French Defense
15 Dec 2010, 22:03:15
The French has its pros and cons. First thing you should be aware of is that it can result in a cramped game for Black early on and if it does not match your particular playing style it can be more harmful than not. On the other hand there is no reason to fear playing it because it can be very solid. In the French black can make his strides on the queenside while White tends to concentrate on the kingside. The opening moves of the French is 1.e4-e6, the game usually continues 2.d4-d5. Here white stakes his claim in the center, while black challenges whites pawn on e4. Now white has quite a few options here, he can defend the e4 pawn with 3.Nc3 or 3.Nd2, he can exchange pawns with 3.exd5, or he can advance the pawn forward with 3.e5. 3.Nc3 is the most commonly played move involving the French to which black now has three possible answers which are, 3.dxe4, 3.Bb4 or 3.Nf6,(3.Nf6 is the Classical French and I discuss it below). Now playing 3.dxe4(which could follow 3.Nd2 as well as 3.Nc3)white has a more open game for development with space in the center, while black tries to even the situation by playing c5 at some point. After 4.Nxe4, blacks most common plays are 4.Bd7 5.Nf3-Bc6 or 4.Nd7 5.Nf3-Ngf6 6.Nxf6+-Nxf6. With 3.Bb4 black pins the knight on c3, forcing White to play 4.e5, thus gaining space. Black can play 4.Ne7, though the usual move is 4.c5, to which the usual reply to both is 5.a3-Bxc3+ 6.bxc3. In the Classical French with 3.Nf6 white can continue with 4.e5, which is the Steinitz Variation or 4.Bg5, which threatens 5.e5, attacking the knight pinned on f6. The most usual move in this case is 4.dxe4, called the Burn Variation. The most common continuation here is 5.Nxe4-Be7 6.Bxf6-Bxf6 7.Nf3-Nd7 or 7.0-0.. Here black has two bishops, with better chances, although whites knight on e4 is nicely placed, so this line is more popular. Black can also try 5.Nxe4-Be7 6.Bxf6-gxf6.

Classical French

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "?"] [Black "?"] [Result "*"] [WhiteELO "?"] [BlackELO "?"] %Created by Caissa's Web PGN Editor %Orient=B %Display=999 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6

Edited on 16 Dec 2010 at 05:48:51
16 Dec 2010, 01:32:56
Good assesment of the french.The other drawback to it is the queen bishop which is often stuck behind the e6 pawn.I don't often venture the french but on the occasions I try it I am always looking to play (if possible) b6 and Ba6 exchanging the bad bishop recapturing with the knight at b8 and oftentimes repositioning it back to b8 and after an eventual c5 nc6.

Playing either side of the french to me is akin to having my teeth pulled without novacaine.Painful for me from both sides.I usually lose as both White and Black which is an amazing feat when you think about it.Wiz is a terrific French player hopefully he sees this thread and chimes in with his thoughts
16 Dec 2010, 06:13:45
I have met with quite some sucess in using both the French and the Caro-Kann, especially against some higher rated players. Both of these defenses are similiar and pose problems for black but they are still quite solid and in my experience both these defenses intice white into making a mistake as he tries to gain advantage through the cramped playing space because most times it is a closed game with a lot of maneuvering for position and that can be tricky. I admit in a fair number of games I had only managed a draw with these two defenses so you must be a patient player to play them effectively. Sometimes these two just do not click with everyones playing style, espically a to sharp tactician like Fisher, Alekhine or Tal, but they happen to suit my playing style a bit better than 1. e4-e5 or 1.e4-c5.
Edited on 16 Dec 2010 at 16:22:03
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