I'm working with my 1300 USCF kid on his opening repertoire. In the French defense, I have a few questions/problems I'm trying to resolve:
1) In many of the closed lines (after e5) we go after placing a knight on f5. Usually we go at it with ..h5, ..Nh6, ...Nf5. a) Sometimes people take the knight once it reaches h6 and we recapture with the rook. I struggle for a good plan after that, especially since the rooks are disconnected. b) When the knight does get to f5 it sometimes gets challenged by the white (light squared) bishop. The question is whether to reinforce this f5 knight with g6 and allow the capture, recapturing with gxf5. We try to play on the open g-file. I haven't been getting good practical results and wonder if I've got this wrong.
2) This question pertains to the advance variation. I've suggested using a quick ..c5, ..Qb6, ..Bd7, ..Bb5 to swap off the bad bishop. In this line we don't have the french Qside pawn storm at first. Moreover, I've been telling my son that if white breaks the tension with dxc5 we can recapture with ..Bxc5 which I thought was a "French dream". But recently in this "dream position", I've been hit with b4 and a queenside pawn storm initiative. Connected with 1a) above I've been getting bad games (no black queenside pawnstorm, and no Nf5 post). I'm wondering if there's a simple thing to do to create some black queen side space when the Queen is out front (perhaps ..a5)?