## French Defence: Key Variations for Young Players

### Edition 2.8, January, 96

1. e4 e6, French Defence- Introduction
- White avoids 2.d4
- 2. d4
- White avoids 3. Nc3
- The main line 3. Nc3

# Introduction

The French is a solid and safe defence which you will certainly meet and may like to play yourself as a reply to 1. e4. In these notes I will give a quick run-down on the main variations of the French, and give an example line for each variation so you can get some idea of how to play for each side.Variations I recommend for White include the Alekhin-Chatard Attack and the Alekhin Gambit against the Winawer. Black's best line is certainly the Winawer, but there are safer alternatives like the Classical or Burn Variations. The Tarrasch is a line for later on in your chess life, in my opinion.

# White avoids 2.d4

## 2. d3 The King's Indian Attack

**2... d5**

**3. Nd2**

Prevents the exchange of Queens after 3...dxe4

**3... Nf6 4. Ngf3**

### 4... c5 (Variation A)

**5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 b5 9. e5
Nd7 10. Nf1 a5 11. h4 b4 12. Bf4 a4 13. a3 bxa3 14. bxa3
Nd4**

### 4... b6 (Variation B)

**5. g3 Bb7 6. Bg2 Be7 7. O-O c5 8. Re1
Nc6**

Other ways of avoiding 2. d4 include the
**Tchigorin variation** 2. Qe2, and the **Two
Knights' Variation** with 2. Nf3.

## 2. Qe2, Tchigorin variation

Against the Tchigorin Black can play*2...c5*or even

*2...e5*. Play is often like the King's Indian Attack.

## 2. Nf3, Two Knights' Variation

The Two Knights' often transposes into Advance lines after**2...d5, 3. Nc3 Nf6, 4. e5 Nd7, 5. d4
c5**

The main lines of the French start with

# 2. d4

When Black should reply### 2... d5

# White avoids 3. Nc3

3. Nd2 (Tarrasch Variation)

3. exd5 (Exchange Variation)

3. e5 (Advance Variation)

## 3. Nd2 The Tarrasch Variation

This avoids the pin ...Bb4 and keeps c3 open for a pawn. Black has two approaches - one open (3...c5), one closed (3...Nf6).

### 3... c5 (Variation A)

**4. exd5 exd5**

*4... Qxd5 has been tried*

And now White has two choices: to continue normal development, or to aim for immediate exchanges in the hope of a better endgame.

5.Ngf3 (Variation A1)

**5... Nc6 6. Bb5 Bd6 7. O-O Nge7 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9.
Nb3 Bd6 10. Nbd4 O-O 11. c3 Bg4 12. Qa4 Qd7 13. Be3 a6**

#### 5.Bb5+ Bd7 6. Qe2+ (Variation A2)

### 3... Nf6 (Variation B)

**4. e5 Nfd7**

#### 5.Bd3 (Variation B1)

5... c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ne2 cxd4 8. cxd4 Qb6*8... Nb6 is the Leningrad variation*

9. Nf3 f6 10. exf6 Nxf6 11. O-O Bd6 12. Nc3 O-O 13. Re1 Bd7

#### 5. f4 (Variation B2)

This is a much sharper try**5... c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ndf3 Qb6 8. g3 cxd4 9. cxd4
Bb4+ 10. Kf2 f5 11. Kg2**

## The Advance Variation 3. e5

**3... c5**

The key counter-blow in the French

**4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3**

### 5... Qb6 (Variation A)

Bd3 (risky), Be2 (safe), or a3 (best).

6. Bd3 (A1, The Milner-Barry
Gambit )

**6... cxd4 7. cxd4 Bd7**

An ancient trap is *7...Nxd4 8 Nxd4 Qxd4 9. Bb5+
(DIAGRAM)*

*Diagram (trap*)

**8. O-O Nxd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4 10. Nc3**

**10... a6**

(*10... Qxe5 is risky but playable*)

Now 11. Qe2 with the idea of following up with Rd1; White has some pressure but Black has prospects of a win with the extra pawn

#### 6. Be2 (Variation A2)

**6...cxd4 7. cxd4 Nge7**

##### 8. Na3 (Try 1)

this is perhaps the most logical way toplay

8... Nf5 9. Nc2 Bb4+ 10. Kf1

(i) 10... h5 securing the position of the Nf5

(ii) 10... Be7 so if 11. g4, 11...Nh4 keeps the balance of attack and defence of d4

8. Nc3 (Try 2 -)

A simple approach.
8... Nf5 9. Na4 Qa5+ 10. Bd2 Bb4 11. Bc3 Bxc3+ 12. Nxc3 Qb6 13. Bb5 Bd7

#### 6. a3 (Variation A3)

**6... c4 7. g3**

*7. Nbd2 Na5 (better 7... f6) 8. b4 cxb3 9. c4 is a
dangerous gambit -- Keres.*

**7... f6**

### 5... Bd7 (Variation B)

**6. Be2 Rc8**

3. exd5 The Exchange
Variation

**3...exd5**

**4. Bd3 Nc6 5. c3 Bd6 6. Qf3 Be6 7. Ne2 Nge7**

# The main line 3. Nc3

## Section I: Black avoids the Winawer

These are the older lines with 3...dxe4 and 3...Nf6.### 3... dxe4 The Rubinstein Variation

**4. Nxe4 Nd7**

*4... Bd7 5. Bd3*

**5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Nxf6+ Nxf6 7. Bd3 Be7 8. Qe2 O-O
9. Bg5 c5 10. dxc5 Qa5+**

The Classical French 3...
Nf6

This safe and solid line has always been a reliable way of holding
White's initiative, but it is not as easy to play for a win.

4. e5 The Steinitz
Variation

This has recently become more fashionable. An example line goes:

**4... Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Qb6 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3**

**9... cxd4 10. b4 Nxb4**

This difficult piece sacrifice has become very topical.

**11. cxb4 Bxb4+ 12. Bd2 Bxd2+ 13. Nxd2 b6 14. Rb1
Ba6 15. Qb3**

#### 4. Bg5 The Classical Variation

##### 4... dxe4, The Burn Variation

**5. Nxe4 Be7 6. Bxf6**

And Black has tried both recaptures:

###### 6...Bxf6 (Variation 1)

**7. Nf3 Nd7 8. Qd2 O-O 9.O-O-O b6 10. d5 Ne5 11. Qf4 Ng6 12. Nxf6+ Qxf6 13. Qxf6 gxf6**

###### 6... gxf6 (Variation 2)

After 7. Nf3 Black hopes the two bishops and

open d- and g-files will give active play.

##### 4... Bb4, The MacCutcheon Variation

**5. e5 h6 6. Bd2 Bxc3 7. bxc3 Ne4 8. Qg4 g6 9. Bd3
Nxd2 10. Kxd2 c5 11. Qf4 Nc6 12. Nf3**

##### 4... Be7 The Classical Variation

**5. e5 Nfd7**

6. Bxe7, the safe Classical line.

6. h4, the aggressive Alekhin-Chatard attack.

###### 6. Bxe7 Main Line Classical Variation

**6...Qxe7**

**7. f4 O-O 8. Nf3 c5 9. Bd3 f5 10. exf6 Rxf6 11. Qd2 Nc6 12. dxc5 Nxc5**

###### 6. h4 The Alekhin-Chatard Attack

White offers a pawn for chances of attack.**6... Bxg5 7. hxg5 Qxg5 8. Nh3 Qe7 9.
Qg4**

## Section II: The Winawer Variation 3... Bb4

### 4. Nge2 The Alekhin Gambit

**4... dxe4 5. a3 Be7 6. Nxe4 Nf6**

### 4. a3 Pawn snatch variation

**4... Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 dxe4 6. Qg4 Nf6 7. Qxg7 Rg8 8. Qh6 Nbd7 9. Ne2 b6 10. Bg5 Qe7**

### 4. exd5 Winawer Exchange

**4...exd5**

The Winawer Exchange Variation is harmless for Black

**5. Bd3 Nc6 6. Nge2 Nge7**

Equal game.

### 4. e5, Main line Winawer

#### 4... c5 (Variation A)

**5. a3**

**5... Bxc3+**

*5... Ba5 has been tried: 6. b4 cxd4 7. Qg4 Ne7 8.
bxa5 dxc3 9. Qxg7 Rg8 10. Qxh7 Nbc6 11. Nf3 Qc7 12. Bf4 Bd7 13.
Bd3*

*Variation*

*with complex play*

**6. bxc3**

**6... Ne7**

7. a4 positional line

**7... Qa5 8. Qd2 Nbc6 9. Nf3 Bd7 10. Be2 Rc8 11.
dxc5 Ng6 12. O-O O-O**

##### 7. Qg4, Winawer 'Poisoned Pawn'

**7... Qc7 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4 10. Ne2
Nbc6**

#### 4... Qd7 (Variation B)

**5. Bd3 b6**

This is a slower way to play but offers fewer chances for Black to win