ronin
    15 Aug '11 21:10
    Originally posted by Elmyr
    Nimzo I checked chessgames.com and I only see 1 Tal-Botvinnik Winawer: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1032529

    And that's what I'm talking about. That game looks like pure insanity to me, which is why Tal probably pulled it out. I have absolutely no confidence in my ability to find a move like 11.Kd1!.

    NMMM it looks like you're absolutely ri ...[text shortened]... for watchyourbackrank's who must think he's edgy by derailing a thread in a chess forum.
    Hmm, true, Bot switched to the Caro after that first game..I just remember that game it made an impression on me at the time.