Sunday, July 29, 2012

Does this look like a Frenchman ?

A weird French position occurs after 1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4 e6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Nf3 (diagram). It looks like a French defense, but differs a lot, since the knight is not at e7 but at d7.

Today, we will look at black's strongest continuation 7...Qb6 8.Be2 (diagram)

a/ 8...Be7 9.00 00 10.Kh1 
A completely equal position has occured. Black has tremendous problems in developing his light squared bishop. Unfortunately, white does not have any immediate target either.

b/ 8...cxd4 9.cxd4
The inclusion of the natural exchange on d4 favours white as it frees the c3 square for the knight.
...b1/ 9...Be7 10.00 (=)
...b2/ 9...a6 10.00 (=)
...b3/ 9...Bb4+ 10.Nc3 (+=)
...b4/ 9...f6 10.Nc3 (+=)

c/ 8...f6 9.00
...c1/ 9...Be7 10.Kh1 (=)
...c2/ 9...fxe5 10.dxe5 (+=)
...c3/ 9...f5 10.a3 (+=)

d/ 8...a6 9.00 (=)

Onbiviously, I am just scratching on the surface of these "Frenchish" lines, but is clear that white has nothing to fear.


  1. To me, in the Steinitz variation of the French, the black knight is also on d7, but white knight is already on c3.

    So to me, white is just a tempo down against the Steinitz in the french so I am not convinced.
    What worries me even more is that a lot of players are starting to play this against the paleface, at least that is my experience and I really hate the French (one of the reasons I started to play 1. d4).

  2. I disagree with the comment of Anonymous. The position occuring after the Paleface is much better for white as c3 can be played to defend the d4 pawn after black's thematic c5. In the French, the knight on c3 prohibits this, so black as able to destroy white centre more easily.