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Killer French - The Book

GM Simon Williams

Ginger GM Publishing

Published 2016

Ginger GM Publishing 2016. All rights reserved.


For Harry!

Ginger GM Publishing 2016. All rights reserved.


Table of Contents

Introduction ........................................................................................................................... 6
1st Introductory Game: Pert, R - Williams, S...................................................................... 9
2nd Introductory Game: Ljubojevic, L - Gurevich, M ........................................................ 13
Chapter 1: French Advance ................................................................................................ 20
French Advance: Introduction .......................................................................................... 20
1st Introductory Game: Shabalov, A - Shirov, A............................................................... 21
2nd Introductory Game: Grischuk, A - Short, N................................................................ 30
French Advance: Theory A: 5...Bd7 6.Be2....................................................................... 38
French Advance: Theory B: 5...Bd7 6.a3?! ...................................................................... 40
French Advance: Theory C: Early Deviations by White [C02] .......................................... 44
French Advance: Summary ............................................................................................. 47
French Advance: Quiz ..................................................................................................... 48
Chapter 2: French Winawer ................................................................................................ 51
French Winawer: Introduction .......................................................................................... 51
Key Game 1: Hector, J - Berg, E ..................................................................................... 52
Key Game 2: Brendel, O - Jussupow, A ......................................................................... 58
French Winawer: Theory A: 4.Nge2................................................................................. 64
French Winawer: Theory B: 4.exd5 ................................................................................. 68
French Winawer: Theory C: Other Possibilities................................................................ 74
French Winawer: Quiz ..................................................................................................... 77
Chapter 3: French Winawer: 4.e5 Ne7 ................................................................................ 82
Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 82
Key Game 1: Hector, J - Nikolic, P .................................................................................. 84
Key Game 2: Manik, M - Jussupow, A ............................................................................. 91
French Winawer: 4.e5 Ne7: Theory A: 5.Bd2 b6.............................................................. 96
French Winawer: 4.e5 Ne7: Theory B: 5.Qg4 .................................................................. 99
French Winawer: 4.e5 Ne7: Theory C: 5th Move Alternatives for White......................... 104
French Winawer: 4.e5 Ne7: Quiz ................................................................................... 107
Chapter 4: French Winawer: Main Line: White Avoids 7.Qg4 ............................................ 110
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 110
Key Game 1: Briscoe, C - Williams, S............................................................................ 111
Key Game 2: Morozevich, A - Lputian, S ....................................................................... 121
French Winawer: Main Line: White Avoids 7.Qg4: Theory A: 7.Nf3 ............................... 127
French Winawer: Main Line: White Avoids 7.Qg4: Theory B: 7.a4 ................................. 130

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French Winawer Variation: Main Line: White Avoids 7.Qg4: Theory C: 7.h4 .................. 134
French Winawer: Main Line: White Avoids 7.Qg4: Quiz ................................................. 137
Chapter 5: French Winawer: Main Line 7.Qg4................................................................... 140
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 140
Key Game 1: Palkovi, J - Portisch, F ............................................................................. 141
Key Game 2: Calistri, T - Bunzmann, D ......................................................................... 149
French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Theory A: 15.Rg1 .................................................. 154
French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Theory B: 15.Rb1 .................................................. 165
French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Theory C: 13.Ng3 .................................................. 168
French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Theory D: 13.h4 .................................................... 171
French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Theory D: 11.Bf4 ................................................... 174
French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Quiz ...................................................................... 177
Chapter 6: French Tarrasch: Introduction: White Plays f4 ................................................. 182
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 182
Key Game 1: Hansen,V - Bunzmann, D ........................................................................ 185
Key Game 2: Mongontuul, B - Benitah, Y ...................................................................... 188
French Tarrasch: Introduction: White Plays f4: Theory A: 8 a5................................... 194
French Tarrasch: Introduction: White Plays f4: Theory B: 6.Ngf3................................... 199
French Tarrasch: Introduction: White Plays f4: Quiz ...................................................... 202
Chapter 7: French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2 ........................................................... 205
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 205
Key Game 1: Emms, J - Williams, S. ............................................................................. 207
Key Game 2: Persson, A - Berg, E ................................................................................ 220
French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2: Theory A: 11..Qc7 12.Bg5 0-0 13.Bh4 ............ 227
French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2: Theory: 11..Qc7 12.Bg5 0-0 13.Rc1................ 230
French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2: Theory C: 11..Qc7 12.g3................................. 233
French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2: Theory D: Miscellaneous ................................ 235
French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2: Quiz ................................................................ 236
Chapter 8: French Tarrasch: Universal System ................................................................. 240
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 240
Key Game 1: Botta, G - Williams, S ............................................................................... 240
French Tarrasch: Universal System: Theory A: 8...a5 9.a4 ............................................ 248
French Tarrasch: Universal System: Theory B: 8...a5 9.Re1 ......................................... 250
Chapter 9: French Tarrasch: Universal System: Black Fights Back with 7...g5! ................. 253
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 253
Key Game 1: Damaso, R - Agdestein, S........................................................................ 253

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Key Game 2: Fedorchuk, S - Berg, E ............................................................................ 256
French Tarrasch: Universal System: Black Fights Back with 7...g5!: Theory A: 8.h3...... 259
French Tarrasch: Universal System: Black Fights Back with 7...g5!: Theory B: 8.0-0 .... 261
French Tarrasch: Universal System: Black Fights Back with 7...g5!: Quiz ..................... 263
Chapter 10: French Exchange .......................................................................................... 266
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 266
Key Game 1: Tatai, S - Kortschnoj, V ............................................................................ 266
French Exchange: Theory A: 4.Bd3 ............................................................................... 271
French Exchange: Theory B: 4.Nf3................................................................................ 274
French Exchange: Theory C: 4.c4!? .............................................................................. 276
French Exchange: Quiz ................................................................................................. 279
Chapter 11: Kings Indian Attack ....................................................................................... 282
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 282
Key Game: Stripunsky, A - Kaidanov, G ........................................................................ 284
Kings Indian Attack: Theory A: 5...g6!? ......................................................................... 289
Kings Indian Attack: Quiz .............................................................................................. 291
Chapter 12: Early Deviations............................................................................................. 293
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 293
Key Game 1: Schneider, I - Ulibin, M ............................................................................. 293
Early Deviations: Theory A: Wing Gambit ...................................................................... 298
Early Deviations: Theory B: 2.b3 ................................................................................... 302
Early Deviations: Theory C: 3.Be3 ................................................................................. 304
Early Deviations: Quiz ................................................................................................... 307
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 310

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Introduction
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5

This is the basic starting position of the French Defence. It is, at face value, a
defence in the truest sense of the word. By placing the pawn on e6 Black has
not immediately moved to the fourth rank with e5 or c5, but will counter
Whites central advance with d5. Detractors of the French Defence point to the
placing of the pawn on e6 which creates a big pawn on c8. As we will observe,
the French bishop can rise like a phoenix from the flames later in the game and
unleash its latent force. In some of the featured games this in fact proves to be
the pivotal piece in undermining Whites central control.

To merely consider the French as a pure defence however would overlook the
key counter-attacking and even on occasions direct attacking options. As we
will see the light-squared bishop can enter the game at a later stage by moving
onto the a6-f1 diagonal, possibly via d7 and b5 or directly to a6. It can also be
rerouted to the h7-b1 diagonal or h5-d1 diagonal via d7 and e8, then onto g6 or
h5. Should the bishop reach h5 in a favourable situation it can pressure a white
knight on f3 which is a key defender of Whites centre, in particular d4 (and
sometimes e5).

Another key feature of Blacks counter-attacking play will be to pressure Whites


centre with pawn advances to c5 and f6. Just as the sound of trumpets felled the
walls of Jericho, the timely combined counter thrusts of c5 and f6 can totally
undermine Whites centre, and if this happens the remainder of his position so
often crumbles.

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These ideas can be clearly seen if White chooses the Advance Variation by
immediately playing 3.e5.

White clearly gains space from this move and at first sight condemns Blacks
light-squared bishop to a very passive future. The downside of this advance is
that it fixes Whites pawns a little away from his pieces and Blacks key strategy
will be to counter-attack Whites centre, as can be seen in the following
variation:

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nf3 Bd7 6 Be2 Nge7 7 Na3 cxd4 8


cxd4 Nf5

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Blacks counter-attacking strategy is clear here. Both the knights pressure
Whites backward pawn on d4. The queen can now move to b6, further
pressuring this pawn, and the light-squared bishop is eyeing up an advance to
b5, should the opportunity arise. Playing Be7, followed by 0-0, will give the
chance of a timely f6. White will need to use all his resources to support his
centre. This is a key battle in deciding whose position will be preferable.

The ability to use the light-squared bishop when the opportunity arises is
perfectly demonstrated in the following game, that I played a while back now!

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1st Introductory Game: Pert, R - Williams, S
Witley, 1998

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4
8.cxd4 f6
The counter-attack against Whites central pawns has immediately begun.
Black has played both his key advances of c5 and f6.

9 exf6 Nxf6 10 00 Bd6 11 Nf3 Qc7 12 g3 00 13 Bf4

White has blunted Blacks pressure from the queen on c7 and bishop on d6 by
playing g3 and Bf4. This is a sound idea, but weakens the light squares around
Whites king, particularly on the h5-d1 diagonal which Black seizes on by
playing:

13...Bd7!? 14.Rc1 Be8!

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Whites position is ok at the moment as his pieces are well placed in the centre.
The backward pawn on e6 can become a target and it would be premature for
Black to play e5. Whites pieces would be well placed to gain total control of the
centre and Blacks d pawn would also become very weak. White must exercise
caution though, as the Black bishop moving to h5 will create pressure and
threats by undermining Whites central control.

15.Ng5 Qd7 16.Bxd6 Qxd6 17.f4?

This understandable move turns out to be a key error which allows Black to
play Bh5! White needed to play 17.Nf4!, preventing this manoeuvre. Then if
Black had tried 17...Nxd4, White could have used the attractive tactic of 18.Nxh7
Nxh7 19.Bxh7+ Kxh7 and 20.Qxd4 when White would have had a preferable
position due to his centralised pieces and pressure on the e6-pawn.

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17...Bh5! 18.Bb5
Now it is White who is keen to exchange pieces to relieve pressure on the centre
but Black reroutes the knight to f5, which renews the pressure on d4 and also
threatens to move into e3.

18...Ne7

19.Qd3?
White needed to admit his previous inaccuracies by retreating his bishop to d3
and exchanging the Black knight when it moves to f5. Such a concession shows
that Black is already getting on top.

19...Nf5 20.Nf3 Ne4

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Blacks minor pieces are perfectly placed. The light-squared bishop continues
to pressure the White knights on f3 and e2. Although well-defended at the
moment the white pawn on d4 is about to become very vulnerable.

21.Nc3 a6 22.Ba4 Bxf3 23.Rxf3 Qb4!

The pawn on d4 is now attacked and Black threatens Nxc3 followed by Qxa4
winning the bishop. 24.Nxe4 allows 24...dxe4 when the a4 bishop is also lost.
Black now has a winning position and the end quickly follows as like a gambler
reduced to the felt, White tries a last desperate throw of the dice.

24.Bd7 Nxd4 25.Bxe6+ Nxe6 26.Qxd5 Qd4+ 27.Kg2 Qxd5 28.Nxd5


Rfd8 29.Nb6 Rd2+ 30.Kg1 Rad8 31.Re3 R2d4 32.Rce1 N6c5 01
The game showed the key components of Blacks ability to counter-attack using
pressure on the centre combined with activating the light-squared bishop.
Whites apparent central control was rapidly undermined following just one
inaccuracy.

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2nd Introductory Game: Ljubojevic, L - Gurevich, M
Linares 1991
In the second introductory game we will take a look at White's most ambitious
setup, a setup where White tries to suffocate Black with his pawn formation.
This game shows that Black has direct attacking options as opposed to merely
counter-attacking ones. Black must play actively in this line and be prepared to
sacrifice a piece if need be. I like this game as it is a good demonstration of how
Black can play aggressively against White's set up.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4

With this move White aims to keep a pawn on e5, which will give him more
space and a base to launch a possible kingside attack from. White does lag
behind in development though, and Black can often take advantage of this.

5...c5
Again Black can achieve little without playing this move. Black needs to attack
White's pawn formation.

6.c3
White on the other hand must try and guard his formation.

6...Nc6 7.Ndf3
This makes more sense compared to 7.Ngf3 as where does the knight on d2 go
to now? It is basically on a very bad square on d2, hence Ndf3. 7.Ndf3 does lose
time though, White is moving the same piece twice in the opening which is
normally a bad idea.

7...Qb6

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Black increases the pressure on d4. Black's basic plan is to keep up the pressure
on d4 and then play ...f6 at a later point. Hopefully, then after a number of
exchanges on d4 and e5 White's centre will fall apart or his king will come under
pressure. This plan works perfectly in this game and is going to be our main
recommendation; we will look at this later on.

8.h4
White has a number of moves here. 8.h4 aims to gain space on the kingside.
White has also played:
1. 8.a3! This is the trendy move, a3 stops ...Bb4+ and prepares to expand on
the queenside with b4. 8...a5 9.b3 with a complicated game.
2. 8.g3 used to be very popular but Black has found a number of good ways
to play against this, for example 8...cxd4 9.cxd4 Bb4+ This gains a tempo
so it seems like a good plan. 10.Kf2 White is often forced to move his
king about in this variation, which is why Black should aim to open up
the centre as quickly as possible. 10...f6 This chips away at White's centre.
11.Kg2 Moving off the g1a7 diagonal. Now a nice idea is 11...g5!?, a typical
move and very thematic. Black is aiming to destroy White's pawn
formation and potentially expose the position of Whites king.

8...cxd4
Black has to play this move at some point.

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9.cxd4

Lets have a look at what both sides are trying to do here.

White:
1. Will try to get his king safe, then develop his minor pieces.
2. Once White has consolidated he will launch an attack against Black's king.

Black must:
1. try and stop White from finishing his development.
2. attack the centre with ...f6.
3. be willing to sacrifice a piece, this often involves Ndxe5 and then Ncxe5.
Anything to stop White from finishing his development. If White can
finish his development and consolidate his king he will have a large
advantage due to his extra space.

9...Bb4+
This move is very natural, Black develops a piece with check and forces White
to move his king.

10.Kf2
The safest square for White's king is actually g3 but it takes a while to get there...
10.Bd2? allows 10Nxd4, winning a key central pawn.

10...f6!

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It is hard for Black to make any progress without this move. Black now wants to
get his rook on h8 into the game.

11.Kg3
Black was threatening to win a pawn by playing ...fxe5 and ...Ndxe5 as White's d-
pawn was pinned to the king. For that reason White moves his king again, the
problem is that White is losing a lot of time and has only developed his knight
and king!

11...0-0
Black has finished developing as many pieces as possible. It is now time to take
some action.

12.Bd3

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It will take White just one more move, Ne2, to consolidate his position, so it is
time for Black to do something drastic!

12...Nxd4!
This is a typical sacrifice that is well worth remembering. Black often sacrifices
a piece for the d and e-pawns. Black wants to open up the position as White's
king will come under pressure. If it takes a piece to do this, then so be it.

13.Nxd4 fxe5
13...Qxd4?? 14.Bxh7+ Kxh7 15.Qxd4 wins a queen!

14.fxe5 Nxe5

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So Black has destroyed White's centre. This is a position that I would love to get
as Black. Black has a mobile centre and White's king is very exposed, all for the
price of a piece! A worthy investment. Fritz already thinks that Black is winning
and he might be right!

15.Bc2 Ng6
The black knight moves away to make room for Black's d and e-pawns and the
b8-h2 diagonal is also opened up. 15...Nc4 also looked good.

16.Bxg6 hxg6 17.Nde2?


Far too passive but White was in trouble anyway. 17.Ngf3 was more natural but
Black wins his piece back and retains an attack after 17...Bd6+ 18.Kf2 e5 with a
winning position. Black's dark-squared bishop really comes into its own in these
types of positions.

17...Qf2+
The end is near.

18.Kh3
If 18.Kh2 then Black can reply with 18Bd6+, winning on the spot.

18...Bd6
White doesnt have many available moves, whilst Black is preparing ...e5+.

19.Qb3

This tries to defend along the 3rd rank but it is too little, too late. Black can now
checkmate White in two moves, can you find the mate? 19.Nf3 Rxf3+ 20.gxf3
Qxf3+ 21.Ng3 Qxg3# is also mate!

19...e5+?

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This is not as strong as 19...Qf5+ 20 g4 Qf1#. Well done if you found that!

20.Kh2 Qxh4+ 21.Nh3 Bxh3 0-1


White resigned here as 22.Qxh3 will lose to 22...e4+. Black's central pawns
proved to be much more useful than White's extra piece.

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Chapter 1: French Advance

French Advance: Introduction


1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5

The French Advance should be the first line that any aspiring French Defence
player should look at. I think it typifies the French structure. I will try to sum
up what the best plans for both sides are and why:
Whites view:
1. White has a space advantage, that is his main asset.
2. White will often try to use this space advantage to launch a kingside
attack against Black's king.
3. White aims to take advantage of Black's bad light-squared bishop which is
stuck behind the pawn formation.

Blacks view:
1. Black has to attack White's centre, claiming that it is actually a weakness
and not a strength.
2. This is done in two ways: By ...c5 and ...f6.
3. Black really aims to put as much pressure as possible on White's pawn on
d4.
4. Black often aims to swap off his bad light-squared bishop.
5. In general most endgames are at least equal for Black as White's pawns,
mainly d4, are weak in the ending. For this reason Black often aims for
exchanges.

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1st Introductory Game: Shabalov, A - Shirov, A
Edmonton 2005
There are obviously a number of ways that Black can react against the French
Advance variation. I have played the French for over 20 years and in my
opinion the Advance is one of the less worrying lines (I think that 3.Nc3 and
3.Nd2 are better attempts at gaining an advantage).
I am going to recommended two different set ups, one is the classical approach
where Black takes aim at d4. The other approach is a quick ...f6 and then Black
aims to disrupt White's centre immediately.
I have tried to pick games which best demonstrate what Black's most critical and
best plans are. I hope they come in useful!

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3


Maintaining the pawn formation. This is really what the main battle is all about
in the French Advance. Can White hold his centre together? If not, Black will get
a better position.

4...Nc6
Attacking d4.

5.Nf3
Defending d4.

5...Bd7

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I believe that this is a crafty move. I think that this move is better than 5...Qb6,
which is the other main line. My belief is that 5...Qb6 allows 6.a3 and as we will
see in the next game, Black will often want his queen to be on c7 in some
positions. 5...Bd7 is a more flexible move order. Black can decide what plan to
undertake, depending on how White continues.
White now has two main options.

6.Be2
White's other sensible option, 6.a3, will be looked at in the next game.
6.Bd3 is a gambit, but Black is fine after 6...cxd4 7.cxd4 Qb6 8.00 8.Bc2,
defending the d-pawn is not advisable due to 8...Nb4, when at the minimum
Whites best minor piece will be exchanged. 8...Nxd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Nc3 a6
The safest option. Capturing the 2nd pawn on e5 can become dangerous. This
variation will be looked at in more depth later on in this book.

6...Nge7

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Now that White has shown his hand Black can develop accordingly. Against
6.Be2 Black first aims to attack d4 with as many pieces as possible, hence ...Nge7,
when the knight is heading for f5. Basically the first plan here is to put
maximum pressure on d4.

7.Na3
White must act by defending d4. The knight is heading to c2.

7...cxd4

Key Point!
In general this capture should only be made when White has played Na3. The
reason for this is that after ...cxd4 cxd4 White can no longer play Nc3, which is
often a good square for the knight.

8.cxd4 Nf5 9.Nc2


9.g4 often just weakens White on the kingside. This is the case here, Black
should continue 9...Nh4 with a slight advantage.

9...Qb6 10.0-0

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Black has finished stage one of his plan - attack d4 as much as possible. He now
has to decide how to continue. I really like the move that Shirov plays next.

10...Na5!
At first sight this looks very strange, can you see any point behind this manoeuvre?
The knight is not aiming to move to c4 (in some cases it does but that is not the
main point behind ...Na5). The real point behind this move is that Black is
planning to play ...Bb5! The exchange of bishops can only help Black. White's
light-squared bishop can become a very dangerous piece, especially if Black
castles kingside and White places his bishop on the b1h7 diagonal. On the
other hand Black's light-squared bishop is his worse piece, so he goes about
exchanging it off.

11.g4
This move is very committal as it does leave White's king exposed, but g4 does
gain some space. 11.Ne3 is White's other option.

11...Ne7
Black is happy to lose time by retreating as he can now aim to open up the
kingside, especially the h-file.

12.Nfe1
White is dreaming about playing f4-f5 with an attack but this plan takes time.

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12...Bb5!
Black has now achieved stage two of his plan. He will be able to swap off his bad
bishop. All that remains now is to open up White's kingside, keep pressure on
d4 and attack!

13.Nd3

White wants to keep his light-squared bishop on the board but this plan is
rather slow.

13...h5!

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Now that White has played g4, Black goes about opening up the White king.

14.gxh5
White could have also tried:
1. 14.g5? but this is a positional mistake as it gives away control of the f5-
square.
2. Black is also doing well after 14.b4 when he should play 14...Nac6!
keeping up pressure on d4. 15.a4 Bc4!? All of a sudden this bishop has
become a good piece as it is now outside of Black's pawn formation. This
is why Black elects to keep it on the board. 16.a5 Qc7 16...Qd8!? also
deserves consideration. 17.gxh5 Nf5 Black is slightly better.

14...Nf5
The knight returns to the best square. I already prefer Black in this position.
Black has just played natural good moves.

15 Be3 Nc6!

The knight has achieved its aim on a5, as it has let Black's light-squared bishop
out, so it now returns to c6 to attack White's pawn on d4. This move is better
than 15...Nc4, for example 16.a4 Ncxe3 17.fxe3 Bc4 18.Nf4 when White's pawn
on d4 is now well-defended.

16.a4 Bc4
It now makes sense to keep this bishop on the board.

17.b4

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It is now time to try and work out what a good plan for Black is. d4 is well-
defended but White's kingside is weak, so how can we start an attack against
White's king?

17...Qd8!
A good move! The queen is brought around to the kingside where White's king
is exposed.

18.Bg4
It is not clear what White's best plan is. On the other hand, Black's plan is very
clear!

18...Nxe3
Black decides to swap this bishop off so that he can play ...Qg5. The d4-pawn is
of little worth now as White's king is the new target.

19.fxe3 Qg5
Black now has a big advantage.

20.h3 Rxh5 21.Qf3

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White tries to start a counter-attack but Black is perfectly safe.

21...0-0-0!
This move is played quite often in this particular line. It is clear that Black's king
is safer than White's.

22.Qxf7

Black is a lot quicker than Whites counter-attack and Shirov now finishes
things off nicely.

22...Rxh3 23.Qxe6+ Kb8 24.Rxf8 Rg3+

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Not 24...Rxf8?? 25.Qd6+ and all of a sudden White is winning! Shirov does not
fall for these kind of tricks!

25.Kf2 Rxg4 26.Qd6+ Ka8


Black has calculated it to the end. When White's attack stops Black's will come
with force.

27.Rxd8+ Nxd8 28.Qc7 Rg2+ 29.Ke1 Qg3+ 30.Kd1 Qf3+ 0-1

White resigned as it will eventually be mate after 31.Kc1 Rxc2+.

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2nd Introductory Game: Grischuk, A - Short, N
Reykjavik, 2000
In this game we will look at what happens if White plays the main alternative on
move six.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.a3?!

Even though this move is played quite often, I don't believe that it is a good
move. White's problem is that 6.a3 allows Black to immediately attack White's
centre. White is obviously planning to play b4 and if Black plays ...Qb6 then b4
transposes to a main line, but Black has a good move here

6...f6!
As I stated in the introduction to game one, this move combined with ...c5 is
often the best way for Black to attack White's pawn formation. It is even
stronger here as last move White did not develop a piece but played the rather
passive 6.a3.
6...f6! is a good move but some players prefer to keep the position closed. 6...c4
closes the queenside and changes the nature of the game. I used to play like this,
but now I prefer 6...f6!
I will quickly demonstrate one good plan for Black using 6...c4 here:

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7.g3 White aims to develop his bishop to h3 from where it puts pressure on e6
after Black plays ...f6. 7.Be2?! is worse, as the bishop is useless on e2. 7...Na5! This
is a good plan. If White's a-pawn was still on a2 then White would be doing very
well here, but having a pawn on a3 has weakened some light squares on the
queenside, mainly b3. Black is now planning to play ...Bc6, ...Qd7, ...Ba4 and
...Bc2 getting the light-squared bishop back into the game. 8.Nbd2 Guarding
against ...Nb3. 8...Bc6! Aiming to get this bad bishop into the game. 9.h4 Qd7 10
Bh3 Ba4 11.Qe2 Bc2! and Black is better but the game is still pretty drawish.
Black will need to break out with ...f6 at some point in order to win.

7.Bd3

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White has also tried 7.b4, when Black has a very interesting idea. 7...fxe5 7...c4 is
a safer option. 8.b5 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.dxe5 Qc7! is good for Black. 8...Nxd4! Black
gets a monster pawn formation in exchange for his piece. 9.cxd4 exd4 and I
think Black is better.

7...Qc7!
This is one of the reasons why I prefer 5...Bd7 to 5...Qb6. In some cases, such as
this one, Black's queen is better placed on c7 from where it attacks White's e5
pawn. Black's play from this point onwards is pretty simple. Let me give you
some possible ideas that Black should be thinking about:
1. The exchange ...fxe5 dxe5 would fix a pawn on e5, which is a weakness.
2. Black should play 000.
3. Then it is all about attacking e5, this can be done with ...Nh6, ...Nf7, ...h6
...g5, ...Bg7 and ...g4. All in all, I think Black is better here.

8.00 000 9.Qe2

9...h6!?
Black wants to continue g7-g5 with an attack on the kingside.
Another approach is 9...fxe5. I would have been very tempted to have played
this capture. It gives Black a clear-cut plan. 10.dxe5 c4 It is often worth throwing
this move in as it holds up White's counterplay on the queenside. 11.Bc2 and
now Black has two good plans: 11...h6 with similar ideas to the game and 11...Nh6
when Black can consider ...Nf7 followed by ...g6 and ...Bg7 exerting maximum
pressure on e5.

10.b4 c4 11.Bc2

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11...f5!?
An interesting idea. Black figures that as the queenside is quite closed Black can
storm his pawns down the kingside. It is fair to say that Black is the only person
who can win after this move as White has little counterplay.

12.Nh4
White tries to hold things up with f4.

12...Be8

Key Point!
The classic plan! In the French this idea of re-routing the bishop via e8 is very
common. We saw in the last game the light-squared bishop zooming out to
b5, here it plans on moving out to h5 at some point.

13.f4 Be7

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Preparing ...g5.

In this position White gets impatient fearing the worse by playing:

14.Nxf5?!
I can understand why White played this, as things were pretty bad, but this
hastens the end. 14.Nf3 to try and stop ...g5 runs into 14...Bh5 and Black will play
...g5 soon. The best defence may have been 14.Qf2 g5 15.Nf3 Bh5 which still
looks good for Black but he has to break through somehow.

14...exf5 15.Bxf5+ Kb8


The problem that White has is that his e and f-pawns are not very mobile.

16.Qg4?!

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16.Bc2 was a better idea. At least then White can push his g-pawn. 16...g5? 17.f5
and White gets going.

16...g5
This breaks up White's pawns. Black is now doing very well.

17.fxg5 hxg5 18.Bxg5


White has now got three pawns for the piece but his king is very weak on the g
and h-files.

18...Bh5 19.Qg3 Bxg5 20.Qxg5 Nge7 21.Nd2 Rdg8 22.Qe3 Nxf5


23.Rxf5 Qh7
The game is effectively over. White is a piece down facing an attack.

24.Rf6

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24...Be2
This stops White from bringing his other rook to the f-file.

25.h3
25.Qxe2? loses to Qxh2+ 26.Kf1 Qh1+ 27.Kf2 Rxg2+, winning the house.

25...Bd3 26.Kh2 Ne7!


The last black piece joins the attack with devastating effect.

27.Nf3 Nf5 28.Qf4 Ka8 29.Rg1 Qh5 30.e6 Be4 31.Rf1 Rg3 32.Rxf5?
A blunder but the result would have been the same.

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32...Qxh3+ 0-1
After 33.gxh3 Rhxh3 is checkmate.
An interesting game, demonstrating the versatility of the French Defence. The
opening variation would suggest that White, with the extra space, was the side
who was going to attack on the kingside, but Blacks well timed g5 thrust turned
the tables.

Key Point!
Never get bogged down in believing that the classic opening themes must
always be followed. You must always be alive to the possibility of switching
your play - the French Defence presents many such opportunities.

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French Advance: Theory A: 5...Bd7 6.Be2
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Be2
This is superior to 6.a3.

6...Nge7 7.Na3

Key Point!
DO NOT capture on d4 UNTIL white has played Na3. This is because you do
not want to give White the c3 square for his knight.

1. 7. 00 is the main alternative. 7...Nf5 8.Bd3 cxd4 9.Bxf5 exf5 10.cxd4 Be6
11.Nc3 Be7 12.Ne2 g5! is promising for Black.
2. 7.a3 is rare and makes little sense. White wants to transpose to some of
the 6...Qb6 lines. 7...a5!? 8.a4 Nf5 9.00 Qb6 is comfortable for Black.

7...cxd4 8.cxd4 Nf5 9.Nc2 Qb6 10.00


10.h4 f6!? Preparing to sacrifice. 11.g4 Nfxd4! 12.Ncxd4 12.Nfxd4 fxe5 13.Nxc6
Bxc6 14.Rh3 Bc5 with a big Black initiative. 12...Nxe5 13.g5 Bc5 14.00 Nxf3+
15.Nxf3 Qb4! gave Black very good play in Movsesian-Gurevich, Sarajevo,
2000.

10...Na5!

Key Point!
Hopefully you have now picked up the main idea behind this move. Black is
aiming to swap off his worse minor piece, the light-squared bishop, by
playing Bb5.

11.Ne3
11.g4 was looked at in the introductory game. 11.Ne3 can be rather dull but Black
is no worse.

11...Nxe3 12.fxe3 Be7 13.Bd2 Bb5!


With an equal game.

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Black has achieved a very sound opening position. The light-squared bishops
will be exchanged. Following this Black will be able to castle on the kingside,
without fear of the b1-h7 diagonal being used by an attacking White bishop.
Black will seek to compete on the open c-file and perhaps even eye up the
counter attacking ...f6 push.

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French Advance: Theory B: 5...Bd7 6.a3?!
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.a3?!
This variation is ok when Black's queen is on b6, but in this position I believe
that 6.a3 is simply a mistake. The main reason for this is that Black's queen can
move to c7, saving tempo. This is often very strong when combined with ...f6.

6...f6!
Black should have no problems after this move.

7.Bd3
The other main alternative is 7.b4 when play should continue 7fxe5 and now
White has a choice of a number of rather uninspiring options:
1. 8.b5 when it is now best for Black to sacrifice with 8Nxd4! Play could
now continue 9.cxd4 9.Nxe5 Nf5 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Nxg6 Nf6 12.Qh3 Rg8
13.Nxf8 Kxf8 14.Bd3 Ne4!? is wild but completely satisfactory for Black.
9...exd4 10.Bf4 Nf6 11.Nbd2 Be7 Simple development is best! 12.Qb1 00
13.g3 c4 14.Bh3 14.Nxd4 Bc5 followed by ...Qb6 and/or ...Ng4 is too much
pressure for White to deal with. 14...e5!? 15.Bxd7 Nxd7 16.Nxe5 g5!
17.Nxd7 Qxd7 18.Be5 Qe6 Now White is forced to play 19.f4 gxf4 20.gxf4
Rxf4 when the horrible position of Whites king should decide the game
in Blacks favour.
2. 8.dxe5 Qc7 9.Bf4 Nh6!? 10.Bd3 000 11.00 Be7 12.bxc5 Rdf8 13.Bg3
Bxc5 is better for Black.
3. 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.dxe5 Qc7

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Key Point!
A repeating move and theme in this variation, which shows the benefit
of not playing Qb6 too early.

10.Bf4 000 11.Bd3 g5! Whites e-pawn is under serious pressure from
the Qc7 and Bf8-g7 followed by Ng8-e7-g6.
4. 8.dxc5 e4 9.Nd4 Nf6 10.Bf4 Be7 11.Bb5 00 12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.00 Ne8
with a very good position for Black due to his central domination.

7...Qc7!
We can now see why I prefer to keep my queen on d8. c7 is a good square for
the queen in this variation.

8.Bf4
Or:
1. 8.00 000 9.Qe2 h6 10.b4 c4 11.Bc2 was looked at in the introductory
game.
2. 8.exf6 Nxf6 is a good Tarrasch French structure for Black. 9.b4 c4 10.Bc2
Bd6 11.00 00 is better for Black.

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8...000 9.00 c4 10.Bc2 h6!?
This is a similar idea to what we saw in the introductory Short game. Black just
wants to play ...f5 and ...g5 gaining space on the kingside.

11.Bg3
After 11.h4 Black can play the typical plan of 11Be8! when after 12.b3 cxb3
13.Bxb3 Bh5 14.Nbd2 g5! 15.Bg3 f5 16.hxg5 hxg5 Black has a very good position.

11...f5 12.h4

12...Be8!

Key Point!
Rerouting to h5 to place pressure against Whites knight on f3.

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13.Nbd2 Bh5 14.Qb1 Nge7 15.b3 cxb3 16.Bxb3 Na5 17.Rc1 Nxb3
18.Qxb3 Nc6

A dynamic position has been reached, but one where Blacks attacking chances
are greater than Whites. Black will be looking to play Be7 and launch his
kingside pawn assault with g5. Black is also ready to play Na5-c4 to slow down
any chance of a White attack so White must try 19.c4 (best) but 19...Kb8 looks
like a straightforward reply e.g. 20.cxd5 Rxd5 leaving the White pawn on d4
very weak.

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French Advance: Theory C: Early Deviations by White [C02]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7

6.Bd3
White can also try 6.dxc5!? Lets the centre go immediately but White is
planning to place his light-squared bishop on d3, from where it will place
pressure against Black's kingside. 6...Bxc5 7.Bd3 f6! Fighting for the central
squares. 8.Qe2 The most logical way of guarding e5. 8.b4 Bb6 does not really
help White in most cases; the move b4 has actually just weakened the
queenside. 8...fxe5 9 Nxe5 9.b4 e4 10.bxc5 Nf6! 10.00 exd3 12.Qxd3 00 13.c4 e5
14.cxd5 e4 15.Qc2 exf3 16.dxc6 Bxc6 when Black is clearly better. 9...Nxe5 10.Qxe5
Nf6 11.00 00 12.Be3 Bb6! with an equal position, for example 13.Bxb6 Qxb6
14.b3 Ng4 15.Qd4 Qxd4 16.cxd4 Rf4 which gives Black a pleasant advantage due
to his pressure on d4, better development and ability to control the c-file.

6...Qb6 7.0-0

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Or 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.00 a5 Stopping White from kicking Blacks bishop on c5
away with b4. 9.Qe2 Nge7 10.Bf4 Ng6 11.Bg3 00 12.h4 f6 13.Bxg6 hxg6 14.exf6
Rxf6 when Black is doing well.

7...cxd4 8.cxd4 Nxd4

9.Nbd2!?
White has also played:
1. 9.Ng5 Nc6 10.Re1 Bc5 11.Qf3 000! 12.Nc3 (12.Qxf7 Rf8 and 12.Nxf7 Rf8
both win for Black) 12...Nh6 13.Bf4 Nd4 14.Qd1 f6! with a dangerous
Black initiative.

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2. 9.Nxd4 This is the main line, but it fails to impress, for example 9...Qxd4
10.Nc3 a6! 11.Qe2 Qh4 12.f4 Nh6 13.Be3 Rc8 14.Rf3 Bc5 with a slight
advantage to Black, as White has not created a sufficient attack to justify
his sacrificed pawn.

9...Ne7 10.Nxd4 Qxd4 11.Nf3 Qa4! 12.b3 Qa5 13.Bd2 Qd8 14.Ng5!
White has to play aggressively! 14.b4 Ng6 15.g3 Be7 16.h4 f6!

Key Point!
When the knight is on g6 and White plays h4 then f6! is the standard reply.

14...Nc6 15.Re1 Bb4! 16.Qh5


White can try 16.Bxh7?! g6 17.h4 Be7 18.h5 Bxg5 19.hxg6 Bxd2 20.g7 Rg8
21.Bxg8 Bxe1 22.Qh5 Bxf2+ 23.Kf1 Qh4 24.Qxf7+ Kd8, but its good for Black.

16...g6 17.Qe2 Bxd2 18.Qxd2 00

Black has exchanged the dark-squared bishops, which helps him here, Black
does not need to be so concerned about the weaknesses on h6 and f6. Once
again White has failed to justify the sacrifice of a pawn as Black retains a very
solid setup. Blacks plan will be to begin his expansion down the c-file and on
the queenside whilst keeping a mindful eye on any possible thrust by White on
the kingside.

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French Advance: Summary
The Advance Variation appears to be a very natural choice for White, but
provided Black is fully versed with the various strategies of counter attacking
Whites centre at the key moments, it is a variation not to be feared. In many
cases the fixed White pawns on e5 and particularly d4 become the perfect
targets for Black. White will often take up too much time defending them and
inevitably is unable to use his initial space advantage to launch an effective
kingside attack.
That said, Black must be careful not to close the position quickly as White will
no longer have to fear for his centre and will be able to use his extra space to
great advantage.

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French Advance: Quiz
1. Q. White has just played Na3. What is Blacks most accurate move?

A. 1...cxd4 is Blacks best move, fixing Whites pawn on d4, which will
become a target for attack.
Blacks timing, waiting for Na3, means Nc3 is not immediately possible.
2. Q. This position allows Black to activate which piece? What is the best
move?

A. 1...Bb5! forces the exchange of Blacks French Bishop for the far
superior White one.

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3. Q. Black often develops with Qb6 to aid in pressuring the White centre
and in particular the pawn on d4. What is a superior move in this
position?

A. 1...Qc7! Black focuses attention on the advanced e5 pawn which will


come under increasing pressure as Black can continue with moves such
as ...Nh6 and ...Nf7.

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4. Q. Although White has given up a piece his strong pawns threaten to
overwhelm Black. How can Black immediately strike out?

A. 1...g5 is a key move which breaks up Whites pawns and threatens to


open up the kingside exposing Whites king.
5. Q. White has chosen a relatively unthreatening side line by quickly
capturing on c5. What thematic move increases the pressure on Whites
centre?

A. 1...f6 is not the only move but it is my favourite as it will guarantee


Black a central pawn majority.

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Chapter 2: French Winawer

French Winawer: Introduction


1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4

By playing 3...Bb4 Black enters into the starting point of the Winawer variation.
It should be noted that should Black wish to avoid this entire variation he may
do so by playing 3...Nf6. This is not the recommendation suggested here but is
of course entirely playable.
3.Nc3 protects the pawn on e4 and allows white to make a delayed decision
when and if at all the pawn advances to e5.
I believe that in order to challenge the Winawer variation White will need to
commit to playing e5 and indeed play this move immediately, but before we
look deeply into this move and the theory it will be helpful to consider other
options for White on move 4 so that we can see why these can be readily dealt
with by Black.

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Key Game 1: Hector, J - Berg, E
Malmo 2005

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nge2 Nc6!?

The Swedish GM Emanuel Berg can be regarded as the World's leading expert
on the 4.Nge2 variation, as he plays it as White and faces it as Black. It is
therefore noteworthy that he chooses 4...Nc6.

5.a3 Ba5 6.e5


After 6.Be3 Nge7 Nigel Short won in convincing style as Black against Berg.
This and other undated game references that follow are to games that can be
found in the ChessPub database.

6...Nge7
More sensible than 6...f6?! when after 7.Nf4! White should have won in Hector-
Olsson.

7.b4 Bb6 8.Na4 00 9.c3

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This is the latest attempt by the ever inventive Jonny Hector to upset Berg in
this variation.
Previously 9.Rb1!? worked out well for him after 9...Nf5 Here I believe the only
critical move is 9...f6 which may be why Hector has given up on 9.Rb1. 10.Nxb6
axb6 11.b5! Na5 12.Ng3 and White won.
Less successful for White was another Hector try: 9.b5?! which led to a win for
Black after 9...Ba5+! 10.c3 Nb8.

9...f6!
As c7-c5 looks forever ruled out, Black switches to Plan B in the French: attack
e5 with f7-f6.

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10.f4
Rather than eliminate the black bishop with Nxb6, in the style of his win with
9.Rb1 mentioned in the previous note, Hector intends to leave the bishop alone
and reroute his knight to the centre via b2. He hopes that the bishop will remain
incapacitated on b6 whilst a pawn storm engulfs Black on the kingside. For this
strategy to work, the white pawn centre has to stand firm and resist any
pressure that Black puts upon it. Berg manages to refute his opponent's strategy
with the time honoured device of a piece sacrifice.

10...Bd7 11.h4
More pawns join the fray, but if White loses control his king will no longer be
able to find refuge on either wing.

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11...Qe8!
The queen vacates the d8 square to allow the knight to manoeuvre to f7 via d8,
which in turn frees the light square bishop to become active on b5.

12.h5 Nd8!

13.Nb2 Nf7 14.g4 fxe5 15.fxe5 a5 16.Bf4 Bb5 17.Rg1 Nc6 18.Rg2
The crucial moment. Can White be made to pay for sparing the life of the
bishop on b6?

18...Nfxe5!!

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Black accepts a cramped position in the French precisely so that explosive
breakouts of this nature become possible.

19.Bxe5
Hopeless is 19.dxe5 Bxe2 20.Bxe2 Rxf4, when Black gets his piece back.

19...Nxe5 20.dxe5 Rxf1+! 21.Kxf1 Qf7+ 22.Ke1 Qf3!


This quiet move asks for the rook back, and White can't refuse.

23.c4
After 23.Rh2 Be3! cutting off the white king's escape route to d2, there is no
good defence to 24...Rf8 and 25...Qf1 mate.

23...Qxg2 24.c5
Again if 24.cxb5 Be3 is a deadly reply.

24...Rf8 25.Kd2 Rf2!


Not 25...Bxe2 26.Qg1! defending.

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26.Nd3 Bxd3 27.Kxd3 Qf3+ 28.Kd2 d4! 0-1
The threat is 29...Qc3 mate, to say nothing of 29...Qe3+ 30.Kc2 Rxe2+.
Therefore Hector had no choice but to resign. A beautiful attacking finish from
the young Swedish GM.

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Key Game 2: Brendel, O - Jussupow, A
Stockholm 2002

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3


Even though the line in this game is normally reached through the Winawer
move order, don't forget that when you check it up in the roadmap it is
classified as a French Exchange with the code C01: 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nc3 Bb4 etc.

3...Bb4 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bd3

5...Nc6!?
I always answer this variation in this manner. The knight puts the pawn on d4
under pressure and White already has a decision to make.

6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3

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Strategically White is doing badly due to his doubled c-pawns but he has the
two bishops and a bit of pressure against Black's kingside.

7...Nge7 8.Qh5! Be6 9.Nf3 Qd7 10.Ng5

10...0-0-0!
Previously I gave this variation as promising for White, but it seems that Black
can escape from the positional pressure in tactical style.

11.0-0
Not 11.Nxf7? Qe8 winning a piece, but White might have considered 11.Nxe6
Qxe6+ 12.Be3!? With approximate equality.

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11...Bg4!
Here is what could happen to Black if he plays passively and gives White time to
build up his game by utilising the two bishops: 11...h6 12.Nxe6 Qxe6 13.Bd2 g6
14.Qf3 f5 15.Rfe1 Qf7 16.Re2 g5 17.Rae1 Rd6 18.Re3 Rhd8 19.a4! The only passive
White piece is the bishop on d2. Once this is brought into play on a3 Black's
position will collapse. 19...Kb8 20.Qe2 Nc8 21.Bc1! Nb6 22.Ba3 Rf6 23.Be7 Nxe7
24.Rxe7 Qf8 25.Qe5 Rc6 26.Re8 Qd6 27.Bb5 Nc4 If 27...Rxc3 28.Qxd6 cxd6
29.Rxd8+ wins. 28.Qh8 10 Lau, R - Tibensky ,R, Austria, 1997.

12.Qxf7 h6
The usual move order is 12...Rdf8 13.Qxg7 h6 14.f3 which is the way the Miles
and Mueller games of the next note started. Brendel decides to avoid
transposing to these games by sacrificing his queen.

13.f3 Rdf8

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14.fxg4?!
Very enterprising but unfortunately it doesn't seem sufficient.
After 14.Qxg7 the key move is the as yet untested 14...Bf5! as retreating the
bishop to h5 has led to disaster for Black:
14...Bh5? 15.Nh7! Rfg8 16.Qxh6 Bg6 17.Bxg6 Nxg6 Also inadequate for Black is
17...Rxg6 18.Nf8! Rgxh6 19.Nxd7 Rxh2 20.Nc5 Nf5 21.Bf4 R2h4 22.g4 as in Miles, A -
Nogueiras, J, Cienfuegos 1997. 18.Nf6 Qd6 19.Nxg8! Rxh6 20.Nxh6 and White
had a decisive material advantage in Mueller, K - Krause, U, Altenkirchen 1999.
After 14.Qxg7 Bf5 15.Nf7 the following line of play was recommended in
ChessBase Magazine: 15...Rhg8 16.Ne5 Rxg7 17.Nxd7 Rfg8! 17...Kxd7? 18.Bxh6
winning material. 18.Bxf5 Rxg2+ 19.Kh1 Nxf5 20.Nf6 R8g7 21.Nxd5 Rxc2 with
an unclear position according to Knaak. The fact that Yusupov was willing to go
into this line suggests that Black is at least equal!

14...Rxf7 15.Nxf7 Re8 16.g5 hxg5 17.Bxg5 Kb8 18.Rab1 Ka8 19.Rbe1

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White has a rook and bishop and pawn for the queen and at the moment Black's
pieces are tied down.
Perhaps here White should have played the quiet 19.Kh1 rather than trying to
force matters by creating a passed pawn.

19...a6 20.Ne5 Nxe5

21.dxe5
Ineffective for White is 21.Rxe5 Nc6 22.Bf5 Qf7 23.Bd3 Not 23.Be6? Qxf1+!
24.Kxf1 Nxe5 25.dxe5 Rxe6 with a trivially winning endgame for Black. 23...Qg8
Better than 23...Nxe5 24.Rxf7 Nxf7 25.Bg6 Rf8 26.Be7 etc.

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21...Qc6! 22.Re3
If 22.e6 Qxc3 looks at least equal for Black: the attack on e1 is annoying as it
prevents Rf7.

22...Qc5 23.Kh1 Qxa3 24.h4

Black's queenside pawn advances prove more powerful than any counterplay
White can generate on the kingside.

24...a5 25.e6 a4 26.Ree1 Qc5 27.Ra1 b5 28.Be3 Qxe3 29.Bxb5 c6


30.Rfb1 cxb5 31.Rxb5 Nc6 32.Rxa4+ Na7 33.Rba5 Rxe6 01

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French Winawer: Theory A: 4.Nge2
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nge2 Nc6 5.a3
It makes sense to immediately put Black's bishop on b4 under attack.

5...Ba5
Again it is logical to keep the pin up.

6.Be3
I would consider this the main line as it keeps the tension in the centre. The
other main possibilities are:
1. 6.b4 Bb6 7.Na4!? 7.Bb2 Nge7 8.e5 00 9.Na4 f6! breaking effectively.
7...dxe4 8.Bb2 Nf6 9.c4 a6 10.g3 00 11.Bg2 Ba7 12.00 Qe7 13.Ra2 Rd8
is good for Black, who has strong pressure against the d4-pawn, Guseinov,
G - Bauer, C, European Team Championships 2007.
2. 6.e5 which closes the centre. Black should now aim to play ...f6 at some
point but probably only when he has developed his kingside knight.
6...Nge7! I prefer this to 6...f6 which weakens the light squares and gives
White the chance to play 7.Nf4! 7.b4 Bb6 8.Na4 00.

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This is a standard position. White can now try:
2.1. 9.c3 which was looked at in the introductory game. Which for
your memory continued 9...f6! 10.f4 Bd7 11.h4!? Qe8! 12.h5 Nd8
13.Nb2 Nf7 14.g4 fxe5 15.fxe5 a5 16.Bf4 Bb5 17.Rg1 Nc6 18.Rg2
Nfxe5!! with a huge attack.
2.2. 9.b5?! releases Black's dark-squared bishop and weakens
White's queenside pawn structure, for example 9...Ba5+! 10.c3 Nb8
11.Rb1.
2.3. 9.Rb1 f6! Black must play this thematic move in order to break
up White's central pawn formation. 10.exf6 and now both
recaptures on f6 look ok for Black but lets stick with 10...gxf6
which is positionally desirable. Black will continue with ...e5 at
some point with a double edged game, for example 11.Ng3 e5!
12.dxe5 fxe5 13.Nxb6 axb6 14.Bd3 e4 when Black's activity should
compensate for the bishop pair.

6.Be3 Nge7!?
I like this solid move. Again Black is waiting for White to play e5 when he can
answer with ...Nf5 and then a later ...f6. The problem with 6...Nf6 is that White
can play 7.e5 with tempo, for example 7...Ng4 8.Nf4! and White has some
initiative on the kingside.

7.e5
Otherwise Black will play ...dxe4 and ...Nd5/f5. Alternatives are:
1. 7.Qd3!? 00 8.000 Rb8! 9.e5 b5 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bh4 b4 which is better
for Black.
2. 7.Ng3 dxe4 8.Ngxe4 Nf5 with rough equality.

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3. 7.b4 Bb6 8.Na4!? White is trying to squeeze out Black's bishop on b6.
8...dxe4 9.c4 a6 which has an unclear look to the position but is worth
playing.

7...0-0
7...Nf5 is another line, but I am going to recommend a line that Short plays.
Black wants to play a quick ...f6 - a standard move for this variation.

8.Ng3 f6!

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Key Point!
Always remember the f6 idea.

9.f4
9.exf6!? This looks like a more dangerous try for White, for example 9...Rxf6
9...gxf6?! 10.Bd3 e5 11.dxe5 fxe5 12.Qh5 Rf7 13.b4 Bb6 14.Bxb6 axb6 15.b5 is good for
White. 10.Bd3 Qe8 with a complicated game.

9...fxe5 10.fxe5 Bd7

Black has finished his development and the position is roughly equal, lets have
a look at a couple more moves to see what happened. We are following Berg, E -
Short, N, Malmo 2002.

11.Qg4!

Key Point!
11.Bd3 allows the Be8-g6 manoeuvre.

11...Nf5! 12.Nxf5 exf5 13.Qf3 Be6


which left Black with a promising game.

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French Winawer: Theory B: 4.exd5
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.exd5

This rather boring line should not be of any danger to Black.

4...exd5 5.Bd3 Nc6


This natural move cannot be bad. Black just wants to continuing developing.

6.a3

This is the only way that White can try to get anything from the opening.

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6.Nge2 can often lead to a similar sort of thing, for example 6...Nge7 7.00
Bg4!? Cheparinov has played this. Now 8.Be3 Bxc3 To double White's pawns.
9.bxc3 Na5!

Key Point!
The knight will find a home on c4 which gives Black an advantage.

6...Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Nge7

The main idea behind this simple developing move is to play ...Bf5 at some
point swapping off White's active bishop.

8.Qh5
The most aggressive square for the queen. Alternatives:
1. 8.Qf3 White is trying to keep control of the f5 square to stop Black from
simplifying the position with ...Bf5. 8...Be6 and now:
1.1. 9.Rb1 b6! 10.Ne2 Qd7 11.Nf4 Bf5 12.00 00 and Black is fine. 12...0
00?! is too risky: 13.Ba6+ Kb8 14.Nd3 and White is in control.
1.2. 9.Ne2 Qd7 10.00 00 It is worth waiting to play ...Bf5 until White
has committed his knight on e2. Normally the knight would be better on
g3. 10...Bf5 11.Ng3 Bg6 12.h4! looks a bit better for White. 11.Nf4?! The
wrong square for the knight. 11.Ng3 Bg4 12.Qf4 Ng6 13.Qg5 h6 14.Qd2 Nce7
[But not 14...Rfe8 15.f4! and Black is in trouble] is roughly equal. 11...Bf5
and Black is fine..
2. 8.Nf3?! is walking into Black hands, for example 8...Bf5 8...Bg4!? is
another possibility. 9.Nh4 Bxd3 10.cxd3 00 11.00 Ng6 12.Nf5 Re8
again with rough equality.

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8...Be6 9.Nf3
Or:
1. 9.Ne2 Miles, A - Korchnoi, V, Buenos Aires 1979. 9...Qd7 The standard
plan. Black is being flexible about whether he is going to castle kingside
or queenside. 10.00 h6 Taking some squares away from the White
queen. 11.Re1 Bg4 12.Qh4 000 with a double-edged game where
Black's chances should be no worse.
2. 9.Rb1 b6 Glek, I -Djurhuus, R, Copenhagen 1996 was a good example of
how Black should play this variation. 10.Nf3 Qd7 11.Ng5 000 12.Nxe6
Qxe6+ 13.Be3 g6 14.Qf3 Nf5! 15.00 Nxe3 16.Rfe1! Qd6 17.fxe3 f5 and
Black has solved his opening problems.

9...Qd7 10.Ng5

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10...000!
I believe that because of this move Black has equality. Other moves could leave
Black in trouble.

11.0-0
Instead:
1. 11.Nxf7? g6 12.Qf3 Rdf8 wins a piece.
2. 11.Nxe6 Qxe6+ Black's knights are actually not bad here. 12.Be3 g6 13.Qf3
Nf5! And Black is not worse.

11...Bg4!

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Key Point!
Black must play actively. Passive defence will leave him worse.

12.Qxf7 Rdf8
12...h6 first is also possible but it does give White some other options.

13.Qxg7 h6 14.f3 Bf5!


Black is meant to be fine in this variation, for example:

15.Nf7 Rhg8 16.Ne5 Rxg7 17.Nxd7 Rfg8 18.Bxf5 Rxg2+ 19.Kh1 Nxf5
20.Nf6 R8g7 21.Nxd5 Rxc2

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The position is still quite murky but Black has the initiative.

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French Winawer: Theory C: Other Possibilities
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd2!?

This little move has been tried out by Ivanchuk. White wants to allow Black to
part with his dark-squared bishop but he is not obliged to.
Other options on move 4 for White are:
1. 4.a3 forces the issue: 4...Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 Ne7!? This would avoid White's
preparation as the main move is capturing on e4 which is also fine, but
why make life easy for your opponent? Now:
1.1. 6.e5 c5 reaches the main line.
1.2. 6.Bd3 c5 is perfectly acceptable for Black.
1.3. 6.Nf3 is enterprising but equal, for example 6...dxe4 7.Ng5
Nbc6 8.Bc4 Nf5 9.Nxe4 Nd6 and Black is solid.
1.4. 6.Qg4 00 7.e5 and now rather than playing 7...c5 which would
not be in the scope of this book. I would recommend playing
7...Nd7!? with the idea of playing ...f5 next.
2. 4.Qg4 This suspicious little move used to be popular but it should not be
that scary if Black knows what to do. 4...Nf6! 5.Qxg7 Rg8 6.Qh6 Rg6 Safe
and good. 7.Qe3 c5 Black has very good pressure against White's centre
and he is at least equal, for example 8.Bd2 Qb6 9.Nf3 cxd4 10.Nxd4 e5!
and White is in all sorts of trouble.
3. 4.Bd3 is another harmless move, for example 4...dxe4 5.Bxe4 Nf6 which
is simple and good: 6.Bf3 c5!=.

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Key Point!
c5 is a typical push once black has captured on e4.

4. 4.Qd3 Nc6!? This move again. The queen looks stupid on d3. 5.e5 f6! 6.a3
Ba5!? 7.b4 Bb6 8.Nf3 fxe5 9.dxe5 Nge7 and Black's position is very
pleasant.

4...Nc6!?

In the interest of keeping things simple I am going to suggest this move. This is
what we play against 4.Nge2 and it also looks ok here. The following line is a
good example of what Black can achieve:

5.Qg4
5.a3 Be7!? keeps the bishop and is perfectly playable for Black.

5...Nf6 6.Qxg7 Rg8 7.Qh6 Rg6 8.Qe3 Ng4 9.Qd3 dxe4 10.Nxe4 Bxd2+
11.Nxd2 Qxd4

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Blacks activity should compensate for his slightly worse structure.

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French Winawer: Quiz
1. Q. It may seem like repetition but this question is key to so many French
positions. Black could easily suffer from an eternally cramped position
unless he acts fast. What should he play?

A. 1...f6 is critical. In this position ...c5 will not be possible so the f6 break
is vital.

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2. Q. A key point in this game and an opportunity which Black must seize.
Which aggressive choice will lead to an advantage for Black?

A. 1...Nfxe5!! is Blacks dramatic breakout. The whole nature of the


position changes. Whites failure to move the king from the centre is
ruthlessly exploited.

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3. Q. Whites opening appears to have been successful as his centre is not
under fire and he has kingside control. With this in mind how should
Black proceed?

A. 1...0-0-0 is the best move. Black effectively turns the tables on white
by removing his king from the centre to the queenside in order to
prepare for a kingside assault.

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4. Q. Whites choice of a3 in this position forces Black into a decision
regarding his dark-squared bishop. Should this be retreated or should
the knight on c3 be captured?

A. 1...Bxc3+ is best. This does allow White to reinforce control of the d4


pawn but it breaks up his structure and creates weaknesses, particularly
on c4, which Black can aim to exploit later in the game.

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5. Q. Early queen moves are often frowned upon but it never pays to be
disrespectful of the opponents moves and accurate responses are always
called for. How should Black meet the threat to g7?

A. Allow White to capture the pawn with 1...Nf6. After 2.Qxg7 Rg8 3.Qh6
Rg6 Black will be able to capture on e4 when Whites queen moves
merely leave him well behind in development.

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Chapter 3: French Winawer: 4.e5 Ne7

Introduction
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5
We looked at White's other possibilities on move 4 in the previous chapter. 4.e5
is the most logical continuation and in my opinion the only way that White can
aim to gain an advantage.
White gains some space in the centre and on the kingside. The pawn on e5 can
become a real pain for Black. Black must react by trying to pressurize the base
of White's pawn structure - the pawn on d4 - and in some cases Black should
also aim to exchange off the light-squared bishops. White's light-squared bishop
is his most dangerous piece as White often needs this to start an attack on the
black king. This is especially true when Black has castled.

4...Ne7
I am going to recommend this move order. 4...c5 is also playable but with
4...Ne7 Black develops his last kingside piece. This move is also designed to
meet an early Qg4 by white as black can now either defend the kingside with 0
0 or sacrifice the g7 pawn without losing the rook on h8.

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5.Bd2
Is one of the alternatives to the main theoretical move 5.a3 that White has here.
This avoids the doubling of the c-pawns and White aims to meet ...c5 with Nb5.
Other options include:
1. 5.Qg4 is an aggressive move. The queen aims to cause some chaos down
on the kingside. Black should react in strength by playing 5...c5! with
complications. We will look at the result of these in the theory section.
2. 5.Bd3?! is a rather dubious move but it has been tried. Black should react
in standard fashion and attack White's pawn on d4.
3. 5.Nf3 will normally transpose into the next chapter after 5...c5 6.a3. Here
6.dxc5!? is a unique try that will be looked at in this chapter.
After 5.Bd2 b6! is a good idea. This avoids the main line after ...c5. White would
probably be well-prepared for that move. The main aim of ...b6 is to play ...Ba6
and swap off the light-squared bishops. After Black has swapped off these pieces
he can then play ...c5 gaining counterplay in the centre.

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Key Game 1: Hector, J - Nikolic, P
Reykjavik, 1996

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.Bd2 b6

6.Bb5!?
This idea must be fairly popular, since it is familiar to me even though these
positions are not. White intends Nce2 and c3, when the bishop will re-enter the
fray on c2. This seems very elaborate, and Nikolic appears to have a
neutralizing method to hand.

6...c6 7.Ba4

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7...Bd7
7...Ba6 seems tempting but does nothing to hinder White's basic plan. Nikolic's
method looks very solid and sensible.

8.a3?!
8.Nce2 Bxd2+ 9.Qxd2 c5 allows Black to reach a very sound position, but has
the advantage of allowing White to do the same. As always, Hector aims for
more, with the usual risks involved.

8...Bxc3 9.Bxc3 c5 10.Bb3 Bb5

Black's light-squared bishop is superior to White's. Now this is a natural and

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effective outpost, as White can hardly block the diagonal and monitor pressure
on d4. White's bishops make a particularly awkward picture.

11.f4?!
This exposes White further, but he will have to worry about his e5-pawn as soon
as pressure on the d-pawn increases. It would be nice to find something else
here, but good advice is hard to find. Black's idea is clear, gang up on d4. White
must try to keep his centre intact and find a place for his king.

11...Nbc6 12.Nf3 Nf5 13.Qd2

13Nh4!
One of those simple, effective moves - Black removes the sturdiest defender
and leaves White with his handicapped bishop pair.

14.Nxh4 Qxh4+ 15.g3 Qh5

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16.Kf2
Black was threatening to take on d4 and 16.Qd1 Qf5 is no improvement.

16...Rc8! 17.Rae1
Both 17.a4 Ba6 18.a5 cxd4 19.Bxd4 Nxa5 and 19...Nxd4 20.Qxd4 Qe2+ 21.Kg1 0-
0 leave White grovelling.

17...0-0 18.Qd1
18.Kg2 looks a bit safer. Black has several ways to step up the pressure. First, he
can try exchanging on d4 followed by ...Bc4, or first doubling rooks on the c-
file.

18...Qh3 19.Re3

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19...h5
Black of course prevents g4. Hector has had enough of this suffering and tries
shedding pawns to open lines on the kingside.

20.Rg1!?
A very clever attempt to generate counterplay. My basic feeling is that this
really cannot work, but it does create some chaos.

20...cxd4!
Black improves his position before cashing in. If 20...Qxh2+ 21.Rg2 Qh3 22.g4
22.dxc5 bxc5 23.g4 Qh4+ 24.Kg1 and suddenly White's bishop can drop back to e1
and some counterplay has been generated. 22...Qh4+ is still good for Black, but
murky.

21.Bxd4 Nxd4 22.Qxd4 Bc4 23.Qd1


23.Bxc4 Rxc4 followed by doubling on the c-file and taking on h2 leaves white
without a ghost of a threat.

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23...Bxb3 24.Rxb3 Qxh2+ 25.Rg2 Qh3 26.g4 Qh4+ 27.Kg1 Rc4!
28.Rbg3 Rfc8
Hector has conjured up a few ghosts, but Nikolic has no fear of phantoms.
28...Rxf4 29.gxh5 Kh8 was a serious alternative, and perhaps simpler, since the
weakness of f7 creates some counter-chances for White.

29.gxh5?
29.c3 was more tenacious.

29...Qxf4 30.Rxg7+ Kh8 31.Kh1


31.Qd3 Qc1+ forces 32.Qf1 and a quick loss for White.

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31...Rxc2! 0-1
Now 32.Rxc2 Rxc2 33.Qxc2 Kxg7 34.Qc7 Qh4+ wins easily enough.

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Key Game 2: Manik, M - Jussupow, A
Warsaw, 2005

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.Qg4!?

White immediately puts pressure on Black's kingside but this approach is very
risky as White has not consolidated his centre yet. In these types of positions
White normally has forced ...Bxc3 bxc3. The pawn on c3 does reinforce the d4-
pawn.

5...c5!
The best approach. Black starts counterplay immediately.

6.Qxg7?!

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White continues with his plan but this is a bit dubious. It is better to play 6.Nf3
first, which gives a bit of support to the d4-pawn. 6.a3 and any other options
will be analysed in the theory section.

6...Rg8 7.Qxh7 cxd4


Black is already doing well. White has a number of problems in the centre and
his attack is lacking on the kingside. White was relying on his next move to save
his position but it falls short.

8.a3
Hoping for 8...Bxc3 but:

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8...Qa5!
This move wins material.

9.Nf3?
Losing without a fight. White had to try 9.axb4! which at least muddies the
waters, for example 9...Qxa1 10.Nce2 Nbc6 11.Nf3 Bd7 12.h4. The position is a
mess but I would prefer to be Black, who has decent chances on the queenside.
9.Rb1? does not save the rook: 9...dxc3 10.axb4 Qa2!+.

9...dxc3 10.b3 Nbc6 11.Ng5

11...Nxe5!

Key Point!
You often have to fight fire with fire in the French. Passive moves or defence
can often lead to your downfall. So don't be afraid to enter some
complications!

12.f4 Rxg5!
This move was obviously not forced but Black wants to finish the game in style.
Black is winning due to his material advantage, central pawn mass and the
weakness of White's king and dark squares, e3 for example.

13.fxg5 Bd6 14.Be2

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14...b6
Getting ready to develop the last piece.

15.00 Qc5+ 16.Kh1 Bb7 17.b4 Qc6 18.Bf4 000 19.Bxe5 Bxe5
20.Qxf7

20...Qd6
20...d4!? 21.Bf3 Nd5 22.g6 Rd7 23.Qf8+ Kc7 was an interesting alternative.

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21.Bg4 Kb8 22.Qxe6 Bxh2 23.Qxd6+ Bxd6 24.Rf6 d4 25.g6 Be5
26.Re6 Nxg6 27.Rxg6 d3 28.Rh6 dxc2 01

White resigned, as after 29.Rc1 Be4 he is unable to prevent Black playing Bf4,
forcing White to give up his rook for the c2-pawn, when Black will be a bishop
up and ready to advance the c3-pawn closer to promotion.

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French Winawer: 4.e5 Ne7: Theory A: 5.Bd2 b6
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.Bd2 b6!?

Getting White out of his comfort zone and preparing to play ...Ba6 swapping off
White's strong light-squared bishop. This can be quite a positional variation.

Key Point!
It is worth noting that in this line it is often best for Black to play ...Bxc3
before ...Ba6 as Nb5 can be an annoying answer to an immediate...Ba6.

6.Qg4!
1. 6.f4?! is a typical mistake. This may look aggressive but it actually creates
more weaknesses, in particular on e3. Black also has a nice outpost for his
knight on f5. 6...Bxc3!? Simple and good. Note it is worth watching out
for 6...Ba6 7.Nb5! which could give White some pressure. 7.Bxc3 Ba6
Black already has a comfortable position.
2. 6.a3?! also seems slightly obliging. Black was going to capture on c3
anyway. 6...Bxc3 7.Bxc3 7.bxc3? Ba6! 8.Qg4 Bxf1 9.Kxf1 Nf5 and Black is
already better. 7...Ba6 The standard plan to rid White of his good bishop.
8.Bxa6 Nxa6 9.Qd3 Nb8 10.h4 h5! and here I prefer Black.
3. 6.Nb5!? Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 Nf5 8.Nf3 Ba6 9.g4 Ne7 10.Qc3!? Trying to make
sense of the knight on b5. 10...Bxb5 11.Bxb5+ c6 12.Be2 Nd7 should be ok
for Black, who has retained the flexibility of both his pawn break options.
4. 6.Nce2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 Ba6 8.Nf3 c5 9.c3 Qd7!?. I have played this idea
myself when the queen can come over to the queenside.
5. 6.Nf3 is the most common approach. 6...Bxc3! Once again remember to
capture on c3 before playing Ba6 - 6...Ba6?! 7.Nb5!. 7.Bxc3 Ba6 8.Bxa6
Nxa6 9.h4 c5 and Black has active play.

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60-0
This looks risky but Black should be ok if he can swap off his light-squared
bishop.

7.h4!?
1. 7.Nf3 does nothing to impede Black's plan. Ba6! 8.Bxa6 Nxa6 9.00
Bxc3! 10.Bxc3 c5 and again Black has active play.
2. Similarly 7.Bd3?! is answered by Ba6.

7...c5! 8.Nf3 Nbc6 9.Bd3

9...f5! 10.exf6

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10.Qg3 allows Nxd4, which just nets a pawn.

10...Rxf6 11.Qh5 g6 12.Qg4 Rxf3! 13.Qxf3 c4! 14.Bf1 Nf5


14...Nxd4? 15.Qf6! is dangerous. Black will probably have to trade queens as
15...Nxc2 16.Kd1 Nxa1 17.Bh6 mates or wins the queen.

15.Ne2 Ncxd4 16.Nxd4 Bxd2+ 17.Kxd2+ Nxd4 18.Qf4 Nc6

Blacks extra pawn, strong centre and potentially active minor pieces
compensate him for the exchange. Id take Black here.

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French Winawer: 4.e5 Ne7: Theory B: 5.Qg4
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.Qg4

5...c5! 6.Nf3
I would consider this the main line. White tries to hold the d4-square and
develop a piece.
1. 6.Qxg7?! Rg8 7.Qxh7 cxd4 8.a3 Qa5! as in the introductory game.
2. 6.a3?! is a mistake here. Black if he so wishes can re-enter the main line
with 6...Bxc3+ but there is a much stronger move in 6...Qa5! which leaves
White in trouble. For example 7.Bd2 cxd4 8.axb4 8.Nb1 Bxd2+ 9.Nxd2
Ng6 is just a safe extra pawn for Black. 8...Qxa1+ 9.Nd1 00! leaves Black
in charge. Or 7.axb4? Qxa1 8.Kd1 cxd4! as played by Korchnoi when
9.Nb5 00 10.Nc7 Na6 11.Nxa8 Bd7 is a bit messy but Black has the
initiative: 12.b5 12.Bxa6? Qxa6 13.Nc7 Qf1+ 14.Kd2 Rc8+. 12...Nb4 13.Nc7
Qb1!+.
3. 6.dxc5 used to be fairly popular and it can become very complicated but
Black is doing well after 6...Nbc6.

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7.Bd2
7.Qxg7 Rg8 8.Qxh7 d4 9.a3 Qa5 10.Rb1 Bxc5!? [10...dxc3 11.Be3 cxb2+
12.axb4 Qxb4+ 13.Bd2 Qxc5 14.f4 Qa3 is unclear.] 11.b4 Nxb4! 12.axb4 Bxb4
13.Nge2 dxc3 is just the type of mess Black should be happy with.
7...0-0
Black finishes his development before deciding what to do in the centre.
8.Nf3
8.Bd3 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 d4! I like this simple approach. 10.Bd2 (10.000 dxc3
11.Bxh7+ Kxh7 12.Rxd8 cxb2+ 13.Kxb2 Rxd8 is too much material for the
queen.) 10...Nxe5 11.Bxh7+ Kxh7 12.Qh5+ Kg8 13.Qxe5 f6 14.Qe4 e5 when
Black has good compensation for the pawn.

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8...f6!?
Black normally plays 8...f5 or 8...Ng6 here but I like this approach, putting
pressure on White's centre.
9.exf6
9.Bd3!? is the caveman approach! 9...fxe5 10.Nxe5! (10.Bxh7+?! Kxh7
11.Ng5+ Kg8 12.Qh5 Rf5! 13.Qh7+ Kf8 14.g4 Rxg5 15.Bxg5 Qe8 and Black
defends.) 10...Bxc5 (10...Nxe5 allows 11.Qxb4 taking back the piece.) 11.Bh6
Bxf2+ 12.Kd1 Nf5! 13.Bxf5 Qf6! 14.Bxg7 Nxe5! 15.Bxf6+ Nxg4 16.Bxg4 Rxf6
and after all that Black is better!
9...Rxf6 10.000 Bxc5 11.Bg5 Rf7 12.Bd3 Qf8 13.Qh4 h6 14.Rhe1 Nf5

Black has defended successfully and has a good position.

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6...cxd4 7.Nxd4 Qc7!?
This was played in 1978 in a game between Spassky and Uhlmann.

8.Bb5+
This is the main reply. 8.Qg3 may be better but it is a bit passive, for example
8...a6 9.Bd2 Bc5!? 10.Nb3 Nf5 and Black is starting to get the better of things.

8...Nd7!
Keeps the c-file clear for the queen.

9.0-0

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This position is safe and good for Black as White has too many pawn
weaknesses, for example:

9...Bxc3 10.bxc3 00 11.Ba3 Nxe5 12.Qg3 f6

As Black has an extra pawn, strong centre and well defended pieces he need not
fear the two white bishops. His position is better.

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French Winawer: 4.e5 Ne7: Theory C: 5th Move Alternatives for White
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7

Apart from 5.a3 and 5.Bd3 White doesn't really have any great alternatives, for
example:

5.Nf3
5.Bd3?! c5 6.dxc5 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Nbc6 8.Nf3 transposes to the next chapter.
6...d4 7.a3 Ba5 8.b4 dxc3 9.bxa5 Nd7! 10.Nf3 Nxc5 11.Bb5+ Bd7 is better for
Black.

5...c5

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6.dxc5
6.a3 Bxc3+ 6...Ba5!? Is also playable. 7.bxc3 transposes to the next chapter.

6...Nd7 7.Bd3
I was going to recommend 7...Nc6 here but I think the simplest way to play for
black is simply:

7...Nxc5

Playing this move keeps Blacks options open. He now has the choice of which
minor pieces to exchange should he wish to. This position should hold no fear
for Black. An example line may be:

8.0-0 Bd7 9.Be3 Nxd3 10.Qxd3

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Now both 10...Nc6 and 10...Ng6 give black a very comfortable position. White
cannot claim any edge from the opening.

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French Winawer: 4.e5 Ne7: Quiz
1. Q. White has just played Bd2. The idea is after ...c5 then Nb5 exchanges
dark-squared bishops and threatens to play Nd6+. What can Black play to
avoid Whites key plans?

A. 1...b6 retains Blacks options, most notably the opportunity of


capturing on c3 and following up with ...Ba6 exchanging off blacks
French bishop for Whites good light-squared bishop.
2. Q. Another variation where White has played an early Qg4. How should
Black deal with the threat to g7?

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A. Ignore it with 1...c5! Black immediately counter-attacks. If White
continues with 2.Qxg7 then Black answers with 2...Rg8 and Whites centre
will quickly fall apart.
3. Q. Continuing on from question 2 White has captured the pawn on g7
and has just played a3. Black has a very strong reply. What is it?

A. 1...Qa5 immediately will win material for Black as the a3 pawn is


pinned and the c3 knight is under pressure. White must try 2.axb4 but
this loses the rook on a1.
4. Q. White has played the odd looking Bd3. Is it better for Black to play
1...c5 or 1...f6?

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A. 1...c5 is the better move targeting d4 which White cannot readily
support. This basically forces white to capture on c5 when Black can
continue with 2...d4.
5. Q. This time White has played an early Nf3, but should Black play c5
here?

A. Absolutely! It may seem overly repetitive but I cannot stress enough


that Black must take the earliest opportunity to put pressure on Whites
centre in order to avoid a cramped position.

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Chapter 4: French Winawer: Main Line: White Avoids 7.Qg4

Introduction
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5

This is the start of the main line Winawer variation. Now 7.Qg4 is the most
theoretical challenge to Blacks set up but as in virtually every opening the main
lines can be avoided and these present their own challenges. In this chapter we
will consider three attempts by White to gain an advantage in this position,
namely 7.Nf3, 7.a4 and 7.h4.

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Key Game 1: Briscoe, C - Williams, S
Great Yarmouth 2007

In this game we will look at a quieter system. A system where Black is fine, but I
think that this game is important because it shows what Black's main ideas are
in the Winawer.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5


4...Ne7 is the main move I recommend here, but 4...c5 is also playable and can
easily transpose as in this game.

5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Nf3


This is a much calmer approach than 7.Qg4, but this way of developing should
not bother Black at all. For a start Black's kingside is not under pressure so he
does not need to worry about defending it. I am surprised that 7.Nf3 is such a
common move in this position as it is not aggressively testing Black's opening,
but as it is so popular Black has to be pretty clear in his head what to play
against it in order not to be caught out by a well-prepared opponent.

7...Nbc6

Lets have a little look at what Black should be trying to do over the next couple
of moves:
1. Develop pieces on the queenside.
2. Attack White's weak pawn on c3.
3. Sometimes Black can consider ...b6 planning ...Ba6 swapping off his bad
bishop on c8.
7...Qa5 is playable immediately but as in the following game after 7...Nbc6 it is
possible for White to respond inaccurately.

8.Bd3?!

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This natural move may be a slight mistake as it will allow Black to play ...c4 with
tempo.

Black's basic plan is to play ...c4 and then ...f6!

Key Point!
The f6 break is important as it offers Black good play on the kingside.

8.Be2 is a better move but Black should be fine after 8...Qa5 9.Bd2 00 10.Bd3.
Black must be on his guard here. 10...h6! This stops White's plan. Black is now
aiming to play ...c4 and ...f6.

8...Qa5

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9.Bd2

9.00 allows Black to draw immediately if he so wishes, for example 9...Qxc3


9...Bd7!? 10.Bd2 Qb2 11.Rb1 Qxa3 12.Ra1 Qb2 13.Rb1 with a repetition.

9...c4!
It is worth playing this before White has a chance to play c4 himself.

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Key Point!
Black must always be careful about playing this move as it does close the
queenside, which makes it harder for Black to attack White on that side of the
board. ...c4 also makes Black's light-squared bishop a bad piece, as it has no
potential of developing along the a6-f1 diagonal. 9...c4! is ok here though as
Black can quickly generate counterplay with ...f6.

10. Bf1
Funnily enough this is White's normal answer to ...c4. White wants to re-route
the bishop to h3. On h3 the bishop puts pressure on e6 making it harder for
black to play ...f6. This is not a worry here though as White's plan is too slow.
10.Be2 is a bad square for White's bishop.

10...Bd7
Now that Black has finished stage 1 of his plan (developing the queenside pieces)
he must think about what to do next. A very simple and good plan is:
1. Castle queenside. The king is safer over here as the queenside is closed.
Black is also planning on opening the kingside with ...f6 so he does not
want his king on that side of the board.
2. Play ...f6. This gives White two options: a) Capture the pawn on f6 (as he
does in the game) and b) leave the pawn alone. If White captures on f6,
Black will open the g-file and have a strong centre. If White leaves the
pawn alone then Black will capture on e5. This will create a target on e5
and open the a7-g1 diagonal. Basically Black is doing well in both cases.
3. After ...f6 Black's light-squared bishop has a route back into the game. It
can move to e8 then to g6 or h8. This is a standard plan in the French.

11.g3

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11...f6!
There is no reason not to play this move immediately. I think that Black is
already better now. White is lacking any kind of counterplay.

12.exf6
12.Bh3? fxe5 13.dxe5 Qc7 is also better for Black.

12...gxf6

13.Bh3?!
With hindsight it may have been better to have developed the bishop to g2 but
White has wasted so much time on this plan he can't bring himself to play
anything other than Bh3.

13...000 14.00

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14...Ng6
I decided not to rush matters as I could not see any way that White could get a
decent plan into motion. The knight is well placed on g6: it supports ...e5, helps
h5-h4 and keeps the f4 square under control. 14...e5 is also good - this is now my
main plan, to use my central pawn formation.

15.Bh6
This tries to hold up ...h5 and threatens g7 but now c3 is attacked.

15...Rhg8
Simple and good, as is 15...e5.

16.a4

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16...Qxc3
I could not see anything wrong with winning this pawn so I decided to capture
it; a pawn is a pawn!

17.Bd2 Qb2 18.Rb1 Qa3 19.Re1

19...e5!
A good plan for two reasons:
1. An exchange of light-squared bishops can only help Black as it leaves
White's king weaker, especially on h3, g3 and f3.
2. Black has a large central pawn mass. These pawns must be used!

20.Re3 Qd6
My queen comes back into the game and finds a good central square.

21.Bxd7+ Qxd7 22.Bc3

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22...e4!
The game is really over now. I am a pawn up and I have all the attacking plans.
On the other hand my king is perfectly safe.

23.Ne1 f5! 24.Kh1

24...f4
Opening a path to the white king.

25.gxf4 Nxf4 26.Rg3


White has to try and block the g-file.

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26...Rxg3?!
A slight mistake, I should have played 26...Nh3 hitting f2 immediately. Then
27.Qe2 Rdf8 with a winning position.

27.fxg3 Nh3 28.Qh5 Nf2+ 29.Kg2 Rf8 30.Bd2 Rf5 31.Qh4 Qf7
Setting up a nasty threat.

32.Bf4?
Walking straight into it but White was in trouble anyway. If 32.Be3 Ne7!

32...Rh5!
The rest is relatively easy.

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33.Qxh5 Qxh5 34.Kxf2 Nxd4 35.Ng2 Qf3+ 36.Kg1 Ne2+ 37.Kh1 Nxf4
38.gxf4 e3 39.c3 e2 40.Kg1 Qxc3 01

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Key Game 2: Morozevich, A - Lputian, S
Sochi 2007

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.h4!?

Nbc6 8.h5 Qa5 9.Bd2

9...Bd7

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This is the main line but White's plan in this game puts doubt in my head about
the soundness of Blacks whole setup. 9...h6!? is the move that I am going to
recommend in the theory section. At least this stops the dark squares around
the kingside being weakened.

10.h6 gxh6
Black's kingside is already in a mess.

11.Rb1!
A very logical novelty. 11.Nf3 000 12.Rxh6 Ng8! And Black will play ...f6
next, with counterplay.

11...000 12.Rb5 Qa4


If 12...Qxa3!? then 13.Rxc5 is possible.

13.Qb1
Now 13.Rxc5 can be answered by 13...b6, when the rook is in trouble.

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13...Na5
13...Nxd4 14.cxd4 Bxb5 15.Bxb5 Qxd4 16.Nf3 Qe4+ 17.Kf1 should be better for
White.
White should be comfortably on top here and therefore the opening must be
considered to be a failure from Blacks perspective. Morozevich fails to find a
number of accurate continuations but this should still not fool anyone into
attempting to defend this ugly-looking position.

14.Rxc5+ Kb8

15.Rh3!?

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Immediately activating the rook was unnecessary. The straightforward 15.Bxh6
when the bishop can be further activated by returning to g5 is both the simplest
and best continuation.

15...b6 16.Rf3

16...Ka8?!
Whites inaccuracies gave Black the opportunity to play 16...Nf5 when 17.g4 can
be met by 17...Rhg8!, which would in fact have left Black in a strong position.
Once again I must stress that these errors by Morozevich in the middlegame do
not justify Blacks opening line.

17.Rb5!
A superb move taking advantage of the trapped nature of Blacks queen. Note
that 17...Bxb5 walks into 18.Bxb5 Qxa3 19.Bc1 when Blacks queen is doomed.
The subsequent exchange of queens in the game shows how poor Blacks
structure is. Morozevich gives a textbook demonstration of how to exploit this
and bearing in mind Black is a pawn up his demise is rather swift.

17...Nc4 18.Rb4 Nxa3 19.Rxa4 Nxb1 20.Ra1 Nxd2 21.Kxd2 Rdf8


22.Bd3 Rhg8 23.g3 h5 24.Ne2 h4 25.Rh1 hxg3 26.Nxg3 Rh8 27.Nh5
Ng8 28.Rg1

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Blacks pieces are in shocking positions. His next move hastens his demise but
the result would surely have been unchanged given any other tries.

28...f5?! 29.Rg7 Bc8 30.Nf4 Nh6 31.c4 dxc4 32.Bxc4 Rd8 33.c3 Ng4
34.Ke2 Rhe8 35.Rh3 Rd7 36.Rxd7 Bxd7 37.Rxh7 b5 38.Bb3 Bc8
39.f3 a5 40.fxg4 10

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This game clearly demonstrates the types of positions that Black must avoid.

Key Point!
By allowing white to play h6 blacks kingside is severely weakened. For this
reason I will suggest Black playing ...h6 before white gets the chance to do so.
White can then challenge this set up by playing Qg4 but the theory section
will show that Black has adequate resources to counter this idea.

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French Winawer: Main Line: White Avoids 7.Qg4: Theory A: 7.Nf3
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Nf3
The most popular move.

7...Nbc6
7...Qa5 may in fact be more accurate.

8.Bd3?!
8.Be2 may be better here because the bishop on d3 allows Black the possibility
of playing ...c4 followed by ...f6 breaking in the centre. 8...Qa5

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1. 9.Bd2 00 9...Qa4!? 10.dxc5!? could lead to some interesting non-standard
positions. Now:
1.1 10.Bd3 Ng6 10...h6!? is an alternative, following up with ...c4 and ....f6.
But not 10...c4?? 11.Bxh7+! A standard Greek gift. 11.Ng5 h6 12.Nh3 c4
13.Be2 13.Bxg6!? should not unduly worry Black, who should be able to
activate his bishop with Bd7-e8 and ...g5. 13...f6 and Black gets his main
break in.
1.2 10.00 c4 with ...f6 to follow should be fine.
2. 9.0-0 b6 9...Qxc3? 10.Bd2 Qb2 11.Rb1 Qxa3 12.Rb3! and the queen will be
trapped. 10.a4 Ba6 11.Bxa6 Qxa6 12.dxc5 bxc5 13.Ba3 Qa5 Black is fine
here. White is unable to attack the c5-pawn again and must deal with the
threat to c3.

8...Qa5 9.Bd2
9.00 allows Black to draw. 9...c4 10.Be2 Bd7!? We saw this in the introductory
game. Black is promised a good game.

9...c4

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10.Bf1
Intending g3 and Bg2, or g3, h4 and Bh3. 10.Be2 Bd7 11.00 11.Ng5 f5 12.exf6
gxf6 13.Bh5+ Ng6 14.Nxh7 Kf7 15.Qg4 Rag8 when Whites pieces are in a tangle.
11...f6 12.Re1 fxe5 13.dxe5 000 and Black is doing well.

10...Bd7
10...00 also seems satisfactory, following up with a quick ...f6. 11.g3 f6 12.Bh3
fxe5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Nf5 15.00 Qc5 when Whites bishop pair is
anything but active.

11.g3 f6

Black has achieved at least equality from the opening.

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French Winawer: Main Line: White Avoids 7.Qg4: Theory B: 7.a4
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.a4

This used to be main line but has been superseded by 7.Qg4.

7...Qa5
White now has two main choices.
8.Qd2 when White wants to place his bishop on a3. 8...Nbc6 9.Nf3 f6!?
(Korchnoi)

Now:
1. 10.Ba3?! fxe5 11.Bxc5 e4 12.Ng1 00 is better for Black.

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2. 10Bd3?! (Watson) when 10...fxe5 11.dxe5 00 12.00 Rxf3 13.gxf3 c4
14.Be2 Nxe5 gives Black strong play.
3. 10.exf6! gxf6 then:

3.1. 11.Ba3 cxd4 12.cxd4 Qxd2+ 13.Kxd2 Nf5 is roughly equal.


3.2. 11.dxc5 e5 with a dynamic position. 12.c4! d4 13.Qxa5 Nxa5 14.Bd2
Nec6 15.Rb1 Bf5! 16.Rb5 a6 17.Rxa5 Bxc2! Bizarre but ok for Black.
3.3. 11. Bb5 Bd7 12.Ba3 cxd4 13.cxd4 Rg8 14.Rg1 Qxd2+ 15.Kxd2 Na5
16.Bb4 Nc4+ 17.Bxc4 dxc4 with rough equality.

8.Bd2 Nbc6 9.Nf3 Bd7

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10.Bb5
10.Be2 f6 11.c4 leads to a similar thing except Black's pawn is still on a7. The
move ...a6 has created a slight weakness on b6.

10...a6 11.Be2 f6 12.c4 Qc7 13.cxd5 Nxd5 14.c4 Nde7 15.exf6 gxf6

After a number of exchanges we have reached an interesting and unclear


position with chances for both sides.

16.dxc5
16.d5!? exd5 17.cxd5 Nxd5 18.00 18.Qc2 Ncb4 19.Qe4+ Kd8 The black king is
quite safe here. In fact White has problems on the e-file. 18...Ncb4! Black will
castle queenside and it's up to White to prove compensation for the pawn.

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16...e5 17.Bc3 000 18.Qd6

This position was reached in Short, N - Pelletier, Y, European Team


Championships 2001. Now 18...Rhg8 instead of 18...Bf5 leaves an unclear but
roughly balanced position with chances for both sides.

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French Winawer Variation: Main Line: White Avoids 7.Qg4: Theory C:
7.h4
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.h4

This is fashionable and is Nigel Shorts regular choice.

7...Qa5
7...Nbc6 probably reaches the same position but gives Black more options.
7...Qc7 8.h5 h6 9.Nf3 b6 10.Bb5+ Bd7 11.Bd3 is playable too, but is another story.

8.Bd2 Nbc6 9.h5 h6

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10.Qg4
This is the best way to test Black's setup. Instead:
1. 10.Rh4 Bd7 11.Rg4 Qc7! 12.Nf3 12.Rxg7 allows Nxe5! 12...g5! 13.hxg6 fxg6
14.Rb1 cxd4! 15.cxd4 g5 which might be considered unclear but is
definitely worth playing.
2. 10.Nf3 Bd7 11.Rb1 Qc7 12.Bd3 000 13.Qc1 Rdf8 13...f6 is premature.
14.Bf4 holds the centre. 14.Bf4 c4 15.Be2 Kb8 16.a4 Ka8 17.g3 with a
complex position where Black is no worse.

Key Point!
Now the a-pawn is weak. How can Black target it? 17...Nc8!

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10...Nf5!
In my opinion inferior is 10...Bd7 11.Qxg7 000 12.Nf3 Qa4 12...Rdg8 13.Qf6 or
12...Qb6 13.dxc5 Qxc5 14.Qf6 d4 15.c4 both fail to impress. 13.Bd3 Rdg8 14.Qxf7
Rxg2 15.Bxh6 c4 16.Qf6 Rxh6 17.Qxh6 cxd3 18.cxd3 Qc2 as White has the
defensive retreat of 19.Qd2! when he is close to winning.

11.Bd3

Now it is actually possible for Black to play 11...0-0! A sample line might go
12.Nf3 Qa4 13.0-0 c4 when White must give up his best minor piece or lose the
c2 pawn. The result of either of these will leave Black at least equal.

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French Winawer: Main Line: White Avoids 7.Qg4: Quiz
1. Q. White has just responded to ...Qa5 with Bd2. A key moment has arisen.
What is Blacks best move?

A. 1...c4 both gains a tempo and prevents White from playing c4 himself
which would be a key break. 1...c4 does close the queenside so it is
imperative for Black to follow up this move with ...f6.
2. Q. Whites advanced pawn on h5 threatens to disrupt Blacks kingside.
Should Black ignore this with ...Bd7 and a quick ...0-0-0, or play ...h6?

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A. I feel 1...h6 is a critical move. If Black fails to play this White will play
h6 and Blacks kingside will be forever in a mess. White will have
succeeded in creating major weaknesses.
3. Q. White has sensibly avoided playing Bd3 which allows ...c4 with tempo.
How should black develop his queenside bishop?

A. 1...b6 preparing ...Ba6 is the best idea. Black will be able to exchange
off the light-squared bishops.

4. Q. White has made the somewhat unusual choice of defending c3 with


his queen as opposed to his bishop. Although not too dangerous in this
exact position what move can White play to justify Qd2?

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A. Playing 1.Ba3 would justify this set up and Black should be prepared
for this switch of development by White. Here Black can respond with
1...fxe5 when 2.Bxc5 is met by 2...e4.
5. Q. White has once again played Qg4. Is the threat to g7 real? What
should Black play?

A. The threat should be defended by 1...Nf5. As Black has played...h6, if


White was allowed to capture on g7 he may soon also capture on h6 when
Whites advanced h-pawn will be very difficult to stop.

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Chapter 5: French Winawer: Main Line 7.Qg4

Introduction
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4

7.Qg4 is arguably the most theoretical and challenging line that white can play
against the Winawer. White immediately attacks Blacks kingside and threatens
to capture the pawn on g7. Black must obviously decide how to meet this threat
either by preventing the capture on g7 or seeking counterplay against Whites
queenside. By now most of you will realise that given an option between
(counter-)attack and defence I will always prefer to opt for the former. For this
main reason I do not recommend 7...0-0, which although entirely playable
gives White a very clear plan of attack on the kingside.
My primary response to 7.Qg4 is 7...Qc7, which allows White to play Qxg7 but
gives the position an unstable and unbalanced nature. These types of situations
allow both players to challenge themselves and also benefit from preparation
and understanding the key features of the positions arising.

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Key Game 1: Palkovi, J - Portisch, F
Eger 1987

The opening variation in this game has been one of the main battlegrounds
within the French defence. Black sacrifices a pawn in the attempt to get an
attack against the white king. I expect that the variation is slightly dubious but it
has claimed a number of victims.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4


This and 3...Nf6 are the main responses to 3.Nc3. With 3...Bb4 Black pins the
knight on c3 and by doing this attacks the pawn on e4. The main downside of
3...Bb4 is that it weakens the dark squares around Black's kingside, mainly g7.

4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4


This is the critical variation. White starts an immediate attack against g7. Black
now has a couple of ways to react.

7...cxd4

This is one of the most aggressive choices but Black could also have played:
1. 7...00, but he will often have to defend a kingside attack in these
variations.
2. 7...Qc7 will often transpose back to the game.

8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 Qc7 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 Bd7 12.Qd3 dxc3

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This position has been reached in 1000s of games. White's king is slightly
insecure as it is stuck in the middle of the board and has nowhere particularly
safe it can move to, but White is a pawn up and it is a very strong pawn, the h-
pawn. This pawn often runs all the way down to h8.

13.Rb1 d4!?
This is a typical idea. Black sacrifices another pawn in order to open up the
centre. This idea has actually become popular again recently.

14.Nxd4
Another idea was 14.Ng3!? when the knight is trying to take advantage of the
weak d6 and f6 squares. 14...000 15.Ne4 Nf5 leads to an unclear game.

14...Nxd4 15.Qxd4 Nf5

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Black's pieces spring to life with tempo. Black wants to put his light-squared
bishop on c6 and castle queenside when his pieces are all working well together,
but is it worth 2 pawns? That is doubtful.

16.Qf2 Bc6

White's light-squared bishop on f1 is tied down to the defence of the g-pawn so


White decides to play:

17.Rg1
Very sensible. So far White has done nothing wrong but Black does not panic
and he keeps up the pressure.

17...Rd8
Unfortunately 17...000 allows 18.Qxa7 when White is close to winning.
17...Qd7 is considered to be the main line nowadays. We will look at this in the
theory section.

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18.Bd3?!
This seems to be the best place for the bishop. From d3 it attacks the knight on
f5 and blocks up the d-file but it does run into Black's next move. It may have
been better to have played 18.Rb4! The rook is well placed here as it stops ...Nd4
and as we will see in the game the rook can be exposed on b1. With hindsight
this is what White should have played. White makes a typical mistake here by
playing 18.Bd3 - he underestimates Black's counterplay.

Key Point!

If you spot any danger and you can avoid it, do avoid it.

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18...Rxd3!
This seems to be a very strong sacrifice. I guess that Black was thinking along
the following lines: I am two pawns down anyway so I am not going to win any
endgames, so why not sacrifice an exchange as well?. This will give me a
bigger initiative and make it harder for White to defend. This way of thinking
makes some sense. White really has to play accurately after this exchange
sacrifice.

19.cxd3 Qd8 20.Qxa7


Key Point!

Active defence! This is often the best way to defend.

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20...Qxd3
In for a penny, in for a pound!

21.Rb4
The rook moves out of the way of the queen. This seems a bit passive. White
should have played 21.Qb8+!, which tries to force the exchange of some pieces.
This is the kind of variation that White should have analysed first - the reason
for this?

Key Point!
Forced variations are critical.

21...Ke7 22.Rxb7+ 22.Qxg8? Qxb1 23.Qg5+ Kd7 is winning for Black. 22...Bxb7
23.Qxb7+ Kf8 24.Qa8+ Kg7 25.Qf3 when an exchange of queens would
obviously leave White well on top so Black must play 25...Qc2 when his chances
seem ok. White's king is still very exposed, Black's c-pawn is very strong and the
knight on f5 is another dangerous piece. 26.Qd1! Qb1 27.Kf2 Qb6+ 28.Kf1 Rd8!
29.Qe2 c2! 30.Qxc2 Ne3+ 31.Bxe3 Qxe3 winning for Black, is a variation
illustrating Black's chances.

21...Qc2
White's position looks very dangerous but he may still be able to defend.

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22.Be3?
Too optimistic. As with 18.Bd3 White underestimates the danger. He should
have gone for the draw with 22.Qb8+! Ke7 23.Qc7+ Ke8 23...Kf8? 24.Qd8+ Kg7
25.Qd1 is good for White. 24.Qc8+ Ke7 25.Qc7+ Ke8 with a repetition.

22...Kf8!

The king removes itself from danger. White is lost.

23.Rxb7?!
White had to try 23.Qb6 with the idea of trying to get a perpetual check by
Qd8+ and Qg5+ etc., but Black still wins after 23...Kg7! 24.g4 Bf3! 25.gxf5+ Kh7
and White cannot stop checkmate. 26.Qb5 Rxg1+ 27.Bxg1 Qd2+ 28.Kf1 Bg2#

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23...Bxb7 24.Bc5+ Kg7 25.Qxb7 Qd2+ 0-1

The c-pawn promotes so White resigned. White showed a rather over-


optimistic approach to this game. For a start, 18.Bd3 was too risky and then
White turned down the draw at the end of the game. You have to try and
approach the game that you are playing from an unbiased point of view. This is
difficult to do but it will give you a more honest appraisal of the position in
front of you and, hopefully, then you will play better moves and your results
will improve.

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Key Game 2: Calistri, T - Bunzmann, D
Clichy 2007

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Qc7
8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 dxc3 12.Qd3 d4 13.Ng3
Bd7 14.Ne4 000

15.Rb1?!
15.Nd6+ stops Blacks planned sacrifice and is a superior move. 15.Rb1 is
dubious but gives a perfect example of the attacking opportunities available to
Black in this line.

15...Nxe5!

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Gaining a large initiative at the cost of a piece. We will have a deeper look at this
idea in the theory section.

16.fxe5 Qxe5

This is the kind of position that you should be aiming for if you play this
variation with the Black pieces. Active attacking chances.

17.Qe2 Bc6 18.Ng3 Qd5

Black's general plan is to push his central pawns, whilst White's pieces are
lacking any co-ordination.

19.Qf2
Trying to free the bishop on f1.

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19.Rb4 is Fritz 12's main suggestion but it even likes Black's position after
19...Nf5!? 20.Nxf5 exf5 when Black has a nice tactic after 21.Qf2 Rde8+ 22.Kd1
Rxg2!! 23.Bxg2 Qxg2 24.Qxg2 Bxg2 25.Rc4+! The only defence. 25...Kd7
25...Kb8? 26.Bf4+ Ka8 27.Rg1 gives the white king the escape square c1. 26.Rxd4+
Kc6 27.Rc4+ Kd5 Study-like! Black is better.

19...f5
Here they come! 19...Ng6!? is an alternative.

20.Rb4
20.Bd3! e5!? 20...Qxg2 gives Black a comfortable edge.

20...a5!

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Forcing play. The white rook will feel a little uncomfortable on c4.

21.Rc4 e5
21...b5 was also very strong. 22.Rxc6+ Nxc6 The Spanish Armada is coming!

22.Be2 f4!

Key Point!
It is worth noting just how powerful the Black pawns have become!

23.Bxf4 Rdf8
23...exf4! was simpler. 24.Qxf4 b5 when Black will finish material up.

24.Rxc6!
The only chance.

24...Qxc6
24...Nxc6? 25.Bf3 with counterplay.

25.Bf3 Rxf4 26.Bxc6 Rxf2 27.Bxb7+ Kxb7 28.Kxf2

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Black has a winning position - it is all about those central pawns! The rest is
reasonably straightforward and Black does not disappoint.

28...Rf8+ 29.Ke2 Nd5 30.Rf1 Nf4+ 31.Kf3 d3 32.Rb1+ Kc6 33.Ke3 d2


34.Ne2 Nxg2+ 35.Ke4 Kd6 36.Nxc3 Rf4+ 37.Kd3 Rd4+ 38.Ke2 Nf4+
39.Kd1 Kc5 40.Ne2 Nxe2 41.Kxe2 Kc4 42.h4 e4 43.Rh1 e3 44.Kd1
Rf4 45.h5 Rf2 01
Key Point!

It cannot be overstated that Black must always be alert to the possibility of


sacrificing a piece for a mass of overwhelming central pawns. Such positions
are incredibly difficult to defend from Whites perspective.

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French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Theory A: 15.Rg1
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 Qc7
8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 dxc3 11.Qd3 Nbc6 12.f4 d4
13.Nxd4!

This seems like White's best way of trying to get an advantage. It is obviously
critical.

13...Nxd4 14.Qxd4 Bd7

14...Nf5? is a serious move-order disorder: 15 .Bb5+! Bd7 16.Qxd7+ Qxd7


17.Bxd7+ Kxd7 18.Kf2 The endgame is hopeless for Black and White wins in
short order: 18...Kc6 19.Rb1 Nd4 20.Rd1 Nxc2 21.Rb3 Rac8 22.Rxc3+ Kb6
23.Rb3+ Kc7 24.Bb2 a6 25.Rd2 10 Greet, A - Pyrich, G Edinburgh 2009.

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15.Rg1!
Again the most critical move and probably the best move. White aims to force
through g4! Other moves will be looked at later.

15...Nf5 16.Qf2
16.Qc4? can be met by 16...Qb6, winning material after 17.Rh1 Bc6.

16...Qc6

We are going to concentrate on this move. From c6 the queen has the option of
moving into e4 which can cause White a number of problems. The other main
idea is to play ...Qd5 and then ...Bc6 when Black has good control of the light
squares. 16...Bc6?! allows 17.g4.

17.Bd3
The bishop on d3 guards a lot of squares, most importantly e4. 17.g4!? is a bit
too loosening for my taste but it has to be met with precision: 17...Qe4+! 18.Qe2
18.Be2? Nd4! wins the c2-pawn. Now:

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1. 18...Bc6? has been played. 19.Qxe4 Bxe4 and now 20.Rb1! 20.Bg2? Rxg4
+ 01 Palkovi, J -Barbulescu, D, Naleczow 1988 20...Nd4 21.Kf2 Nxc2
22.Rb3 Rc8 23.Rg3 is good for White.
2. 18...Qd5! 19.Qc4 19.Qd3 000! 20.Qxc3+ 20...Kb8 and Black has nice
counterplay for the two pawns. 19...Nd4 20.Qxd5 exd5 21.Kf2 Rxg4
22.Rxg4 Bxg4 23.Bd3 Bf5 is a perfectly acceptable endgame for Black.
3. 18...Qa4 threatening ...Nd4 might be worth a try but 18...Qd5 is the
soundest move.

17...Qd5
This is a typical plan. Black prepares ...Bc6 when he has good control of the light
squares. So is it worth a pawn? Well, one thing is for sure: White has to play
accurately.

18.Be3!

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At the moment this seems to be the most dangerous move for Black to deal
with. It has also been played by the US talent Ray Robson, a junior who knows a
lot of theory. White has a large number of possibilities here. These include:
1. 18.Bxf5?!
2. 18.g4
3. 18.a4
4. 18.Rb1
5. 18.Be3!

1. 18.Bxf5?! is not dangerous for Black. If anything, White is the one that has
to be more careful. 18...exf5 19.Be3 000 20.Rd1 Qa2! Attacking Whites
weak queenside pawns is annoying to meet. 20...Qc4 21.Bxa7? The
position is really hard to play and this move actually loses the game,
believe it or not. 21.Qe2 and 21.Qf1 are better options, but don't ask me
why! 21...Bc6 22.Rd4 Qa2! 23.Qe2 Qxa3 24.Rxd8+ Rxd8 25.Be3 Qb2!+
White is no longer able to cope with the numerous threats. 26.Kf2 Bb5
27.Qf3 Qxc2+ 28.Kg3 Rg8+ 29.Kh3 Bc6 30.Qf2 Qd3 31.g4 fxg4+ 32.Kg3 Rh8
[32...Qh7!] 33.h4 gxh3 34.Kh2 Qe4 35.Rc1 Rg8 36.Rg1 Rg2+ 37.Rxg2 hxg2
38.Qg3 Qh7+ 39.Qh3+ Qxh3+ 40.Kxh3 b5 41.Kh2 b4 42.Bc5 b3 43.Bb4 b2 01
Spitz, P - Debray, C, Evry. Black played perfectly after 21.Bxa7 and even
though the game on a whole is not flawless, I thought the tactical ideas
that Debray demonstrated were instructive. 21.Bxa7 Bc6 22.Bd4 White
has to block the d-file, and here Rybka suggests 22...f6!? with nice
compensation. Blacks idea is to capture on e5 and if White plays fxe5, to
play ...Rg4 followed by a devastating check on e4. 22...Qb2!? looks drawish
after 23.Qe3 Qxc2 24.Qxc3 Rxg2 25.Qxc2 Rxc2 when Black is still a pawn
down but very active.

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2. 18.g3 This safeguards the g-pawn once and for all. However, White is still
heavily underdeveloped and a cursory glance at the position is enough to
know that Black has more than ample compensation. 18...Nd4! 18...Bb5!?
is an unexplored alternative. 19.Rf1 Bc6 20.Be3 Nf3+ 21.Ke2 Qa5! White
will find it very hard to budge the knight on f3, which is an extremely
annoying piece. The position is roughly equal, for example 22.Bc5
Blacks initiative is plain to see. 22...0-0-0 23.Bd6? Grabbing a pawn with
23.Bxa7 is also a dangerous path to take: 23...Rxd3! 24.cxd3 c2 Threatening
mate in one! 25.Qe3 Nxh2 26.Rf2! Any other rook move allows 26..Bf3+
and wins. 26...Ng4 27.Qc5 Qxc5 28.Bxc5 Nxf2 29.Bxf2 White would do very
well to reach this position after being bamboozled by tactics all over the
place! 29...Rh8 30.Kd2 Rh2 31.Ke3 and the position is most likely drawn.
23...Rxd6!? Flashy, and frightening to play against but may not be the
soundest. 23...f5! in particular looks good. 24.exd6 Qh5 25.g4?? Losing the
game. According to Rybka, 25.Qxa7! is the only move that saves the
position. Right, that is obviously the case! 25...Qxg4? 25...Rxg4! would
have been completely winning. 26.Qg3 Qxg3 27.hxg3 Rxg3 and Black
eventually prevailed after more ups and downs in Semina, S - Ludwig, K,
Germany 2000.

3. 18.a4 is also harmless. 18...000 18...Bc6 19.Ra3 [19.Kf1 000 20.g4 Nd4
and Black had a dangerous initiative in Talla, V - Cech, P, Pardubice 1991.]
19...000 20.Rxc3 Kb8 looks dangerous for White but he is two pawns
up! Play could continue 21.Rc4! Rh8 22.h3 Rdg8 23.Ba3 I would take White
here. 19.Ra3 Qa5 20.g4 20.Bxf5 exf5 21.Qe3 Bc6 22.Kf2 Kb8 23.Qxc3 Qd5
24.g3 Qe4 is dangerous for White. 20...Ne7 21.Qd4 Nd5 22.Be4 Bc6
23.Bxd5 Rxd5 24.Qxc3 Qd8 25.Ke2 Kb8! 26.Be3 Rh8 is a typical line
where Blacks initiative endures.
4. 18.Rb1 was most commonly played. This move makes a lot of sense. The
rook takes over the b-file and gets ready to move to b3 in some positions.
18...Bc6

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4.1 19.Rb4 000 20.Rc4 Kb8 21.Rxc3 Qa2! An important idea in this
variation. The queen can cause a lot of problems on a2. 22.Qc5? 22.Rxc6!?
bxc6 23.Qc5 with unclear compensation. 22...Qa1 23.Kd2 Nd4! Black has
good play, with one idea being ..Bxg2 and ..Nf3. Strobel, W - Cech,P,
Bayern 1997.
4.2 19.Rb3 A straightforward approach. White simply wants to win
another pawn - the dangerous Black one on c3. 19...000 20.Rxc3 Kb8
And now, Black seems to have enough counterplay for the 2 pawns
deficit:

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4.2.1 21.g4 Nd4 22.Rg3 Qh1+ 23.Qf1 Nf3+ 24.Kf2 Qxh2+ 25.Qg2
Qxg2+ 26.Rxg2 This is forced so far and now Black can liquidate
into a drawn opposite colour bishops ending: 26...Ne1! 27.Rg3
Nxd3+ 28.Rcxd3 Be4 29.Rxd8+ Rxd8 30.c3 Rd3 31.Rxd3 Bxd3
32.Kg3 Kc7 33.Kh4 Kd7 34.Kg5 Be2 35.f5 Bd1 36.Be3 a6 37.Kf4 Bc2
38.Bd4 Bd3 39.a4 Bc2 40.a5 Bd3 41.Bb6 Bc2 1/21/2 Przewoznik, J
- Barbulescu, D, Naleczow 1988.
4.2.2 21.Qc5 Rxg2 22.Qxd5 Rxg1+ 23.Kf2 Rdg8 24.Qd8+! Rxd8
25.Kxg1 Rg8+ 26.Kf1 Nh4! Black had too much activity to be in any
kind of trouble. 27.Be3 Rg2 28.Bg1 Rg4 29.Be3 Rg2 30.Bg1 1/21/2
Zivkovic, V - Kutuzovic, B, Sibenik 2008. This was quite a well
played game by both sides with Black taking his chances well and
White defending resolutely.
5. 18.Be3!

18...Nxe3 Black must take on e3 as otherwise White has too much


pressure on the g1a7 diagonal. 19.Qxe3 White never has to worry about
his light-square weaknesses now. This is a problem that frequently comes
up when White plays Bxf5. 19...Rxg2

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Getting the last pawn back but Blacks king is in a bit of danger. 20.Rxg2
Qxg2 21.Be4 Qxh2

22.0-0-0!? This move keeps more pressure on Blacks position. The other
option 22.Bxb7 gives Black a choice. One is 22...Rb8 23.Be4 [23.Qxa7??
Qg3+] 23...Qh4+ when Black forces the exchange of queens into an
ending. 24.Qf2 Qxf2+ [24...Qg4!? 25.Qxa7 Rb2 26.Qf2 Ba4 looks unclear.
The White king is very exposed.] 25.Kxf2 is slightly better for White and
very uncomfortable for Black to play. Maybe Black could have tried
24...Qg4 in this line.

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22...Bc6 Looks bad but according to Fritz 12, the game should end in a
draw. Alternatively:
5.1 22...Bb5 leads to:

5.1.1 23.Rh1 Qd2+ 24.Qxd2 cxd2+ 25.Kxd2 0-0-0+=


5.1.2 23.Bxb7 Rd8 24.Rxd8+ Kxd8 25.Qxc3 Qxf4+ 26.Kb2 Qf2
looks ok for Black.
5.2 22...Rd8 is unsound:

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23.Kb1 has been played but Rybka demonstrated the
astonishing 23.Qd4!!, giving up a pawn with check! The point
is that after 23...Qxf4+ 24.Kb1 White's immediate threats are
Rg1 and Rh1 and Black would have been already close to
losing. Black's only reply to prolong the fight is 24...Qh6!
when White squeezes on with 25.Bxb7 Qf8 26.Qxc3 with a
large advantage.
23.Bxc6+ bxc6 24.Qd4 and now with the computer-like 24...a5! Black can
just about draw this. 25.Kb1 25.Rg1 Qd2+ 26.Qxd2 cxd2+ 27.Kxd2 Kd7
28.Kc3 Rh8= 25...Qe2! 26.Qd7+ Kf8 27.Qd6+ Kg7 28.Rg1+ Kh8=

It is quite possible that there are improvements along the way in these
variations!

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Summary

I've analyzed this variation (12...d4) a number of times now and this is the first
time I felt that the variation has really come under threat. 18.Be3! was indeed a
strong novelty and Black has to tread very carefully just to survive the opening.

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French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Theory B: 15.Rb1
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 Qc7
8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 dxc3 11.f4 Nbc6 12.Qd3 d4 13.Nxd4
Nxd4 14.Qxd4 Bd7

15.Rb1
Key Point!

In the 12...d4 variation, against an early Rg1, Black plays ...Bd7, ...Nf5 and
...Qc6.
Against an early Rb1, Black plays ...Bd7 ...Nf5 and ...Bc6.

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15...Nf5 16.Qf2
This is the normal retreat square for Whites queen.

16...Bc6
I prefer this move when White has played Rb1 and, from the results of the
games played in this variation, things look quite promising for Black. 16...Qc6!?
is still interesting.

17.Rg1
This is really the only logical move. White must prepare g4 to kick away Black's
knight on f5, so what should Black do now?

17...Rd8!?
We saw this move being played in one of the introductory games. The rook is
active on d8 and ...Nd4 might be an idea at some stage. This is not the most
popular choice but White has to proceed with care, for example:

18.Rb4!
This looks like the only way that White can try to gain an advantage. White
stops ...Nd4 and moves the rook to a more active square. 18.Bd3?! Rxd3! was
looked at in the introductory game. 19.cxd3 Qd8 20.Qxa7 Qxd3 White should
now play 21.Qb8+ Ke7 22.Rxb7+ Bxb7 23.Qxb7+ Kf8 24.Qa8+ Kg7 25.Qf3 Qc2
when Black has a strong initiative.

18...Qd7 19.Bd3 Rh8!

This is an important new idea. Black forces White to weaken the g3-square.

20.h3
20.g4 Nd4 and Black's knight now has the f3 square to move to.

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20...Rg8 21.Rc4
21.Rb3 leads to the same thing: 21...Rg3 22.Rxc3.

21...Rg3 22.Rxc3 Be4!

It looks like Black is doing fine here, he might even be better!

23.Qd2 Bxd3 24.Rxd3 Rxd3 25.cxd3 Qb5!

Of course Black wants to avoid swapping the queens off. Black now has a vicious
attack. He is threatening ...Rxd3 and the Black knight is also very dangerously
placed. I prefer Black!

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French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Theory C: 13.Ng3
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 Qc7
8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 dxc3 11.f4 Nbc6 12.Qd3 d4
13.Ng3!?

This is an interesting idea. The knight hardly ever gets a chance to move around
to e4 in the Winawer so White grabs his chance here. The plan is to play Ne4
and then either Nd6+ or Nf6+. Karjakin used this move to defeat Kamsky in
2009 so it cannot be ignored. On the downside, Black need not fear the loss of
his c-pawn, and the pawn formation on d4 and c3 can be very unpleasant for
White.

13...Bd7
Key Point!

I always tell students that I teach that the first thing they need to do is to try
and work out what their opponent is planning. Well it is clear that White is
planning Ne4 when Black's king will be faced with a nasty check. So ...Bd7
makes sense, so the black king is ready to castle queenside and then move
over to b8 or a8.

14.Be2
This was Karjakin's choice so I will consider it to be the main line. White wants
to castle kingside before playing Ne4. Also, if he plays Ne4 straight away then
his g-pawn will be a target.
14.Ne4 is obviously also critical. I consider 14...000 to be forced. Now:

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1. 15.Nd6+ Kb8 16.Rb1 b6 This is better than 16...Bc8. 17.Nxf7 [17.Nb5 Qb7
18.Nd6 is a draw unless Black plays 18...Qa8?! which looks a rather silly
square for the queen, but it might be playable. For example 19.Nxf7 Rdf8
20.Nd6 Nf5 but White should be better after 21.Nxf5 Rxf5 22.Qe4.]
17...Rdf8 18.Nd6 18.Ng5?! allows Black the chance to gain a dangerous
initiative by playing 18...Rxg5! 19.fxg5 Be8! Black must be a lot better here.
All of his pieces are ready to attack White's position, for example 20.Be2
Bg6 21.Qd1 Qxe5 with a big attack. 18...Nf5 Black must rid himself of the
strong White knight. 19.Nxf5 Rxf5

Even though Black is a pawn down I like his position here. His rooks are
active and the pawn on d4 is very strong. White has to tread with care.
20.g3 This is the move that White would like to play, developing the
light-squared bishop to the long diagonal, but Black has a typical strike
for these types of positions: 20...Nxe5!

Key Point!
A tactic worth remembering!

21.fxe5 Bc6! Bringing another piece into the game. 22.Rg1 Be4 Fritz
found this strong idea! 23.Qxe4 23.Qc4 Qxc4 24.Bxc4 Bxc2 25.Rb5 Rg4! and
the second rook enters the game, which spells disaster for White.
23...Rxe5 24.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 25.Be2 Qe4! with a very interesting position
where I prefer Black.

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2. 15.Rb1 Nxe5! You must try to get to grips with this typical sacrifice.
16.fxe5 Qxe5 In exchange for the piece Black has a dangerous pawn
majority in the centre and threats against the White king. 17.Qe2 White
must get out of the pin to retain his extra piece. 17...Bc6 Black has very
good compensation I will just demonstrate one variation. 17...Nf5!? is an
alternative. 18.Ng3 Qd5 19.Qf2 f5 20.Bd3 e5! 21.Nxf5 Nxf5 22.Qxf5+ Kb8
g2 will drop when White's king is in a lot of trouble.

14...0-0-0
The most logical move. 14...Nf5!? 15.Nxf5 15.Ne4 allows Rxg2; 15.Rb1!? is possible.
15...exf5 16.Bf3 16...0-0-0 17.0-0 Be6 is double-edged.

15. 0-0
So White is now ready to play Ne4.

15...Qb6
This is Fritz and Kamsky's first choice but I am sure that 15...Kb8 is equally as
good, for example 16.Ne4 Na5!?

16.Ne4

16...Nf5
16...Nd5!? was played by Kamsky, sacrificing a second pawn which is interesting,
but 16...Nf5 is safer and looks about equal. Play could continue:

17.g4!?
This is obviously risky but otherwise it is hard to find a plan for White.

17...Nce7 18.Kh1? Bc6!


Black is clearly better particularly as all of his pieces are starting to come to life.

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French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Theory D: 13.h4
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 Qc7

8.Qxg7
8.Bd3 cxd4 9.Ne2 dxc3 10.Qxg7 Rg8 11.Qxh7 Qxe5 12.Bf4 Qf6 13.h4 Rxg2!
14.Kf1 e5! 15.Kxg2 exf4 16.Qh5 Nbc6 17.Qf3 Ng6 offers Black fine compensation
for the exchange.

8...Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2


10.Kd1 Nbc6 11.Nf3 dxc3 12.Ng5 Qxe5 13.Qxf7+ Kd7 isn't dangerous for Black.

10...dxc3 11.f4 Nbc6 12.Qd3


12.h4 Bd7 13.Rh3 000 14.Rxc3 Nf5 15.Qh5 d4 16.Rd3 Nce7! 17.Bb2 Nd5
18.Rc1 Bc6 19.g3 Rh8 shows what can happen when White neglects his
development.

12...d4

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13.h4!?
A straightforward approach!! This has only been played twice and has scored
2/2 for White. This is the move that I would recommend White plays, as it
certainly looks dangerous for Black. I am now going to recommend a new
move.
Another possibility is 13.Rb1 This was Judit Polgars choice in this opening and
the position will often transpose to 13.Ng3 here. 13...Bd7 This keeps things
simple. 13...Nf5 is the most natural move and it may be playable but White can
now play 14.Ng3! which is a bit annoying for Black. 14.Ng3 000 15.Be2 15.Ne4
allows 15...Nf5. 15...Na5!? An interesting novelty. 16.Qxd4 If White does not play
this then Black gets a chance to play 16.Ne4 Bc6! which is fine for Black. 16...Bb5
17.Qf2 Bxe2 18.Qxe2 Nc4 A very strong piece. 19.Ne4 Nf5 with good
compensation for Black.

13...b6!?

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The light-squared bishop is best placed on b7 or a6 from where it puts pressure
on White's centre. White's h-pawn is going to be dangerous though. The
position is unclear. 13...Bd7 is where Black normally puts his bishop but it is
rather passive on this square.

14.h5 Bb7 15.h6 000 16.h7 Rh8 17.Ng3! Nd5 18.Ne4 Nxe5!
This typical sacrifice again.

19.fxe5 Qxe5

With a very unclear position that needs practical tests.

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French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Theory D: 11.Bf4
A line which I consider to be playable for White and one which has not been
tried or explored too often is with Bf4 as opposed to pawn f4 to defend Whites
e-pawn. It is often the case that such minority variations can catch out the
unprepared player so it would be remiss of me not to look at some of the
possibilities arising after this move. If met correctly it should not pose Black any
significant problems.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 Qc7
8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 dxc3 11.Bf4

11...Nbc6
The most natural reply.

12.Qd3
White can also play 12.h4 but this will almost certainly transpose as white needs
to retreat the queen from h7 sooner rather than later.

12...Bd7

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Depending on what White plays Black can consider either 0-0-0 (which would
be my preferred option) or playing Rc8 leaving his king in the centre.

13.Qxc3
13.Nxc3?! has been played here on more than one occasion but is an error as
Black can reply with 13...Nxe5! and meet 14.Qe3 with 14...Nd3+!

13...000 14.h4 d4 15.Qc5

In this position Black has normally played 15...Be8 but I like 15...b6 which can
lead to the following line: 16.Qc4 Ng6 17.Bg5 Ngxe5! 18.Qa6+ Kb8 19.Bxd8 Rxd8

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To my knowledge this position has not arisen in high level chess but I would
evaluate it as better for Black. Despite giving up an exchange Blacks central
pawn superiority, well placed pieces and the undeveloped and unconnected
nature of Whites pieces means Black should have better prospects.

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French Winawer: Main Line: 7.Qg4: Quiz
1. Q. White has chosen to play 13.Rb1. What is Blacks important move to
meet this in the most active manner?

A. 13...d4 is a very important idea in these positions for Black. By


sacrificing another pawn he ensures strong activity. It is essential to
counter Whites kingside majority by striking back in the centre - an idea
we should all have learnt some time ago in our formative chess years.

2. Q. White has just played 18.Bd3, which although looking natural, gives
Black the opportunity of a strong reply. What continuation is best?

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A. 18...Rxd3! is easily the strongest move. Despite already being a pawn
down Black uses the sledgehammer approach to great effect. This is
already a very difficult position to defend for White.
3. Q. In this theoretical position more than one White player has gone
wrong with 15.Rb1. Why is this inaccurate and what move prevents
Blacks best response?

A. 15.Rb1 is strongly met by the sacrifice 15...Nxe5! Gaining space and the
initiative with central dominance. White should flick in 15.Nd6+! to
prevent this. Black would naturally play 15...Kb8 when the position
retains a balanced nature with chances for both sides.
4. Q. This is the line with 15.Rg1. Why would the natural looking 15...Bc6?
be an error by Black and what should he play instead?

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A. 15...Bc6? is strongly met by 16.g4! This gains both time and space for
White and forces the well-placed knight on f5 to retreat. 15...Qc6! would
have been Blacks best move when 16.g4 would now be an error by White
(see Question 5).
5. Q. Black has played ...Qc6 and White has continued with g4 immediately.
This can be considered to be an inaccuracy but Black must meet it
exactly. How so?

A. 1...Qe4+! Now if White blocks the check with 2.Qe2 then Black can
either play 2...Qd5 or 2...Qa4. The White queen has been deflected from
the f2-square guarding the rook on g1 so the g4-pawn is pinned and the
f5-knight immune from capture.

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6. Q. White has avoided the loosening g4 by playing the more accurate Bd3.
This is a much better setup for White and Black must play well in order
to avoid a poor position. What should Blacks general idea be and what
move should be played?

A. Black should take full control of the light squares by playing 1...Qd5
and normally following up with ...Bc6. Blacks control over the light
squares can cause white problems so Bxf5, although breaking up Blacks
pawns, should in no way be feared.
7. Q. White has avoided committing to Rb1 or Rg1 with Ng3, a move which
should be respected. What is Whites plan and how should Black meet
this?

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A. Whites main hope is to play Ng3-e4-d6+ taking advantage of the
fantastic outpost on d6. 1...Bd7 does not prevent the knight hopping into
d6 but it will ensure that this does not leave the Black king stranded in the
centre by means of ...0-0-0 followed by ...Kb8 and (if required) ...Ka8 for
added security.

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Chapter 6: French Tarrasch: Introduction: White Plays f4

Introduction
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2

This is the starting position of the French Tarrasch. My main recommendation


against this move is 3...Nf6 but there are other perfectly reasonable responses,
most notably 3...c5.
I have played 3...c5 on occasions but my personal experience is that White can
gain a comfortable advantage against this move. For this reason I strongly
advise the lines that follow after 3...Nf6.

3... Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4!

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In my opinion this is the most dangerous way of meeting the 3...Nf6 Tarrasch.
White gets a grip on the centre and kingside and Black has to be careful that he
does not get suffocated.

5...c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3 cxd4


7...Qb6 8.a3! a5 9.b3 keeps Black's queenside expansion in check.

8.cxd4

8...a5!?
Moskalenkos suggestion.

9.Bd3

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Key Point!
The main move to watch out for in this position is Whites f4-f5 advance.
White often relies on this move to start an attack, so Black has to constantly be
aware of this move.

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Key Game 1: Hansen,V - Bunzmann, D
Bad Wiessee, 2000

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3 cxd4
8.cxd4 a5!? 9.Bd3

9...Nb6
9...a4 immediately is a move which I prefer and this will be looked at in more
detail later.

10.Ne2 Bd7 11.00 a4 12.Ng3

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Key Point!
White is preparing for the f5 advance. Make sure that you either stop this
move or you are well prepared for it!

12...g6!
Black chooses the safest and arguably best response. By playing 12...g6 black
prevents the f5 advance and questions the white manoeuvre of Ne2-g3.

13.Bd2 Nb4 14.Be2


14.Bb1 allows Bb5, finding an active diagonal.

14...a3 15.b3

15...Nc8!
Now that Black has weakened the c3-square he moves his pieces towards it.
Whites position is very playable here but he immediately goes wrong and the
position rapidly goes downhill.

16.Bxb4?
It is understandable that white exchanges his dark-squared bishop. On face
value this is his poor bishop as it is on the same colour as his pawns on d4, e5
and f4. The exchange is very poorly timed as it actually allows Black to put
tremendous pressure on Whites dark squares and in particular the backward
pawn on d4.
White could have considered sacrificing the f-pawn by playing 16.f5 which
would have opened up a diagonal for his dark-squared bishop. Play may have
continued 16...exf5 16...gxf5? allows 17.Nh5! 17.Bg5 Be7 18.Bh6 when Blacks king
will be stuck in the centre, albeit fairly safely, with a balanced position.

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16...Bxb4 17.Rc1 Na7!? 18.Ne1 Qb6

19.Qd3 Nb5 20.Nf3 00 21.Rfd1 Rfc8

White is clearly worse here. 22.Qe3 would have been a way to grovel on but
Black is very much on top and the opening must be considered a success.

22.Kh1? Nc3 23.Rd2 Nxe2 24.Rxc8+ Rxc8 25.Rxe2 Bb5 01

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Key Game 2: Mongontuul, B - Benitah, Y
Moscow, 2004

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Nc6
8.Ndf3 a5 9.Bd3 Nb6

10.a3
White chooses to play a3 himself. This reinforces his control of the queenside
dark-squares and obviously prevents Black from marching his a-pawn to a3
creating weaknesses in Whites position, which was so successful in the previous
game.

10...a4

Key Point!
In contrast to the previous game Black now focuses his attentions to the
weakened light-squares on the White queenside. Both c4 and b3 look
attractive outposts for the black knights.

11.Ne2
11.Bc2!? Nc4! 12.Ne2 b5 cements the knight on c4.

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11...Na5 12.00 g6!

Key Point!
Prophylaxis against the white thrust f5. An important recurring theme.

13.Rb1 Bd7 14.g4


This is a better plan than Ng3. White needs to force through f5.

14...Qc7!?
Black has an interesting idea up his sleeve, but it may have been wise to
immediately counter 14.g4 with 14...h5.

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Key Point!
...h5! Remember! When white goes g4 this is often the best way to meet it.

Now 15.f5!? hxg4 16.fxe6 gxf3 17.exd7+ Qxd7 is fine for Black.

15.Ng3 0-0-0!?
The safest part of the board for the king.

16.Qe1?!
16.f5! was much better. White is strongest on the kingside so that is where he
should concentrate his forces. 16...gxf5 17.Ng5!? 17.gxf5 h6 stops White activating
the knight. 17...Be8 18.gxf5 would be a much better continuation and questions
Blacks decision not to play 14...h5.

16...Nbc4

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It was not too late for White to play 17.f5 but Blacks position would still be
better with an interesting line being 17...gxf5 18.Bg5 fxg4! 19.Bxd8 Qxd8 when
despite being an exchange to the good White is already running out of pawns
and control.

17.Bd2 Kb8 18.Bxa5 Nxa5 19.Qf2 Qb6 20.Kg2 Nb3 21.Bc2 Bb5
22.Rfd1 Rc8 23.Nf1 h5 24.g5 Be7

The opening has been a success. Black has stopped White's counterplay on the
kingside and he has control of the queenside. Black now converts his advantage
very smoothly without risk but does miss a tactical coup on move 28.

25.Ne3 Rc7 26.Bxb3 axb3 27.Rbc1 Rhc8 28.Qd2

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28...Ba6
A comfortable choice but Black could have put White in trouble with 28...Rxc1
29.Rxc1 Bxa3! winning the a3 pawn as 30.bxa3 fails to 30...Rxc1 31. Qxc1 b2
32.Qxb2 Bf1+ winning Whites queen. However, overlooking this move did not
prevent Black scoring a comfortable win.

29.Rxc7 Rxc7 30.Kg3 Qb5 31.Re1 Rc6 32.Rd1 Bd8 33.Qf2 Ba5
34.Kh4 Qe2 35.Rf1

35...Rc2!
This is a very practical choice and makes Blacks position incredibly easy to
play.

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36.Nxc2 bxc2 37.Qxe2 Bxe2 38.Rc1 Bxf3 39.Rxc2 Be1+ 40.Kh3 b6
41.b3 Kb7 42.b4 Be4 43.Re2 Bc3 44.Kg3 Bxd4 45.h3 b5 46.Ra2 Be3
47.Re2 d4 01

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French Tarrasch: Introduction: White Plays f4: Theory A: 8 a5
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3 cxd4
8.cxd4 a5!?

9.Bd3!
This has to be the best move. White often has to wait a while to play this move
as Black's queen is often on b6 and the d4-pawn would now be targeted.
1. 9.a4? Black can now transpose back to another variation by playing
9...Qb6 9...f6!? is also interesting. White can get into a lot of trouble
quickly, for example 10.Ne2 f6 11.g3 Bb4+ 12.Kf2 fxe5 13.fxe5 Ndxe5
winning a pawn.
2. 9.Ne2?! It makes little sense developing this knight before the light-
squared bishop. 9...Nb6 9...a4!? as in the main line is of course still
possible. 10.Nc3 Bd7 11.Bd3 a4 12.00 Be7 13.Kh1 h5 14.Qe2 g6 Black has
stopped White's play on the kingside for the time being so now he can
concentrate on attacking White on the queenside.

9...a4

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White has a decision to make now. Should he stop the pawn with a3 or let it
reach a3? Both plans allow weaknesses to be created, either on the light-squares
or the dark-squares. 9...Nb6 is more common but it will often lead to the same
thing.

10.Ne2
I think that it is better for White to allow Black to play ...a3. The weaknesses on
the dark-squares seem less severe.
10.a3 Nb6

White now has two choices:


1. 11.Ne2 Na5 12.00 g6! We saw this in the introductory game.

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2. 11.Nh3 Na5 One of the reasons I like...a5 is that the ideas are very easy to
learn and understand. 12.00 Nb3 13.Rb1 Nc4 Blacks opening has been a
success.

10...Nb6 11.0-0
Now Black has a decision to make.

11...Be7
It is a good idea for Black to cover some kingside squares before proceeding on
the queenside. The bishop covers g5 from e7. 11...Bd7 12.g4 g6 13.f5! is very
dangerous for Black, but 11...h5!? is an interesting idea, as is 11...g6!?.

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12.g4!
This is the only move that Black needs to be afraid of. For example 12.Nc3 Bd7
13.Be3 Nb4 14.Bb1 a3 15.b3 Rc8 and Black had good play in Papp-Spence,
Gibraltar 2009.

12...h5
Key Point!

This is often the best way to meet g4. Black aims to open the h-file giving the
rook on h8 life.

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13.gxh5 Rxh5 14.Ng3! Rh8 15.f5 Nc4 16.fxe6 Bxe6 17.Nf5 Bf8

Black has a solid position and White may find that he is actually over-extended
on the kingside.

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French Tarrasch: Introduction: White Plays f4: Theory B: 6.Ngf3
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Ngf3!?

With this move White wants to control d4 with a knight. When Black captures
on d4 then White is planning to recapture with a piece. 6.Ndf3 was covered in
the key games.

6...Nc6
Logically increasing the pressure on d4.

7.Nb3!?
Played recently by Malakhov. White is trying to force Black to close the centre
with ...c4 when he will have a free hand on the kingside. Alternatives:
1. 7.c3 a5! White was planning to play Nb3 so Black prepares for that plan.
Smagin-Kinderman, Bundesliga, 1997 now continued 8.Bb5 Qb6 9.Qa4
cxd4 10.cxd4 Ndb8 11.Qb3 Bd7 12.Bxc6 Qxc6 Black was at least equal.
2. 7.Bd3!? Qb6 8.dxc5 8.c4 cxd4 9.cxd5 Nc5! Is hard to meet. 8...Nxc5 9.Nb3
Nxd3+ 10.Qxd3 Nb4 11.Qe2 Forster-Hertneck, Credis, 1997 now
continued 11...Qa6 with safe equality for Black.

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7...f6!
I like this active solution. Black is fighting against White's dark squares in the
centre. 7...c4 is rather obliging to White's plan.

8.exf6
8.c4!? fxe5 9.dxe5 Nb6 is unclear.

8...Qxf6 9.Be3 Bd6 10.g3 cxd4 11.Nbxd4 e5!? 12.fxe5 Ndxe5

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This position is something of a mess but Black is not worse.

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French Tarrasch: Introduction: White Plays f4: Quiz
1. Q. White has just played Ng3 which supports the advance f5. What is
Blacks best reply?

A. 1...g6 should definitely be played. Not only does this prevent Whites
advance, it also questions the positioning of Whites knight on g3.
2. Q. In response to Black playing ...a3 White has responded with b3. This
weakens the c3-square which Black should target. What should Blacks
first move be to reroute a piece to target this square?

A. 1...Nc8! Whites pawn move b3 prevents the knight moving into a4 or


c4 so its pretty useless on b6. Black begins a rerouting of this knight via
c8-a7-b5 and then potentially into c3.

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3. Q. White has played a3 preventing the Black pawn from reaching this
square. What should Black play now?

A. 1...a4! This is consistent. Black switches his attention to the weakened


light squares of c4 and b3. These will make beautiful outposts for his
knights.
4. Q. White has played g4 in order to assist in the advance f5. How can
Black immediately question the soundness of this idea?

A. 1...h5! This threatens to open up Whites king. Now 2.g5 by White


would be an error shutting down all his lines of attack on the kingside and
leaving Black dominating the queenside. If White continues with 2.f5
then 2...hxg4 will lead to an interesting position with Whites king
dangerously exposed.

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5. Q. In this line White has opted for an early Nd2-b3. This gives Black a
decision, but is it better to play 1...c4 or 1...f6?

A. I strongly recommend playing 1...f6! This is consistent with our tenet


of challenging Whites centre. 1...c4 is not a disaster but it very much
plays into Whites hands by closing the centre and allowing him free
reign on the kingside.

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Chapter 7: French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2

Introduction
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2
In this chapter we will consider variations where White develops his kings
knight to e2.

3...Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2

This is the most common way of meeting the Tarrasch, so Black needs to be
well prepared for it. White wants to bring his d2 knight to f3 so that d4 is over-
defended. This makes sense as d4 often tends to be White's weak point so it is
natural to defend it robustly.

Key Point!
Blacks counterplay relies on the ...f6 break so it is critical to play this move at
the earliest opportunity.

7...cxd4 8.cxd4 f6!

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This is the starting point to this chapter. Black often takes a rather suspect pawn
structure in exchange for active pieces. Lets take a deeper look at the position
after:

9.exf6 Nxf6 10.00 Bd6 11.Nf3 Qc7 12.Bg5 00

Key Points!
It is critical to remember the ...Nh5 manoeuvre in this variation.
In a number of the key lines black will sacrifice the exchange with ...Rxf3.

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Key Game 1: Emms, J - Williams, S.
4NCL, 1999

The Tarrasch is a very popular line and I seem to come across it on a regular
basis so it is important to know how to respond to 3.Nd2. There are two main
ways of meeting this move. Black's main responses are either 3...c5 or 3...Nf6. I
have always played 3...Nf6 as it offers a more exciting game with good winning
chances. On the other hand 3...c5 is a more boring move where Black is often
forced to defend a slightly worse position.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2


With this move White wishes to keep the tension in the centre. Compared to
3.Nc3, 3...Bb4 is now pointless as White will just answer with c3 which attacks
Black's bishop and helps defend the centre. On the downside for White he has
blocked his dark-squared bishop and in a number of cases White's can
sometimes look rather clumsy on d2.

3...Nf6
This move sensibly develops a piece and puts pressure on White's centre. This
is different to the Winawer as White can often play Bg5 pinning the knight in
that variation. That is obviously not possible here. 3...c5 and 3...Be7 are the main
alternatives but we will stick with 3...Nf6.

4.Bd3
This move gives Black more options but the position will normally arrive at the
same thing. 4.e5 is a more common approach when we are back in the game
after 4...Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5.

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4...c5
I prefer to keep things simple by playing this move which keeps the number of
variations that I have to learn to a minimum but 4...dxe4 5.Nxe4 is also possible.

5.e5 Nfd7
We have arrived back at the main line.

6.c3
You should be used to what both sides are planning by now. They are basically
following typical French strategies but even at the risk of repetition it is worth
highlighting these.
White will primarily try and hold his pawn formation together whilst Black will
aim to attack it. White can aim to hold his d4-e5 pawns together in 2 ways:
1. With his f-pawn. This can move to f4 giving extra protection to e5.
2. With his pieces by developing quickly and try to protect e5 with his
knights.
Black on the other hand must rely on the move ...f6 to attack White's pawn
formation.

6...Nc6
Attacking d4.

7.Ne2
Defending d4. This is the main line and White's most popular move. White now
plans on bringing his other knight from d2 to f3.

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7...cxd4

Key Point!
It is important to capture here before playing ...f6.

7...f6?! immediately is actually a mistake as White can play 8.Nf4! If Black had
exchanged on d4 he would now be able to play 8...Nxd4 but this is not possible
anymore. Black is now forced to play a move like 8...Qe7 which is not ideal as it
blocks the dark-squared bishop.

8.cxd4

8...f6!

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A very important move in most lines of the French Defence. Black must attack
White's strong pawn formation.

9.exf6
White can also play:
1. 9.Nf4 This line is meant to be about equal, for example 9...Nxd4 10.Qh5+
Ke7 This looks very scary but if Black can capture the centre then his king
will be very safe. 11.exf6+ Nxf6 12.Ng6+ hxg6 13.Qxh8 Kf7 with an
interesting battle ahead. Black has good compensation for the exchange.
He has a strong centre and White's queen can be out of play.
2. 9.f4? is a mistake now as Black has a combination that nets a pawn.
9...fxe5 10.fxe5 10.dxe5 Nc5 looks very comfortable for Black. As soon as
he can move his pieces to c5 Blacks position should be ok. 10...Nxd4!
11.Nxd4 Qh4+ when Black is clearly better.

9...Nxf6

The exchange on f6 has helped Black. For a start Black has more space to move
his pieces to, and in the long run the open f-file can also come in useful (look at
how the game develops).

10.Nf3
The natural square for White's knight. On f3 the knight overprotects d4 which
can be useful. The dark-squared bishop on c1 can also now enter the game.

10...Bd6
The best square for Black's dark-squared bishop. On d6 it covers e5 which could
become a weakness. It also targets h2, and when White castles Black could try to
start an attack.

11.0-0

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This has been the starting point for a large number of games. It is rather a
critical moment as both sides have played fairly obvious and forcing moves so
far. We should take a time out to have a look at what both sides are planning
here.
White's plan:
1. Black's pawn formation is somewhat damaged and White would like to
take control of e5 at a later point. The e5-square is especially important if
White is able to anchor a piece there. Black wont be able to kick it away
with a pawn (...f7-f6 or ...d7-d6) as his pawns have gone.
2. White will often try to attack Black's backward pawn on e6, i.e. with Re1.
3. White will try to exchange dark-squared bishops. The next few moves
often revolve around this plan. If White can achieve this he has more
control of the e5-square and Black will lose one of his best defensive
pieces.
4. Sometimes White will play Bb5 and swap on c6. Again this gives White
more control of the e5-square.
5. White may aim to control the c-file.

Black's plan:
1. Black often aims to go all out with an attack against White's king.
2. To attack White's king Black will often aim to sacrifice the exchange on
f3. This shatters White's pawn formation and opens up the king.
3. Black's knight on f6 sometimes tries to relocate to f4 via h5. This
performs two functions: it opens up the rook on f8 and f4 is a more
aggressive square.
4. Black's light-squared bishop often takes the path d7-e8-h5 to enter the
attack.
5. Sometimes Black plays ...e5 to free up his pieces. You should not be in a
rush to play this move though.
6. ...g6 and ...Qg7 is a good plan to potentially increase the pressure on d4
and remove the Queen from the c-file.

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Lets now move onto the game.

11...Qc7
I prefer to play this move. Black stops White from exchanging dark-squared
bishops and piles up the pressure on h2.

12.Bg5
This is White's main move and is played in the majority of games. White will
often continue with Bh4 and Bg3 aiming to swap off dark-squared bishops.
12.g3 is another option. Again White's plan here is to exchange dark-squared
bishops by playing Bf4. The problem with this move though is that it does
weaken White's kingside, especially the light squares. I would recommend
playing 12...00 13.Bf4 Ng4!? This is an interesting plan. Black is aiming to
sacrifice the exchange on f4, for example 14.Rc1 Bxf4 15.Nxf4 Rxf4 16.gxf4
Qxf4 with an unclear position.

12...0-0 13.Bh4

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White is intending to play Bg3, exchanging bishops. This would clearly help
White. How can Black stop this plan?
13.Rc1 has become quite popular recently. I would recommend 13...h6!? This
weakens the light squares around Blacks king but it is an aggressive move that
forces White to make a decision. 14.Bh4 Nh5! Black is now planning ...Rxf3 ...g5
etc.

13...Nh5!

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Key Point!
This is a very good reply and a move that is well worth remembering. It aims
to meet Bg3 with ...Nxg3 which retains Black's dark-squared bishop (Black's
best minor piece). It also prepares ...Rxf3.

14.Qc2
Attacking Black on the light squares.

14...h6
14...g6? would be the move that Black would like to play. It blunts Whites
pressure on the light squares but it is a blunder here as White can play 15.Bxg6!
hxg6 16.Qxg6+ Ng7 17.Ng5 with a decisive attack.

15.Bh7+
This forces Black's king to h8 which is a worse square than g8. This might not be
apparent now but at a later point the king on g8 does a good job of defending
the f-file.
15.Bg6 is also possible but Black should respond in a similar fashion to the game
and play 15...Rxf3! with good play.
15.Bg3 is equal after 15...Nxg3 16.hxg3 g5 16...a6!? first may even be better. With
this move Black wants to stop White from playing Bb5 and exchanging the
bishop for the knight. 17.Bb5 Ne5!? and Black should have no problems after the
queen exchange.

15...Kh8 16.Bg6

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16...Rxf3!
Black must play as aggressively as possible and this standard motif is good here.

17.gxf3
17.Bxh5!? is what White often plays nowadays. This is an attempt at gaining a
small but steady advantage. I would recommend continuing in sacrificial spirit
with 17...Bxh2+!? 18.Kh1 Rf5 19.Bg6 Bd6 20.Bxf5 exf5 with an unclear game.
Black wants to continue ...Qf5-h5 and ...f4 etc.

17...Bxh2+ 18.Kh1 Nf4


The position is very complex but I prefer Blacks chances.

19.Ng3

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White can also try:
1. 19.Kxh2 when a sensible idea is 19...Nxg6+ 20.Bg3 Qf7 and again Black
has good attacking chances on the kingside. There is no rush here - Black
should play ...Bd7 and ...Rf8 before attacking but I like his chances here.
2. 19.Nxf4 Bxf4 offers Black very good chances, for example 20.Rad1 Bd7
21.a3 Rf8 22.Rg1 Qd6 Black is better.

19...Qd6!
At the time this move was a novelty and it is still a strong move. The position
can not really be explained with words, only with pure calculation. Lets just say
that this move allows the Black knight on c6 to move (now the queen is
unpinned) and it also threatens ...e5! Black is doing well!

20.Rad1
Trying to defend everything.
The most critical response was 20.Kxh2 when White accepts the sacrificed
material but he is in serious trouble after 20...Nxd4, for example 21.Qd1 Nxg6
21...e5!? 22.Qxd4 e5! 23.Qa4 Bd7 when White's bishop on h4 drops.

20...e5!
This move frees Blacks position.

21.Bf5
The best try. After 21.Kxh2 Nxg6 Black is winning.

21...Bxf5 22.Qxf5
The only move. 22.Nxf5? Qg6 is winning for Black.

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22...Rf8
I am still doing well after this but there was a significantly better move.
22...Nxd4! would have left me with a great position, for example:
1. 23.Rxd4 exd4 24.Kxh2 Rf8 25.Qb1 Qe6! mating soon.
2. 23.Qg4 g5 24.Kxh2 24.Bxg5 hxg5 25.Qxg5 Nxf3 26.Qg4 Bxg3 and ...Qh6+
will be the end. 24...gxh4 25.Nf5 Nxf5 26.Qxf5 Rf8 and Blacks advantage
is obvious.

23.Qg4

23...Bxg3?!
Another slight mistake, White is fine after this move.

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I could have played 23...g5! when the lines work out in my favour, for example
24.Kxh2 gxh4 25.Qxh4 Nxd4+
23...Nxd4! would have been difficult to spot but is arguably best with 24.Kxh2
Ng6 threatening the devastating 25...Rf4 picking up the bishop on h4.

24.fxg3 Ne6
I was relying on White's bishop on h4 being trapped but White finds a way out.

25.dxe5 Nxe5 26.Qh5


Stopping ...g5.

26...d4 27.Be7! Qxe7 28.Qxe5


White is over the worst and could even be better if I am not careful.

28...Qd7 29.g4 d3 -

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A draw was agreed in a fairly equal position, not a bad result for me at the time.
We can see that this opening offers some very interesting attacking chances for
Black, but it is complicated and I would recommend that you take a look at
more games to get a genuine feel for the variation.

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Key Game 2: Persson, A - Berg, E
Stockholm, 2006

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4
8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.00 Bd6 11.Nf3 Qc7 12.Bg5 00

13.Rc1
Evidently White didn't want to take part in a theoretical duel with his opponent,
but this move isn't as challenging for Black to face as 13.Bh4 Nh5 14.Qc2 or
14.Nc3 a6 15.Rc1.

13...h6

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Immediately putting the question to the White bishop. I like this simple
approach. Another possibility was 13...Nh5 14.Nc3 a6 15.Bh4 g6. Instead the
Swedish GM takes the chance to activate his kingside pawns and secure the g7
square for his queen.

14.Bd2
After 14.Bh4 we will revert to the move 14...Nh5! as it secures the exchange of
White's important dark-squared bishop for a knight. 15.Bg3 With the black
pawn on h6 rather than h7, Black can answer 15.Qc2 with 15...g5! 15...Nxg3
16.Nxg3 a6! Not letting White gain control of the e5-square with a general
scheme of Bb5, Bxc6, Re1 and Ne5, when the value of the bishop on d6 would
be diminished. 17.Bb1 g5! 18.Qd3 Qf7 The careless 18...Qg7 would allow White to
activate his knight on g3 with 19.Nh5 Qf7 20.Nf6+! Kh8 Of course, mate on h7
makes the knight immune. 21.Ng4 and the white knight is attacking h6 and in
touch with the key e5-square. 19.Rce1 Bd7 20.a3 Kh8 21.Re2 Rg8 22.Rfe1 Rg7
23.b4 Rf8 24.Rb2 Bb8 25.Qe3 Bf4 26.Qd3 g4 27.Ne5 Nxe5 28.dxe5 h5 29.Qd4
Bh6 30.Bd3 h4 and Black gradually wore down his opponent's position in
Bruned, Y - Bhat, V Andorra la Vella 2006.

14...a6!

Key Point!
Stop Bb5!

15.Ng3 g5! 16.Re1 Qg7!

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The black queen finds a safe square away from the attentions of the white rook
on the c-file. On g7 she puts potential pressure on d4 and bolsters the squares
that the black kingside pawns have left undefended in their advance.

17.Bb1 Ng4 18.Qc2 Bxg3!

This exchange may seem surprising in view of what we have said about the
importance of Black's dark-squared bishop. However, it increases the overall
efficiency of the black pieces, while diminishing that of the white pieces. After
White recaptures with 19.hxg3, he no longer has an h-pawn to drive back the
black knight from g4. The knight is thus cemented on a post that over hangs the
white king's defences. Furthermore, the removal of the h2-pawn increases
Black's attacking options - the move Qh5 might be on the cards in the future.

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More generally speaking, in the Bruned - Bhat game in the note above, you may
recall that Black avoided Qg7 due to the reply Nh5. Here Berg has put the queen
on the ideal g7-square, but for her comfort it is good that the white knight is
eliminated before it can think about going to h5.

19.hxg3 Bd7 20.b4 Rf6 21.a4

21...b5!

Key Point!
Here, as so often in the 3...Nf6 Tarrasch, the c6-square is a fine post for the
black knight. It should be jealously guarded hence Berg prevents 22.b5.

22.axb5 axb5 23.Qc5 Qf7 24.Qb6

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24...Rf8
Much simpler was 24...Qh5! which exploits the open h-file discussed at move 18.
White has no defence: 25.Rxc6 If 25.Rc3 Raf8 [threatening 26...Rxf3. A typical
computer move is] 25.Bg6!? but after 25...Qxg6 26.Rxc6 Bxc6 27.Qxc6 Qe8 Black
is the exchange up for nothing. 25...Rxf3 26.gxf3 Qh2+ 27.Kf1 Qxf2#

25.Be3 Rxf3 26.gxf3 Qxf3

27.Rc2?
White misses his chance. 27.Qc7! defends g3 from afar, and introduces the
threat of 28.Qxd7 - to be followed by 29.Qh7 mate if allowed. 27...Nxf2 or
27...Nxe3 28.fxe3 and Black's attack is sufficient for only a draw. 28.Bxf2 Qxf2+
29.Kh1 just about keeps White in the game but Black is still on top.

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27...Nxe3 28.Rxe3 Qd1+ 29.Kg2 Nxd4 30.Rc7 Qd2 31.Bh7+ Kxh7
32.Rxd7+ Kg8

33.Rf3?
The last real fighting chance was 33.Re2!? Qxe2 Definitely not 33...Nxe2??
34.Qxe6+ and White mates. 34.Qxd4 Qf3+ 35.Kg1 Qf6 but Black should win
comfortably with his extra pawns.
The game is now effectively over.

33...Rxf3 34.Rd8+

34...Rf8

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Black could have played 34...Kf7 which leads to mate but Berg with an
overwhelming material advantage takes the most relaxed route.

35.Rxf8+ Kxf8 36.Qd8+ Kf7 37.Qd7+ Kf6 38.Qd8+ Kf7 39.Qd7+ Kf6
40.Qd8+ Ke5 41.Qh8+ Ke4 42.Qh7+ Nf5 43.g4 Qf4 44.gxf5 Qg4+
45.Kf1 Qh3+ 46.Ke2 Qd3+ 47.Ke1 Kf3! 0-1

Its mate on e2.

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French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2: Theory A: 11..Qc7 12.Bg5 0-0
13.Bh4
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4
8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Nf3 Bd6 11.00 Qc7 12.Bg5 00 13.Bh4

This used to be old the main line. White wants to exchange off the dark-squared
bishops. Black should make White's life difficult in this process.

13...Nh5! 14.Qc2
Creating some light square weaknesses around Black's kingside.
14.Bg3 Nxg3 15.hxg3 g6! So the queen can switch to g7. Black is doing fine here.
For example 16.Rc1 a6! 17.a3 Qg7 18.Bb1 Bd7 19.Qd2 Rf6 20.Rc3 Raf8 21.Re3
Bb8 22.Nh2 g5! and Black is very active.
14.Nc3 a6 15.Qc2 Rxf3! 16.gxf3 Nxd4 is very dangerous for White.

14...h6
14...g6? 15.Bxg6 hxg6 16.Qxg6+ Ng7 17.Ng5+-

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15.Bh7+
It is a good idea for White to force Black's king to h8 in a number of variations.
15.Bg6 Rxf3 16.gxf3 Bxh2+ 17.Kg2 17.Kh1 Nf4 18.Ng3 Nxg6 19.Qxg6 Bxg3 20.fxg3
Qf7 21.Qxf7+ Kxf7= White is unable to both defend the d4-pawn and save th eh4-
bishop. 17...Nf4+ 18.Nxf4 Bxf4 19.Rad1 Bd7 20.a3 b6 21.Rfe1 Qd6 Black has full
compensation for the exchange.

15...Kh8 16.Bg6 Rxf3

17.Bxh5
17.gxf3 Bxh2+ 18.Kh1 18.Kg2 Nf4+ 19.Nxf4 [19.Kxh2 Nxg6+ 20.Bg3 Qf7] 19...Bxf4
again with good compensation. 18...Nf4 19.Ng3 Qd6 was looked at in the
introduction. Black is doing well here.

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17...Bxh2+!?
This leads to an interesting exchange sacrifice.

18.Kh1 Rf5 19.Bg6 Bd6 20.Bxf5 exf5 21.Rae1 Qf7! 22.Bg3! Bb4
22...f4? doesnt work due to 23.Nxf4 Bxf4 24.Bxf4 Qxf4 25.Re8+ and mate next
move.

23.Rc1 Bd7 24.a3

And now Black should play the novelty:

24...Re8! 25.Kg1
25.axb4 Qh5+ 26.Kg1 Qxe2 27.Qxe2 Rxe2 with an equalish endgame.

25...Ba5

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This position although being somewhat unclear is evaluated as totally equal by
the silicon monsters.

French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2: Theory: 11..Qc7 12.Bg5 0-0
13.Rc1
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4
8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Nf3 Bd6 11.00 Qc7 12.Bg5 00 13.Rc1!?

Recently this move has become more popular than 13.Bh4. This is probably due
to Black's exchange sacrifice. 13.Rc1 is a useful waiting move when White has
several ideas:
1. Bb5 followed by Ne5.

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2. Bb1 followed by Qd3.
3. Bh4 and Bg3.

13...h6!?
We had a look at this in the introduction. This is a straightforward approach and
has been favoured by some of the experts in this line, hence why I am
suggesting it.
13...Nh5!? This is an interesting idea in keeping with some of the plans that we
have already looked at. Black is getting ready, in some cases, to sacrifice the
exchange on f3. The other plan is to play ...h6 and ...g5.

14.Bh4

The most testing move.


14.Bd2 was looked at in the introductory game. Black should play 14...a6!

Key Point!
This stops Bb5 when White can try to get a grip on the e5 square. Black is
planning to play ...g5 and ...Qg7 with attacking chances on the kingside.

15.Ng3 g5! A typical move with ...Qg7 to follow.

14...Nh5!
With ...Rxf3 to follow. White should now choose between Bg3 and Bg6.

15.Bg6

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15.Bg3 is safer. 15...Nxg3 16.Nxg3 Qf7 It is always useful bringing the queen over
to the kingside. 17.Qe2 17.Bb1 Bd7 18.Qd3 g5 19.a3 Rae8 20.Rce1 a6 looks fine for
Black. 17...Bd7! I like this simple approach. 18.Bb1 g5 19.Rcd1 Bf4 20.Ne5 Nxe5
21.dxe5 Be8! Black stops Nh5-Nf6+ and is at least equal.

15...Rxf3
The normal reply!

16.gxf3 Bxh2+ 17.Kg2 Nf4+ 18.Nxf4 Bxf4

Black has good compensation for the exchange, as we have seen.

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French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2: Theory C: 11..Qc7 12.g3
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4
8.cxd4 f6 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.Nf3 Bd6 11.00 Qc7 12.g3!?

An attempt at gaining a safe advantage through Bf4. As we have already seen the
exchange of dark-squared bishops is what White wants to achieve. 12.g3 does
have its downsides as well, most notably weakening the light squares around
White's king.

12...0-0 13.Bf4 Ng4!?


I have always been a fan of this move. Black is planning to sacrifice the
exchange again, this time on f4!

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14.Bxd6
The only way to try for an advantage. White's alternative can lead to a draw.
14.Rc1 Bxf4 15.Nxf4 Rxf4! 16.gxf4 Qxf4 17.Bb5! 17.Be2 Nf6! 18.Kh1 Ne4 19.Rc2 e5!
liberating the c8-bishop is very dangerous for White. 17...Bd7 17...Nxd4? 18.Qxd4
Qxf3 19.Rc3! defends. 18.Bxc6 Bxc6 19.Rc3 19.h3 Rf8 20.Rc3 Bb5 21.Re1 Nxf2
22.Kxf2 Qh2+ 23.Ke3 Qf4+ with perpetual! I had this whole thing once before.
19...e5! 19...Bb5? 20.Qc1! forces Black to retreat. 20.dxe5 Nxe5 21.Nxe5 Qxe5
looks like dynamic equality.

14...Qxd6 15.Nc3
This seems to be one of White's safest lines but Black still gets an active and
equal position.

15...e5! 16.dxe5 Qh6!? 17.h4 Ngxe5 18.Nxe5


18.Ng5 d4 19.Nd5 Bg4 20.f3 Nxd3 21.Qxd3 Bf5 is also fine for Black.

18...Nxe5 19.Be2 Be6

Black is better. White's kingside weaknesses are more important than Black's
isolated d-pawn.

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French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2: Theory D: Miscellaneous
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ne2 cxd4
8.cxd4 f6

9.exf6
9.f4?! is better for Black. 9...fxe5 10.fxe5 10.dxe5 Bc5 finds a good diagonal.
10...Nxd4 11.00 11.Nxd4 Qh4+ is just a pawn. 11...Qb6 12.Kh1 Nxe5 13.Nf4 g6
14.Nb3 Nxb3 15.axb3 Bd6 and White has achieved nothing for his two pawns.
9.Nf4!? Black has to be well-prepared against this tricky move. 9...Nxd4 Black
must play without any fear. The play now takes on a forcing nature. 10.Qh5+
Ke7 11.exf6+ Nxf6 12.Ng6+ hxg6 13.Qxh8 Kf7 14.Qh4 e5 15.Nf3 Nxf3+ 16.gxf3
Bf5 17.Bxf5 gxf5 18.Bg5 Qa5+ 19.Kf1 g6! 20.Bxf6 Qa6+ 21.Kg2 Qxf6 22.Qa4 Qc6
23.Qb3 Bh6! I prefer Blacks position and although computers give a roughly
balanced evaluation it would surely only be a computer who would prefer to be
White here.

9...Nxf6 10.Nf3 Bd6 11.Bf4!?

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This is rather underrated in my opinion. Tal has played it. The exchange of
bishops clearly benefits White but it is not too scary for Black. Play might
continue:

11...Bxf4 12.Nxf4 Qa5+! 13.Qd2 Qxd2+ 14.Kxd2 00 15.Rhe1 Ne4+


16.Bxe4 Rxf4 17.Bd3 Bd7 18.Ke3 Raf8

The position is roughly equal.

French Tarrasch: Main Line with 7.Ne2: Quiz

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1. Q. In this position why should Black play 1...cxd4 before ...f6?

A. 1...f6? immediately runs into 2.Nf4! which is big trouble for black.
Look at the next question to see why 1...cxd4 is of vital importance.
2. Q. Black has made the critical capture on d4 before playing ...f6. In reply
White has still continued with Nf4 but the exchange of pawns on d4 has
made a key difference. What is it?

A. Black can now reply with 1...Nxd4! as there is no pawn on c3 defending


this move. Now 2.Qh5+ forces black to play 2...Ke7 but I feel certain that
Blacks position although looking suspect is actually far from that and is
preferable.

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3. Q. White has just voluntarily retreated his bishop to h4 with the intention
of playing Bg3 and exchanging off Blacks dangerous dark-squared
bishop. How should Black disrupt this plan?

A. 1...Nh5 would be my choice here so as to meet with Bg3 with ...Nxg3. It


would also be possible to play 1...Qb6 so as to meet Bg3 with ...Be7
preserving the dark-squared bishop but I much prefer the active 1...Nh5.
4. Q. In this position White has an idea to target the e5-square indirectly.
What is White intending and how should Black prevent it?

A. White is planning Bb5 to undermine the knight on c6 which aids in


the control of e5. Black should definitely play 1...a6 before continuing
operations on the kingside.

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5. Q. Blacks queen on c7 is preventing his c6 knight from moving. 1...Qe7
walks straight into 2.Re1 with the same problem, so what square should
Black put his queen on and how can this be prepared?

A. 1...g5! both prepares to move the queen to g7 (where it supports in the


kingside advance and also targets the weak White pawn on d4) and begins
Blacks kingside initiative.

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Chapter 8: French Tarrasch: Universal System

Introduction
In this chapter we are going to take a look at a slightly different setup from
White. This variation is called the French Tarrasch Universal System and
seems to be rising in popularity. I once played a blitz game against Grischuk
and it was the variation that he chose. It must make some sense if he decided to
use it!
The first key game throws up a number of interesting possibilities and
demonstrates how careful White must be not to fall into a losing position.
However, after analysing this variation more closely I feel that Blacks position
may in fact be somewhat suspect particularly if white either knows or finds
18.Qxg4! For this reason I feel it is critical to update the variation to avoid this.

Key Game 1: Botta, G - Williams, S


Switzerland, 2008

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5


In the previous chapter we looked at a slightly different move order with 4.Bd3
but after 4...c5 5.e5 Nfd7 we reached the same position. Obviously move order
is very important and it will take you a while to get to grips with things but
experience will help you know what you should play.

4...Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5
There is hardly a game in the French where Black avoids playing this move.

6.c3 Nc6 7.Ngf3

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This is the Universal System. In the last game White developed this knight to e2
and the knight on d2 to f3. This appears to make more sense as where does the
knight on d2 go to now? Surprisingly, the knight on d2 will often go back to b1
then c3 (after an exchange on d4). The knight may also go to f1 then e3 and g4,
where it may take part in a kingside attack. Black should change plans here. ...f6
is not needed and instead I am going to recommend a plan based around the
crazy looking ...g5!?

7...Be7
7...f6 is risky due to 8.Ng5!?, a plan that you should keep your eye open for. Lets
take a look: 8...fxg5 9.Qh5+ g6 10.Bxg6+ hxg6 11.Qxg6+ Ke7 12.Ne4! and White
has a big attack. I would prefer to avoid this line.

8.0-0 a5

Time to have a deeper look at the position


White is often happy to sacrifice his pawn on d4 so Black should not be in a
rush to attack this pawn. I like the move 8...a5 as it gains space on the queenside.
One plan behind this move is ...a4 ...a3 and if White responds with b3 then
White has weakened some dark squares on the queenside (c3 in particular). It is
also a good waiting move and I want to encourage White to play his next move.
8...g5!? is possible. I used to play this move here but I believe that it is a bit
premature as White can answer 9.dxc5! If White can open up the centre then
Black's king can become a target. This is why I now prefer to first exchange on
d4 before playing ...g5. At least it tries to keep the centre closed.
8...Qb6 is an option when play often continues 9.dxc5 Nxc5 10.Bc2 resulting in
a different type of game to the one we are going to look at.

9.Re1
White overprotects e5 and makes a route available for his knight on d2, but this
does leave the knight on f3 short of squares.

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9...cxd4
9...g5 allows 10.dxc5! which is a move that I want to avoid. I would prefer to
keep the centre as closed as possible.

10.cxd4

10...g5!
The point behind my previous moves. White's knight on f3 is actually very
unstable as it has no squares to escape to. For this reason I aim to attack it. If the
knight on f3 has to move it will also make White's pawn on d4 weak as it has no
protection. On the downside Black's king now has nowhere safe to move to, so
this is a very double-edged move.

11.h3
This is what White plays in 90% of all examples. Other moves give away the d4
pawn too lightly, for example 11.Nb3 g4 12.Nfd2 a4 13.Nc5 Nxc5 14.dxc5 h5 or
11.Nb1 g4 12.Nfd2 h5.

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11...h5!
The consistent approach. Black must aim to force White's knight away from f3.

12.Nf1
This follows the main variation. Shirov once played 12.g4?! here but it looks like
Black is better after 12...hxg4 13.hxg4 Qb6 14.Qa4 Nf8! when White has
weaknesses on the kingside which Black can aim to exploit.

12...g4 13.hxg4 hxg4 14.N3h2

Another important position where Black has options. White is aiming to keep
his kingside as protected as possible and then to start a counter attack based on
Qxg4-Qg7 etc.

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14...Bb4!
I think that this is the best move. The main idea is to make way for Black's
queen to get to h4 from where it may cause White's king some problems. I first
came across this idea when I was looking at some games and ideas on
ChessBase. This variation was given as bad for Black due to 18.Rxg4, which was
even given a !! in the notes. I then found out to my surprise that Black is doing
very well after 18.Rxg4(!!) Bxh2+, so the original analysis was very bad!

15.Re3
The rook moves around to g3 to give extra protection to White's king.
Another idea was 15.Bd2 when Black should continue 15...Bxd2 16.Qxd2 Nxd4
when the position is about equal, for example 17.Nxg4 Qh4 18.Nfh2 f5!? 19.exf6
Nxf6 with complications.

15...Qh4
I like this simple route one approach. White has to be a bit careful here.

16.Rg3
This is consistent.
A safer option was 16.Qxg4. Exchanging queens makes sense as Black's initiative
on the h-file looks dangerous. 16...Qxg4 17.Nxg4 Nxd4 In general, central pawns
are worth more than pawns on the wings so Black should be doing ok here, for
example 18.Nfh2 I think now Black should start to take aim at White's pawn on
e5 with 18...Nc6! 19.Bb5 a4! This is a good move, Black wants to continue ...Ra5
forcing the bishop on b5 to make up its mind. I would prefer to be Black in this
position.

16...f5
This move aims to force White to play exf6 when the b8-h2 diagonal is opened.

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17.exf6
White can not allow Black's pawn formation to stand on e6, f5 and g4, so this
pretty much forced.

17...Bd6
Black is now doing very well.

18.Rxg4?!
Like I mentioned before this move has been given a double exclamation mark
in past annotations but it is actually a mistake!

18...Bxh2+ 19.Kh1 Qxf2


White's king is in more danger compared to Black's.

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20.Nxh2?
White's best try was 20.f7+ but Black is still doing well after 20...Kxf7 21.Bg6+
Ke7 22.Nxh2 Nf6 23.Bg5 Kd6! Black's king is actually quite safe on d6, as it is
protected by the central pawn formation. Black is better here.

20...Nxf6
Black has a winning position!

21.Bg5
21.Rg6 would allow Black's queen to move to the h-file. 21...Qh4! 22.Qg1 Ng4 is
very nasty.

21...Nxg4 22.Bg6+ Kf8 23.Qxg4


The position may look rather dangerous for Black but after my next move the
dust quickly settles.

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23...e5! 24.Qf3+
24.Qd1 Kg7 doesnt help White.

24...Qxf3 25.gxf3 Nxd4


The rest is easy.

26.Rf1 Ra6 27.Bb1 Bf5 0-1

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French Tarrasch: Universal System: Theory A: 8...a5 9.a4
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ngf3 Be7
8.00 a5 9.a4!

This looks like a much better idea compared to 9.Re1. In a lot of cases Black is
waiting for for White to play Re1 anyway so this move makes a lot more sense.
The pawn on a4 holds up Black's queenside. I have always been most worried
about this move and the fact that Adams and Ni Hua have started to play it
recently speaks volumes.

9...cxd4
Gaining the b4-square.

10.cxd4 Nb4 11.Bb5!

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White's best plan is to fight for the e5-square.
11.Bb1 is less threatening, for example 11...b6! I prefer this to 11...Nb6 finishing
the queenside development. 12.Re1 Bd7 13.Nf1 Rc8 14.b3 Rc6 with a roughly equal
position. 12.Re1 Ba6 13.Nf1 Rc8 14.Ra3 b5! This is a good plan. Black often
struggles to get counterplay in these types of positions but this gives Black's
knight on d7 a good route. 15.axb5 Bxb5 16.h4 Nc6 and Black is doing well.

11...b6!
Black needs to swap off his bad light-squared bishop.

12.Nb1!
A typical plan for this variation. The knight comes around to the better square
c3.

12...Ba6 13.Nc3 00 14.Qe2 Bxb5 15.axb5 Rc8

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Blacks position is ok.

French Tarrasch: Universal System: Theory B: 8...a5 9.Re1


1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.c3 c5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.Ngf3 Be7
8.00 a5 9.Re1

I would consider this the main line as it has been played the most, but I like
Black's chances.

9...cxd4
Before playing ...g5 I prefer capturing on d4. This stops White from capturing
on c5 which would open up the position. It is not a good idea to open up the
position with your king in the centre. 9...g5 10.dxc5!

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10.cxd4 g5

11.h3
White can also try to sacrifice the d-pawn in several ways:
1. 11.Nf1 g4 12.N3d2 h5 13.Nb3 a4 14.Nc5 Nxc5 15.dxc5 Bxc5 16.Be3 Bxe3
17.Nxe3 Qb6 is better for Black.
2. 11.Nb1 g4 12.Nfd2 h5 13.Nc3 Nxd4 14.Nf1 Nc5 15.Bb1 Nc6 16.Bf4 is also
good for Black.
3. 11.Nb3?! g4 12.Nfd2 a4 13.Nc5 Nxc5 14.dxc5 h5 transposes back to 1.

11...h5 12.Nf1 g4 13.hxg4 hxg4 14.N3h2 Bb4 15.Re3


15.Bd2 Bxd2 16.Qxd2 Nxd4 17.Nxg4 Qh4 was looked at in the introductory
game.

15...Qh4 16.Rg3 f5 17.exf6

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17...Nxf6
17...Bd6 can be met by 18.Qxg4! 18.Rxg4 Bxh2+ 19.Kh1 Qxf2 is good for Black.
Take a look at the introductory game. 18...Bxg3 19.Qg6+ Kd8 20.fxg3 Qxd4+
21.Be3 Qxb2 when there are chances for Black but White must be preferred.

Black retains good pressure on the kingside and definitely has a playable game
but there will no doubt be a firmer view established the more this is played. I
strongly believe Black is fine.

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Chapter 9: French Tarrasch: Universal System: Black Fights
Back with 7...g5!

Introduction
As I stated in the opening of this chapter the response to the Universal System
with ...Be7 and ...g5 is coming under increasing pressure. I felt I would be short-
changing readers if I merely glossed over these issues so I have found what I
consider to be a major improvement in this line. The key change is playing ...g5
on move 7! As you will see it actually benefits Black to keep the kings bishop on
f8 where it covers the g7-square and can be developed either to e7 at a later
point or perhaps makes an immediate recapture on c5 if white exchanges here.

Key Game 1: Damaso, R - Agdestein, S


Dos Hermanas, 2004

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.c3 Nc6 7.Bd3

7...g5!? 8.h3 h5 9.Nf1?!


This is already an inaccuracy by White and highlights the importance of precise
play in this challenging line.

9...Rg8! 10.g4?!
This is an overreaction by White which makes Black's position already
preferable. White should have preferred 10.Be3 when the position is roughly
equal.

10...hxg4 11.hxg4 cxd4 12.cxd4 Bb4+ 13.Ke2

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It is not clear to me that this is an error but I feel that 13.Bd2 would have
retained more flexibility for White.

13...f6!
As you should know by now I highly recommend assaulting the White centre at
the earliest opportunity.

14.Rh6?!
This is an understandable choice and a hard move to turn down but it is
tactically unsound as the game will demonstrate.

14...fxe5

15.Rxe6+?

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The natural follow up to 14.Rh6 but Black has everything covered. Whites
position was already highly suspect.

15...Kf7 16.dxe5 Kxe6


Black is already a rook up and despite White having a few checks careful
defence from Black means he can escape these with a clear material plus.

17.Bf5+ Ke7 18.Ne3 Nb6 19.Bxc8 Rxc8 20.Nf5+ Kd7 21.Be3 Kc7
22.a3 Be7 23.b4 Kb8

Black's king is now out of any immediate danger. The extra material quickly
decides the outcome.

24.b5 Na5 25.N3d4 Nac4 26.a4 Nxe3 27.fxe3 Nc4 28.e6 Rh8 29.a5
Rh2+ 30.Kf3 Qh8 31.Qg1 Ne5+ 32.Kg3 Qh3# 01

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Key Game 2: Fedorchuk, S - Berg, E
Maastricht, 2010

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Ngf3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Bd3 g5
8.00 g4 9.Ne1 h5

This is consistent with 8...g4 but as we will see in the game it gives White an
opportunity to reorganise his pieces to support the d4 pawn. 9...cxd4 This will
be my recommendation and will be looked at in the theory section.

10.Nc2 Qb6 11.Re1 cxd4 12.cxd4

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12...a5?!
This proves to be a mistake that seriously weakens the b5-square which
Fedorchuk immediately targets to great effect. 12...Nxd4 As I will point out in
the theory section this would have been a more effective idea earlier but it was
Black's best chance here. Play may continue as follows: 13.Nxd4 Qxd4 14.Nb3
Qa4 15.Bc2 Black is still in the game but I cannot bring myself to say that I like
his position. White is well-developed and organised and Black must play
carefully here to avoid being quickly overrun.

13.Nb1!
This is an excellent move targeting the b5 square which can no longer be
defended by ...a6. This idea casts serious doubt over 12...a5. The game
continuation demonstrates that Black's position is questionable at best.

13...Ndb8 14.Nc3 Bd7 15.a3 a4 16.Bg5 Na5 17.Nb4


White has played a series of logical moves. He is well developed and Black's
pieces are underdeveloped and poorly co-ordinated. It would have been
necessary to play 17...Bxb4 but this is another concession which favours white.
The game continuation once again demonstrates why Black must find
improvements earlier.

17...Nb3? 18.Nbxd5!
A tactical breakthrough. White's subsequent attack is irresistible.

18...exd5 19.e6! Bxe6 20.Nxd5 Qa5 21.Nf6+ Kd8 22.Re5 Qa7 23.d5
Bd7

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24.d6
24.Qc2 would have won more quickly for white but this is overly critical and in
fairness all roads lead to Rome, which in this case is 10.

24...Qd4 25.Re4 Qxd6 26.Ne8+ Kc8 27.Nxd6+ Bxd6 28.Bc4 Bc5


29.Bxb3 axb3 30.Rc1 b6 31.Qxb3 Nc6 32.Qd5 Ra5 33.Qd2 f5 34.Ree1
10

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French Tarrasch: Universal System: Black Fights Back with 7...g5!:
Theory A: 8.h3
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ngf3 g5
As we have seen from my game against Botta playing 7...Be7 to support the g5
advance may be a suspect idea. By delaying the development of the f8-bishop
Black retains control over the g7-square which is crucial in any variation where
White captures the Black pawn after the advance ...g4. White now has two main
choices: 8.h3 and 8.00.
8.dxc5 should not trouble Black as the following line shows: 8...Bxc5 9.Nb3 Be7
10.00 g4 11.Nfd4 Ncxe5 and the onus is on White to prove compensation for
the pawn.

8.h3 h5 9.Nf1
9.dxc5 Nxc5 10.Nb3 Nxd3+ exchanges a knight for the light-squared bishop and
is comfortable for Black.

9...Rg8!
This is best, supporting the g-pawn on both g5 and if it advances to g4.

10.g4?!
An understandable reaction, but I consider it to be dubious as the continuation
will demonstrate. Perhaps best is 10.Ng3 but after 10...cxd4 11.cxd4 g4 12.hxg4
hxg4 13. Bh7 Rg7 14.Ng1 f6 Black is targeting White's centre and has a
comfortable game.

10...hxg4 11.hxg4 cxd4 12.cxd4 Bb4+ 13.Bd2


13.Ke2 was looked at in the Agdestein game above.

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13...Qb6 14.Bxb4 Qxb4+ 15.Qd2 f6
This move should ensure Black equality. A sample line might be:

16.Qxb4 Nxb4 17.Bh7 Rg7 18.Kd2 Ke7

Black is fine.

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French Tarrasch: Universal System: Black Fights Back with 7...g5!:
Theory B: 8.0-0
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ngf3 g5
8.00

8...g4
The next few moves are basically forced.

9.Ne1 cxd4 10.cxd4 Nxd4 11.Qxg4 Nc6 12.f4


The only sensible way to defend e5.

12...h5 13.Qh3

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This looks a little odd but the White queen supports the possible f5-advance
from here. White could have played 13.Qe2 but then Black can play 13...Nd4
14.Qd1 Qb6 15.Kh1 Nc5 with a comfortable position.
13.Qd1 Qb6+ 14.Kh1 Nc5 is also fine for Black.

13...Nc5 14.Be2 Qb6 15.Kh1 Bd7 16.Nc2 a5

Preventing b4 from White which would have been a strong reply to 16...000.
This position has not been reached in practice but I feel it is balanced with
chances for both sides. If White now continued with 17.a3 (once again intending
to meet 17...000 with 18.b4) Black can play 17...a4 and its clear why this is
similar, but a big improvement, on the position which Berg reached against
Fedorchuk.

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French Tarrasch: Universal System: Black Fights Back with 7...g5!: Quiz
1. Q. This is the position which puts the line with ...Be7 and ...g5 into serious
doubt. What is the strongest continuation for White?

A. 18.Qxg4! leads to a clear advantage for White e.g. 18...Bxg3 19.Qg6+


Kd8 20.fxg3 Qxd4+ 21. Be3 Qxb2 22.Rc1 when White has a monstrous
attack.
2. Q. Instead of playing 7...Bg7 what improvement do I recommend for
Black and why?

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A. 7...g5! by Black immediately is better. One of the key differences is
that the bishop on f8 has not moved so the square remains defended and
Black has saved a vital tempo.
3. Q. White has just replied to Bb4+ with Ke2. What is Blacks most
thematic continuation?

A. Once again Black seizes the opportunity to play 1...f6. Not only does
this target the White centre, here it has the added bonus of doing so when
White can no longer castle.
4. Q. In this position Berg tried 1...a5, but this proved to be a highly
weakening move, why?

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A. Once the pawn has moved to a5, the b5-square becomes very weak.
This may seem unimportant but the clever rerouting of Whites knight
from d2-b1-c3 (targeting b5) highlights the positional weakness of Blacks
position. See question 5 for a key improvement.
5. Q. The line with ...g5 and ..g4 can be considered to be somewhat
weakening to Blacks structure so he must take advantage of the
opportunities it creates. What is Blacks best continuation?

A. 1...cxd4 takes advantage of the White knight being kicked from f3.
Black should play boldly against Whites centre so following the natural
2.cxd4 then Black should carry on with 2...Nxd4 breaking Whites grip on
the centre.

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Chapter 10: French Exchange

Introduction
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5
Yawn! I am going to look at some simple ways of gaining equality. In general
the better player will win in the French Exchange Variation because the position
is roughly equal. One thing is for sure it's not going to refute the French
Defence.

Key Game 1: Tatai, S - Kortschnoj, V


Beersheba, 1978

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3

4...c5!?
This is an interesting way of changing the character of the game. A safer option
would be 4...c6 which I have always thought was a good and solid way of
meeting the Exchange Variation.

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Key Point!
In general 4...c6 is a solid way of gaining positional equality when the game
will be a battle between the ability of the two players to find the better plans
and best moves.

There are some more entertaining approaches and 4...c5!? is one of them as the
game very quickly demonstrates.

5.Nf3
We will look at alternatives in the theory section.

5...Nc6
Black normally continues in this way, putting pressure on d4.

6.Qe2+
Far too greedy.

6...Be7 7.dxc5
7...c4 was threatened, winning a piece.

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7...Nf6
Speedy development is the key.

8.h3
Taking control of g4 but weakening the dark squares. We will see that this is
important later.

8...0-0 9.0-0

9...Bxc5
Black is very active and White's queen is misplaced on e2.

10.c3?!

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Again far too passive. White should have developed a piece.
10.Bg5?! runs into 10...h6 11.Bh4 g5 12.Bg3 Re8 13.Qd1 Ne4! when Black is easily
better.
10.Nbd2 may have been best but Black can simply reply 10...Re8 with a
positional advantage.

10...Re8 11.Qc2 Qd6!


Setting up a nasty plan. The queen wants to move into g3.

12.Nbd2?
Losing rather easily but Black is already well on top and the opening has gone
very smoothly.

12Qg3! 13.Bf5
Or:
1. 13.Nd4 Nxd4 14.fxg3 Nxc2+ wins.
2. 13.Kh1 Bxf2 14.Nb3 Bb6 wins a pawn, and Whites dark-square
weaknesses will prove decisive.
3. 13.Ng5!? Ne5! 13...Qxg5? 14.Ne4! 14.Bxh7+ Kf8 and White will lose
material.

13...Re2 14.Nd4 Nxd4 01

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Had White struggled on, the game may have continued 15.cxd4 Bxd4 16.Qd3
Bxf2+ 17.Kh1 Bxf5 18.Qxf5 Re2 when Black is two clear pawns up and
positionally dominating.

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French Exchange: Theory A: 4.Bd3
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Bd3 c5!?

5.dxc5
1. 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Qe2+ is looked at in the introductory game.
2. 5.c3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.Be3 c4 8.Bc2 Bg4 is roughly equal. Black develops
naturally.
3. 5.Qe2+ is also possible but play often transposes back into the
introductory game. Ok, White might be a pawn up for a while but his
queen is exposed on e2, for example 5...Be7 6.dxc5 Nf6 7.Nf3 00 8.00
Bxc5 9.Bg5 Nc6 10.Nbd2 h6 11.Bh4 Bg4. Blacks pieces are active.

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Key Point!
This is a typical set up and one that Black should aim for.

12.Rfe1 g5 13.Bg3 Nh5 Gaining the advantage of the two bishops.

5...Bxc5 6.Nf3 Nf6 7.00 00

8.Bg5
8.Nbd2 is a bit passive: 8...Nc6 9.Nb3

Key Point!
If 9.h3 Qd6! When White plays h3 then ...Qd6 is often a good move. If White
does not play h3 then black should play ...Bg4.

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9...Bb6 10.c3 Bg4 11.Be2 with at least equality for Black.

8...Nc6 9.Nbd2 Bg4 10.c3 h6 11.Bh4 Re8 12.Qa4 Bd7

Blacks position is very comfortable.

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French Exchange: Theory B: 4.Nf3
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 c6!

This seems like the simplest way to gain equality.

5.Bd3
5.Bf4 Bd6 6.Bxd6 Qxd6 7.c3 Ne7 8.Bd3 Bf5 is equal.

5...Bd6 6.00 Ne7

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Key Point!
This is the setup I am going to recommend - Bd6 and Ne7.

7.c4
Or:
1. 7.Bg5 00 8.Nbd2 f6 9.Bh4 Bf5 10.Nb3 Nd7 is equal.
2. 7.h3 00 8.Re1 Bf5 is equal too.

7...00 8.Nc3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Bg4 10.h3 Bh5 11.g4 Bg6 12.Ne5

Now 12...c5 is possible, but a little risky, so those wishing to keep things tight
would be well advised to play 12...Nd7 when an IQP position has arisen with the
added bonus for Black of Whites weakened kingside.

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French Exchange: Theory C: 4.c4!?
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.c4!?

This is the most dangerous move and Black has to be a bit careful. I suggest that
Black aims to play ...Nf6 followed up with ...Bb4+.

4...Nf6 5.Nf3 Bb4+ 6.Nc3


6.Bd2? White wants to avoid exchanging pieces as the isolated pawn position
after 6...Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 dxc4 is quite unpleasant. White needs to keep pieces on
the board in positions such as this.

6...00 7.Be2 dxc4


Key Point!
Only capture on c4 after White has moved his light-squared bishop. This way
you save a tempo!

8.Bxc4
8.00 Bxc3 8...Nd5?! 9.Bxc4! Nxc3 10.bxc3 Bxc3 11.Rb1 is very dangerous for
Black and is the type of thing that should be avoided. 9.bxc3 Be6 is a good way
to mix things up. 10.Bg5 Nbd7 11.Nd2 b5 12.a4 a6 13.Bf3 Rb8 14.Ne4 h6 is pretty
unclear but at least Black is a pawn up.

8...Bg4
Now that the White bishop has moved away from e2 Black should take
advantage of the pin on the d1h5 diagonal.

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Key Point!
When playing ...Bg4 the main plan that black has to be aware of is h3 and g4,
followed up with Ne5. This can be most unpleasant.

9.0-0
9.h3 has been played but I cannot see a good reason why Black should not try
and capture the pawn on d4, for example 9...Bxf3 10.Qxf3 10.gxf3?! is obviously
ugly for White. 10...Qxd4 11.Be2 Ne4 just looks good for Black.

9...Nc6!

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This is more active than 9...Nbd7. Black attacks the d4-pawn.

10.Be3
10.Bg5 h6 11.Bh4 Be7! breaks the pin.

10...Rb8!?
The idea is to defend the b-pawn so that now Black is threatening to capture on
f3 and d4. A strange-looking move but it makes a lot of sense.
10...Bxf3? Black should not willing give up this strong bishop, unless he can win
a pawn in the process. 11.Qxf3 Nxd4 12.Qxb7 Hence why Rb8 is feasible.

11.Be2
11.a3 can simply be met by 11...Ba5.

11...Nd5

Black has a very comfortable position and should even be considered


preferable.

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French Exchange: Quiz
1. Q. Why should Black be unconcerned by the move 3.exd5?

A. After 1...exd5 White will have a seriously tough time threatening


Blacks setup. The only real challenge for Black is staying awake long
enough to outplay the opponent.
2. Q. White has played the ambitious Qe2+ with the idea of capturing on c5.
Is 1...Qe7 the only move?

A. No! Black should reply with 1...Be7 gambiting the c5-pawn, with the
idea of following up with ...Nf6 and a quick ...0-0, when the positioning of
Whites queen and king is suspect.

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3. Q. White has just played h3 to prevent ...Bg4. Where should black now
develop his queen?

A. 1...Qd6 is best. This targets the now weakened b8-h2 diagonal with
ideas of ...Bxh3 followed by ...Qg3+ or perhaps Bb6-c7 potentially
livening up the game with a planned mate on h2.
4. Q. Black has decided to play...c6. In this situation is it better to play
1...Ne7 or 1...Nf6?

A. 1...Ne7 is a better setup. Not only does this make a Bg5 pin less
threatening it also prepares ...Bf5, exchanging off Whites best minor
piece for Blacks weakest one.

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5. Q. White has played the most interesting line of the French Exchange
with c4. Black should now use good timing to respond to whites
previous move of Be2, but how?

A. Black should respond with 1...dxc4 as White must move the light-
squared bishop again to recapture on c4. After 1...dxc4 2.Bxc4 Black
should play 2...Bg4 to pin the knight on f3, as Whites bishop is no longer
on e2.

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Chapter 11: Kings Indian Attack

Introduction
1.e4 e6 2.d3

This move is often employed by players who have little time to learn theory.
Normally White can bang out his first ten moves without thinking, pretty much
against any setup. Black has a number of decent ways to meet it but I am going
to suggest a system based on g6.

2...d5 3.Nd2 c5
Gaining space.

4.Ngf3 Nc6 5.g3 g6!?

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This is the main move I recommend and I like this plan. Basically White
normally plays e5 at some point. By playing 5...g6 Black prepares to meet e5 by
putting pressure on the e5-pawn with ...Bg7 and often ...Qc7.

Key Point!
Black can delay castling as he can often play a well timed ...h6 and ...g5.

Key Point!
Black can expand on the queenside with the time-honoured push of ...a5 and
even use his a8 rook by putting it on a7, with the idea of switching along the
2nd rank.

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Key Game: Stripunsky, A - Kaidanov, G
Los Angeles, 2003

1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 Nc6 5.g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.00 Nge7

Blacks set up is very solid. I like the placement of the dark-squared bishop on
g7. It controls the centre and puts pressure on White's queenside.

8.Re1 b6

Key Point!
Black need not hurry to castle as 0-0-0 is a valuable option to retain.

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9.c3 a5
9...h6 was another option but 9...a5 demonstrates the option of activating the a8
rook in an unusual manner.

10.a4
Stopping the a-pawn in its tracks.
10.exd5!? exd5 10...Nxd5!? 11.Qa4 Bd7 is another playable possibility. 11.d4 cxd4
12.Nxd4 Nxd4 13.cxd4 00 is fine for Black.

10...Ra7 11.exd5 exd5 12.Nb3

12...d4!?
Black has a space advantage but White's pieces are the more active.

13.cxd4
13.Nfxd4!? Nxd4 14.cxd4 cxd4 15.Bf4 00 16.Bb8 Rb7!? is just the type of thing
I would play! 17.Bxb7 Bxb7 18.Bf4 g5! 19.Bc1 19.Bxg5 Qd5 wins a piece. 19...Ng6
when Black has a very good position.

13...cxd4 14.Bg5 00 15.Rc1

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White has some pressure against Black's pieces but he also has some nasty
weaknesses.

15...h6 16.Rxc6
16.Bf4 g5 17.Bd2 Be6!? 18.Nxg5 hxg5 19.Bxc6 Nxc6 20.Rxc6 Bd5 21.Rc1 Re7 is
more than enough compensation for the pawn.

16...hxg5

17.Rc4?!
White should have preferred 17.Rc1 g4 18.Ne5 Be6 with an equal game.

17...Ba6

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17...Be6? 18.Rxe6 fxe6 19.Nbxd4 is very good for White.

18.Rc1 Nd5
18...g4 19.Ne5 Qd6 20.Nc4 20.Nxg4? f5 traps the knight. 20...Qb4 is annoying for
White.

19.Nbxd4 Nb4 20.Nc6 Nxc6 21.Rxc6 Rd7

With the bishop pair and plenty of pressure Blacks position is much more
comfortable than Whites. 22.Re3 would have retained a degree of balance but
white errs.

22.Qb3?
22.Qc1 g4 23.Ne5 Bxe5 24.Rxe5 Rxd3 25.Re1 Qd4 is also better for Black.

22...Bb7!
Winning material.

23.Ne5
23.Rc2 is answered by 23...Rxd3, winning.

23...Bxe5 24.Rxe5 Bxc6 25.Bxc6 Rxd3 26.Qb5 Rd2 27.Re3 Qf6


28.Rf3 Qxb2 29.Rb3 01

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Black is an exchange and a pawn ahead and White has no compensation for the
material deficit. After 29...Qc1+ 30.Kg2 Rfd8 Whites king will not survive long.

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Kings Indian Attack: Theory A: 5...g6!?
1.e4 e6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 Nc6 5.g3 g6

6.Bg2 Bg7 7.00 Nge7


This can be considered to be the main starting position for this variation.

8.Re1
8.c3 will often lead to the same thing. Black should just play 8...b6 in order to
meet 9.Re1 with 9...h6.

8...b6 9.c3

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Alternatives:
1. 9.h4 h6 When white plays h4 black should play ...h6. This is to meet h5
with ...g5. 10.Qe2 a5 11.e5 g5 When white has played e5 this is a typical
idea. Black wins a central pawn in exchange for a wing pawn but the Black
king can be a bit open to attack on e8. 12.hxg5 hxg5 13.Nxg5 Nxe5
14.Ndf3 N5g6 would leave Black quite a lot better.
2. 9.e5 is a typical plan when Black should aim to win this pawn. 9...Qc7
10.Qe2 g5!? 10...Bb7 11.h4 h6 12.Nf1 Nd4!? should be roughly equal. 11.Nxg5
Qxe5 12.Qxe5 Nxe5 Black has the bigger central pawn formation so he
might be slightly better.

9...h6
This was Kasparov's choice. We saw 9...a5 immediately in the introductory
game.

10.h4 a5 11.a4
11.exd5 exd5 12.d4 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Nxd4 14.cxd4 is equal.

11...Ra7!
This rook manoeuvre comes up a lot.

12.Nb3 d4!
Another typical idea.

13.cxd4 cxd4 14.Bd2 e5 15.Nc1 Be6

Black was slightly better in Ljubojevic - Kasparov, Niksic, 1983.

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Kings Indian Attack: Quiz
1. Q. This is the basic starting position of the KIA. Black has many ways to
meet this but what is my preferred setup?

A. I like playing 1...g6 here. Black will follow up with ...Bg7. This system
retains a lot of flexibility and has the major advantage that Black can
decide which side to castle his king on when he needs to make a decision.
2. Q. White has just played the adventurous-looking h4. Should Black be
concerned and what should he play?

A. Black should tread carefully and be in a position to respond to h5 with


...g5. This means that 1...h6 is the best reply.

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3. Q. Black has an interesting way to develop his queenside rook. Whats
the plan and whats the move?

A. 1...Ra7! Kasparov has played this move so it must be a good idea! The
rook moves off the h1-a8 diagonal and can now switch along the 7th rank
to either c7 or d7.

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Chapter 12: Early Deviations

Introduction
As in most openings there are some players who wish to avoid main line theory
or in some cases take the game out of well-charted territory as early as possible.
Inevitably it is not possible to cover every eventuality but many of the side lines
by their very definition should not overly concern Black. In this chapter we will
look at the side lines that White tries most often.

Key Game 1: Schneider, I - Ulibin, M


Biel, 2004

1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.d4 c5

6.dxc5
The sharp 6.Bb5 can be neutralised with careful development: 6...Nc6 7.00
Be7 8.dxc5 00 9.Bf4 Nxc5 which should be sufficient for Black.

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6...Nc6 7.Bf4

7...Bxc5
It is also possible to play 7...Nxc5!? 8.Be2 a6 9.00 Be7 10.a3 00 11.Re1 f5! In
order to justify his opening White is compelled to capture en passant. Failing to
do this leaves Black with a very strong centre and a powerful outpost on e4. A
game between Golod and Akobian continued 12.exf6 Bxf6 13.Bg3 Ne4! 14.Qd3
Nxg3 15.hxg3 Bd7 16.Rad1 Rf7. After this Golod played inaccurately but the
position is already preferable for Black due to his central pawns which are well
supported by his minor pieces.

8.Bd3 f6! 9.exf6 Nxf6 10.00 00 11.Ne5 Bd7

12.Qe2

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12.Nxc6 featured in a World Championship match but after 12...Bxc6 13.Qe2
Qe7 White could not claim any advantage.

12...Qe7 13.Rae1 Rae8 14.a3 a6 15.Bg3 Nxe5 16.Bxe5 Bc6

17.b4?!
This is a dubious idea but Black already holds a positional edge.

17...Bb6 18.b5?
White continues to overreact but playing 18.Kh1 was clearly not part of the
game plan.

18...axb5 19.Nxb5 Bxb5 20.Bxb5


Black now finds the sharpest and best continuation based on the weakness of
the f2-pawn.

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20...Ne4! 21.Bg3
21.Bxe8 does not help following 21...Rxf2 22.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 23.Kh1 Bxe1 24.Qxe1
Qxe8 when Black emerges material up.

21...Rd8 22.Bd3 Nxg3 23.hxg3 Rf6

White cannot cope with the pressure on the still pinned f2-pawn. The white-
squared bishop is helpless to defend against Blacks build up.

24.g4 Rdf8 25.Bf5 Kh8 26.Qe5 Qc5 01

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White must now lose his light-squared bishop or allow Black to crash through
the f-file.

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Early Deviations: Theory A: Wing Gambit
1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.b4!?

I have played this idea myself as White. The idea is to get a strong grip on the
centre. White does this by diverting the Black c-pawn away from its defence of
d4.

4...c4
Of course Black can capture the extra pawn but I would prefer to avoid my
opponents preparation. 4...c4 is a perfectly sensible reply. I have a specific idea
in mind.
4...cxb4 5.d4 Nc6 6.a3 a6 7.axb4 Bxb4+ 8.c3 Bf8 9.Bd3 Nge7 10.h4 is just the
type of play that White wants. I would aim to avoid this type of game.

5.c3
This is the best move. 5.a3 is also met by 5...a5.

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5...a5! 6.b5
6.d3 cxd3 7.b5 Nd7 will lead to the same thing.

6...Nd7! 7.d3
White needs to move the d-pawn in order to defend e5 and develop the light-
squared bishop. 7.d4 cxd3 is the same.

7...cxd3 8.Bxd3

8...f6!?

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Key Point!
This is the main idea. Black immediately attacks Whites centre.

9.Qc2!?
1. 9.Qe2 fxe5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Qxe5 Nf6 12.Ba3 Bxa3 13.Nxa3 00 is equal.
2. 9.Bf4 fxe5 10.Nxe5 (10.Ng5 is very enterprising but also bad! 10...Qf6! The
queen comes over to defend some crucial squares. 11.Be3 e4 is better for
Black.

Key Point!
10...Qf6! This move is critical for Black to control the e5 square.

11.Nxd7 Bxd7 12.Bg3 g6!? 13.00 Nh6! Aiming for f7 to control e5. 14.Re1
Nf7 15.Qe2 Bg7 when Black's position looks quite promising.

9...Nxe5 10.Nxe5 fxe5 11.Bxh7

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Blacks opening can already be considered successful despite currently having
all his remaining pieces on their starting squares. Black can play 11...e4, 11...Bd6,
11...Ne7 or (again) 11...Qf6.
The Black pawn mass controlling the centre makes life difficult for White.

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Early Deviations: Theory B: 2.b3
1.e4 e6 2.b3

This line should not trouble Black. I think that by far and away the best way to
play is to avoid capturing on e4 which very much plays into Whites hands.

2...d5 3.Bb2 Nf6!


This is the key move avoiding 3...dxe4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2, which can become
dangerous.

4.e5
4.exd5 exd5 is comfortable for Black as White would rather avoid playing d4
blocking in his bishop, and it is hard to envisage any line where Black comes
under pressure.

4...Nfd7 5.Qg4
If one really wants to avoid the opponents play I would even recommend
playing 5...f5 in this variation.

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White would be well advised to avoid 6.exf6 as after 6...Nxf6 the white queens
early development looks premature. Any retreat of the queen means the white
pawn on e5 blocks any pressure from the b2-bishop, calling into question its
positioning.

c5 6.f4 Nc6

Although one should never underestimate unusual variations Whites play here
has a very superficial look to it.

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Early Deviations: Theory C: 3.Be3
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Be3
3.Bd3 c5 4.c3 4.exd5 exd5 would lead back to what we have already looked at in
the Exchange Variation chapter. 4...Nc6 5.Ne2 cxd4! 6.cxd4 Nb4 Eliminating
White's dangerous light-squared bishop. 7.Bb5+ Bd7 8.Bxd7+ Qxd7 9.e5 Ne7
Black has a good French Advance as he has managed to exchange off light-
squared bishops.
[diagram]
3.Be3 can be a tricky little gambit. Black is advised to play actively.

3...dxe4 4.Nd2 Nf6 5.f3

5...Nd5!
5...exf3 6.Ngxf3 is giving White what he wants.

6.Qe2 Nc6!
Gaining a tempo by attacking the white pawn on d4.

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7.c3 exf3 8.Ngxf3 Bd6 9.Bf2
9.Ne4 00 is fine.

9...0-0

Black already has a comfortable position. Play could continue:

10.000 a6 11.g3 b5 12.Bg2 Qe7 13.Rde1 Bb7 14.Rhf1 Na5 15.Bg1


Rac8 16.Ne4 Nc4 17.Nfd2 Nxd2 18.Qxd2

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as in Bullockus, T - Droessler, U, Corr World Cup, 2000.

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Early Deviations: Quiz
1. Q. The start of the French Wing Gambit. Whites main preparation
revolves around Black accepting the gambit with 1...cxb4 but what do I
suggest is a good alternative to avoid this?

A. 1...c4 is a perfectly sound move and hopefully takes the opponent


somewhat off-piste. This is not simply an avoiding strategy as Black has
some nice ideas as in the following question.
2. Q. White has responded in the soundest manner with c3. How should
Black immediately set about targeting the White queenside?

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A. 1...a5 will almost certainly force White into the weakening advance of
b5. This plays into Blacks hands as there is a big hole on c5 for a knight
and White must now tend to both his weak e5-pawn and worry about b5
and several weak-looking squares.
3. Q. White has chosen the offbeat b3 move leaving e4 undefended. Why is
1...dxe4 playing into Whites game plan and what is a better response for
Black?

A. Whites best chances lie when black plays ...dxe4 as White can quickly
regain this pawn with Nc3 and Qe2 which places his pieces on good
squares and keeps the b2-bishop active. 1...Nf6! may force White to play
e5 which blunts the b2-bishop and questions its placing.
4. Q. White has chosen a line with an early Bd3 allowing his kingside knight
to be developed to e2 without blocking in the light-squared bishop. Black
has just exchanged pawns on d4 with a specific idea of a beneficial
exchange. How should he proceed?

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A. This move order allows Black to play 1...Nb4 immediately forcing the
exchange of Whites best minor piece. 2.Bb5+ will be met by 2...Bd7
when it is safe to say Black is already at least equal.
5. Q. White has chosen to attempt a gambit line involving Be3 and f3. It is
possible to capture on f3 accepting the gambit but I never like giving my
opponent the initiative if i can avoid it. In my view Black has a much
better response than 1...exf3. What is it?

A. 1...Nd5 is the best move and actually gives Black a considerable edge.
White must respond with 2.Qe2 to defend the e3-bishop when Black has
a comfortable continuation with 2...Nc6 targeting the d4-pawn.

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Conclusion
Hopefully during the course of this piece of work I have debunked this age old
quote of Wilhelm Steinitz:

I have never in my life played the French Defence, which is the dullest
of all openings.

Thanks for that Steinitz!

My aim in these pages has to been to prove the opposite. The French
Defence is a dynamic and exciting way of meeting 1 e4. Proven over time
to be reliable and a great way to play for a win with Black. This is an
opening that would be a valuable asset to anyone's treasure trove of chess
weapons.

I myself have dabbled with just about every possible opening there is
against 1.e4, but in crucial and important games I always feel most
comfortable playing 1...e6. This has been my bread and butter through
my 30 years as a chess player.

The variations that I recommend within these pages, are basically the
same variations that I played. They are my 'secret' lines, and have got me
to Grandmaster level. I sincerely hope that my suggestions will also help
you improve as a player.

It is true that theory develops and we must all aim to keep up with these
developments. I especially advise you to keep up to date with what is
happening in the sharpest variation - the Poisoned Pawn Winawer, as
one mistake here will leave you in a complete mess. Another line which I
would advise you to keep an eye on would be the Tarrasch Universal
System. This seems to be gaining in popularity at an alarming rate; make
sure you feel very comfortable playing against this system.

Other recommended ways of keeping up with theory, would be by


keeping an eye on the games of top players who employ the French
Defence. You can also do your own research using ChessBase and the
latest TWIC database (if you're not sure what I am talking about then you
can google TWIC!). The Chess Publishing site is also well worth the
subscription fee, and will let you know about any new developments.

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If you do not have the Killer French DVDs, then these are a tremendous
addition to this eBook. Learning while watching a video in bed cannot be
a bad thing!

And of course, dont forget to check out:


The Ginger GM website:
http://www.gingergm.com

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https://www.facebook.com/GingerGM-159518957517229/

The Ginger GM free YouTube channel:


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