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Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:29 am
by MJMcCready
It's often the case that if you play against your opponent what he plays himself, he can become unsure or even being on the other side of what he knows well enough uncomfortable, well certain at club level. I appear to be going through this with the French Defence. Of course I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination but I have played the French defence all my life. Facing it with the white pieces has become a problem so I wanted to ask some questions.

If you play the French Defence, what line are you hoping for? Exchange, 3.Nc3, King's Indian Attack?

I normally play the Tarrasch with white but I'm not comfortable on the white side of it and need to change things. I'm fairly sure I'll shift over to the advance variation even though as black I've always been happy to see it. I suspect I will aim for:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. Be2 Nge7 7. Na3 cxd4 8. Nf5 Nc2
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How does this line fair generally? I've never played it with white but I'm fairly sure I saw Anand play it not so long ago, so I thought it must be alright but what are the positional motives in play. Okay so I still have the space advantage and it looks like play will be conducted on the kingside as a bishop check puts the K on f1 and g4 and h4 are commonly played. Ultimately it's kingside attack I want to aim for but I don't want to play 3. Nc3 because there's just too much theory to absolve. What should I do if I want to play the French advance? Stick with the above? Are the early a3 lines really worth looking into? From what I've seen so far it looks like black gets a lot of play with them.

Any thoughts on what to do are most welcome? With black I am okay but with white I just don't quite know how to handle the French. I like the look of the Milner-Barry gambit but it doesn't look so sound to me. But then I'm just a club player, so what would I know.

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:09 am
by David Sedgwick
MJMcCready wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:29 am
8. Nf5 Nc2
I think that that is a typo for 8. cxd4 Nf5 9. Nc2

MJMcCready wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:29 am
I like the look of the Milner-Barry gambit but it doesn't look so sound to me. But then I'm just a club player, so what would I know.
I have been playing both sides of the Milner-Barry gambit for about 50 years. With best play on both sides, I suspect that it favours Black.

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:57 am
by Mike Gunn
With white I play the King's Indian Attack because that is the line which really annoys be when I'm playing the French as black. Simon Williams has a good line as black against the KIA but nobody has ever played that against me.

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:14 am
by MJMcCready
David Sedgwick wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:09 am
MJMcCready wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:29 am
8. Nf5 Nc2
I think that that is a typo for 8. cxd4 Nf5 9. Nc2

MJMcCready wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:29 am
I like the look of the Milner-Barry gambit but it doesn't look so sound to me. But then I'm just a club player, so what would I know.
I have been playing both sides of the Milner-Barry gambit for about 50 years. With best play on both sides, I suspect that it favours Black.
Yes correct. I've also never been too troubled by the Milner-Barry gambit also.

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 10:44 am
by Kevin Thurlow
"I've also never been too troubled by the Milner-Barry gambit also."

But, did you ever play Milner-Barry?

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:21 pm
by Matt Mackenzie
I regularly play the Advance against the French, though am somewhat partial to Kupreichik's move (5 Be3!?) personally.

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 3:29 pm
by JustinHorton
What if Black goes 4...Qb6

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 3:34 pm
by Alan Walton
And also 5.... Qb6

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 4:02 pm
by Matt Mackenzie
JustinHorton wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 3:29 pm
What if Black goes 4...Qb6
I didn't say I played it exclusively :)

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 6:13 pm
by Nick Ivell
Let me give an example which will give heart to Black players everywhere: Ivell v Shuttleworth, 1976:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Nge7 6. Na3 cd 7. cd Nf5 8. Nc2 Be7 9. Be2 Bd7 10. 0-0 0-0 11. g4 Nh4 12. Nxh4 Bxh4 13. f4 f6 14. ef Bxf6 15. Be3 Rc8 16.Bd3 g6 17. Qd2 Qb6 18. f5 ef 19. gf Bxf5 20. Bxf5 gxf5 21. Rxf5 Ne7 22. Rf2 Kh8 23. b3 Qe6 24. Re1 Rg8+ 25. Kh1 Qe4+ 26. Rg2 Rxg2 and ………..
0-1

I suspect my g4 was not good...

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 6:21 pm
by Nick Ivell
To answer the question more directly, Black always gets a lot of play in the advance.

Just play 3. PxP, and aim to bore Black into submission.

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 7:02 pm
by Nick Ivell
To redress the balance, I'm going to quote a game which has never received enough attention. Nigel Short, avert your eyes! I saw this game in the Bluecoat School, and quote from memory so perhaps inexactly: Stone v Short, 1975 (??):

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. Bd3 cd 7. cd Bd7 8. 0-0 Nxd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4 10. Nc3 a6 11. Qe2 Ne7 12. Kh1 Nc6 13. f4 Nb4 14. Rd1 Nxd3 15. Rxd3 Qa7 16. f5 ef 17. Nxd5 b5 18. Bg5 Be6 19. Rad1 Rc8 20. Qf3 h6 21. Nc7+ Qxc7 22. Qc6+ 1-0

Inspired by this masterpiece, I tried the same line against the late Simon Webb. Sadly he was not so compliant as Nigel in his salad days, and I got crushed.

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:32 pm
by Roger de Coverly
The major error according to an engine appears to be 17. .. b5 after which the roof falls in. The opening line was well known in British chess in the late 1960s and early 1970s probably because Leonard Barden suggested it for white in one of his books and also featured games with this idea in the Guardian. A point of theoretical debate at the time was whether it was possible to take a second pawn with 10. .. Qxe5 .
In recent years, the Smerdon method of playing the pawn sacrifice with 9. Nbd2 has become popular. There was a 4NCL game between Smerdon and Sadler where Mathew uncorked a strong novelty a few moves down of the variations.

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:02 pm
by NickFaulks
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:32 pm
A point of theoretical debate at the time was whether it was possible to take a second pawn with 10. .. Qxe5.
Was this ever resolved? All I know is that nobody does it any more.

Re: Some Q's concerning the French Defence.

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:34 pm
by Roger de Coverly
NickFaulks wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 9:02 pm
Was this ever resolved? All I know is that nobody does it any more.
Engines seem to think that 10. .. a6 leaves White without enough for the pawn, whilst 10. .. Qxe5 allows White enough for equality.

Milner-Barry Gambits are relatively rare whichever line is chosen.

Another relatively simple variation is 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. dxc5 . It does have the disadvantage of reaching a position from the Caro a tempo down. I believe the best reply is considered to be 4. .. Qc7 which is not perhaps an obvious choice unless you know it.