How sound is 1.e4 e6 2.c4!?, the Steiner Variation in the French Defense, and would you actually recommend it? Does it work well in normal games, or is it more a surprise weapon for blitz?

3 Answers 3


It's undoubtedly sound in the sense that it does not by force lead to any sort of catastrophic disadvantage for White, but it offers very little if any objective possibility of obtaining a theoretical edge.

If you're specifically trying to reach an IQP position, it's probably preferable to play the Exchange Variation and only then follow up with c4, since Black has other reasonable options against c4 on move two besides an immediate d5 thrust. 2... c5, for example, can reach positions similar to those found in the Sicilian (i.e., various Maroczy Bind structures that crop up against the Kan, Taimanov, or Accelerated Dragon variations) and English Opening Hedgehog systems. That said, an immediate d5 seems to be the most popular response, and it's probably what one would typically expect from a French player (and what I would likely play myself).

It's certainly a viable way to play if you enjoy IQP positions and you want to avoid the well-trodden paths of main-line theory. It shouldn't lead to any advantage against correct play, however.


Against 1. e4 e6 2. c4, I'd play 2...e5.

Yes, this moves the e pawn a second time, but White has weakened his black squares and created a "hole" on d4 with the pawn move to c4. It can't be moved back to c3, where it would have formed part of a pawn chain.

If White now plays d4 to repair his pawn position, capture the pawn from e5, then chase the queen with Nc6 when it recaptures.

  • 2
    Nothing I'm afraid of. I'd play d3. The hole is easy to defend with Nf3 or Be3.
    – Landei
    Commented Aug 12, 2012 at 15:34
  • "The hole is easy to defend." You've just gone over to the defensive, and ceded the initiative to Black, even though you had the first move. Also, you've made your light squared bishop a "bad" bishop with the pawns on c4 and d3.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Nov 24, 2017 at 0:52
  • If you do 2...e5, as White, I would play 3. Nf3 and then d4. I don't think the hole is something to be bothered about especially after 2 moves.
    – Adhvaitha
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 16:37

Я сам играю правильно 2.d5 ed 3.ed a)cd5 +0.22 b)d4 +0.06


4 Qd5 5 Nc3 Qa5 6.d4 Nf6 7.Nf3 Be6 4 Nf6 5 Bb5+! Bd7 6.Qe2 Be7 7.Nf3 0-0 8.Nc3

  • 3
    What do you intend the given line to be showing?
    – ETD
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 12:39

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