The French Defense is a solid but cunning opening, and it has been played by some of the greatest chess players in the world. The French Defense can be divided into four major variations. Although it has been more popular before, the Advance Variation is still seen as a solid, yet ambitious option against the French Defense. In the Exchange Variation, White goes for the most solid and quiet system against the French Defense.

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After the moves: 1. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qg4 Qc7!? Qxg7 Rg8 8. Qxh7 cxd4 The position in the diagram above is the starting point of a very double edged play. Some players may already feel uncomfortable as white, not because the position is bad, but because they are going into such a sharp battle after only 8 moves.

This is not something that everyone is ready to do as white. A solution would be to avoid Qg4 and play more positional, with 6. This is true, but the move leads to a more positional ground that may not be suitable for you.

Besides 3. Nc3, white has another main response against the French defense, the Tarrasch variation, with 3. This line will be the subject of this article. The move 3. Nd2 is known as a less ambitious way to play against the French than 3. However, white reduces the number of sharp lines considerably and there is still room for a dynamic and active play.

The name was given to it after Korchnoi, a French player, used the line once. Note:In order to improve your play not only you need to study the openings but also you need to concentrate on positional understanding and endgame play.

Nd2 Nf6 4. Bd3 c5 6. Ngf3 Even though the line was named after Korchnoi, the very first ideas of the dynamic possibilities that can be used in this gambit were seen in the duel between Marshall and Saemisch.

You should bear in mind that white must play active, always considering these factors. In the next examples we are going to analyze the main theoretical branches of the line: 1. In this game we will examine what happens when black accepts the challenge and grabs the pawn: Black is not forced to accept the pawn, he has quite a few alternatives and in the next two games we will have a look into 7…g6 and 7…Qb6, followed by 8…g6.

Finally, we will take a look at the line 7…Be7, followed by g5. We hope that, with this article, we have helped you expand your knowledge about the French defense, regardless of the color you want to play it with.

As theory and practice never stop, there are many other recent and not so recent game examples of each line presented here. However, the lines exposed are a good point to start learning the basics of the variation and they will hopefully serve you well in your tournament practice.


Tarrasch in French Defense (Plans/Ideas)

Well, let me summarize what a specialist of the Advance French, Evgeny Sveshnikov, had to say about it. Sveshnikov pointed out that 3. Nd2 does not fight for the center as d4 has been weakened. He brings up the fact that it blocks the development of the other White Queenside pieces, particularly the Bishop on c1, which in turn hems in the Rook on a1. Lastly, he makes the point that the only true plus to this line is defensive in nature.


The French Defense

After the moves: 1. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qg4 Qc7!? Qxg7 Rg8 8.


Chess Opening Explorer

Tarrasch Nc6: the Guimard Variation. Against 3. Nd2 Tarrasch, Vaganian used the less explored but super solid Nc6 Guimard variation, equalised easily and even took a full point. Nc6, that is 4.

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