I always play the Tarrasch variation against the French defense and I have quite some good results with it.

Nevertheless, when black exchanges on e4 and the game transposes into the Rubinstein variation, I have no good plan for white and don't know how to proceed. I also don't like the fast exchange on f6, which happens very often.

Can anyone give me a good plan for white?

Thanks in advance.

[fen ""]

1.e4 e6
2.d4 d5 
3.Nd2 dxe4
4.Nxe4 Nd7
5.Nf3 Ngf6
  • 1
    Search the plan with Nxf6+ followed by c3. It is very unpleasant to deal with, and gives you better endgame. I think Kasparov pioneered this plan... – AlwaysLearningNewStuff May 7 '16 at 15:46


You did not have to award a bounty, all you had to do is ask me to expand on my comment. I would have posted this answer.

To be honest, I thought that you found the line and solved your problem...


Pay attention to the comments that go along with moves. You will see comments inside the textbox. Textbox is placed just below the PGN viewer (below the chess diagram ).

[Title "Kasparov's c3"]
[fen ""]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 7.c3 {White has aggressive ideas in mind, in view of Qa4, and if Black plays …c7-c5, White can try to pose some concrete problems with moves like Ne5, Bb5, Qa4 as well as 0-0-0} c5 {If Black wants to fully equalize, he has to play this move} (7...Be7 {White can press here for an advantage} 8.Bd3 O-O 9.Qe2 b6 10.Bf4! Bb7 11.O-O-O) 8.Ne5 a6 {Black must play this} 9.Be3 Qc7 10.Qa4+ Nd7 11.Bb5 {Most critical continuation} (11.O-O-O {Black is fine here} cxd4 12.Nxd7 Bxd7 13.Qxd4 Bc6! {Black’s bishop is actively placed on c6 and he is ready to follow up with …Rd8}) cxd4 12.Bxd7+ Bxd7 13.Qxd4 {Now the idea to attack d7 one more time with 0-0-0 is a little awkward, so Black has to do something about this.} f6 (13...Bb5 14.a4 Bd6 15.Nxf7 Kxf7 16.axb5 axb5 {Black has to play precisely and still suffers in the resulting endgame positions. Rubinstein expert Georg Meier prefers this line, but I have more faith in f6, that is why I chose it as a main move for Black}) 14.Nxd7 Qxd7 15.Qxd7+ Kxd7 16.O-O-O Kc7! {Black has difficult position but has also great chances to equalize}


The move 7.c3 after 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6 was popularized by Gary Kasparov, and is in fact one of the most critical tests of the Rubinstein Defense!

White clears the way to a4 for his queen, possibly followed by queenside castling and other aggressive moves such as Ne5 or Bb5.

In the critical line 7…c5! 8.Ne5 a6 9.Be3 Qc7 10.Qa4+ Nd7 11.Bb5 cxd4 12.Bxd7+ Bxd7 13.Qxd4, Black has a difficult choice to make.

Georg Meier has favored the structurally compromising 13…Bb5 14.a4 Bd6 15.Nxf7 Kxf7 16.axb5 axb5 and kind of worked it out to a draw.

Black is still suffering a bit here in practice, and that is why I prefer 13…f6 14.Nxd7 Qxd7 15.Qxd7 Kxd7, keeping the pawn-structure intact.

In both lines it is only White who can win, and Black has to play very precise in order to draw. From practical point of view, I believe this line is your best chance for playing for a win against Rubinstein French.


I would get the French Defense The Solid Rubinstein Variation by Hannes Langrock, he did an excellent work in covering this line. It will help you grasp the ideas.

You might need additional resource to cover all the lines though... I think ECO C could be useful here...


A line without 6. Nxf6+

[FEN ""]

  1. e4             e6            
  2. d4             d5            
  3. Nd2            dxe4          
  4. Nxe4           Nd7           
  5. Nf3            Ngf6          
  6. Bd3 {This keeps pieces on the board as requested, but Black can always gain a tempo with 6... Nxe4 7. Bxe4 Nf6}           Be7 

My evaluation of this position is dynamic equality.

White's plan is to:

  • Castle kingside
  • Solidify with c3. The space gainer c4 is often not as useful in the variation, as ...Nb6 can put some pressure on the pawn
  • Utilise the queenside pawn majority to create a passed pawn

Black's plan is to:

  • Castle kingside
  • Engineer the liberating ...c5 break
  • Gain a tempo with ...Nxe4

Source of variation: Ubisoft's Chessmaster opening book

A line with 6. Nxf6+

[FEN ""]

  1. e4             e6            
  2. d4             d5            
  3. Nd2            dxe4          
  4. Nxe4           Nd7           
  5. Nf3            Ngf6          
  6. Nxf6+          Nxf6          
  7. Bd3            c5            
  8. dxc5 {It seems a little odd to help Black develop, but there is no good waiting move}           Bxc5 

Again the evaluation of this position is dynamic equality.

White's plan is to:

  • Castle kingside
  • Utilise the queenside pawn majority to create a passed pawn

Black's plan is to:

  • Castle kingside
  • Fianchetto the light square bishop and seek piece play

Source: Dereque Kelly's YouTube video

  • @bof: Ah, the joys of analysing blindfold! Yeah, I must've thought the bishop was on e2. I've changed the line. – user1108 May 18 '16 at 6:49
[fen "r1bqkbnr/pppn1ppp/4p3/8/3PN3/6P1/PPP2P1P/R1BQKBNR b KQkq - 0 5"]

1... Ngf6 (1... Be7 2.Bg2 Ngf6 3. Nxf6 Bxf6 4. Ne2 O-O 5. O-O Rb8 6. Nc3 b5 7. Qd3)2. Nxf6+ (2...Nxf6 3. Bg2 c5 Nf3 Qb6 O-O Be7 dxc5 Bxc5 Ne5 O-O Qe2 Rd8 c3 h6 b4)Qxf6 3. Nf3 Bd6 4. Bg5 Qf5 5. Bd3 Qa5+ 6. Bd2 Qb6 7. Qe2 c5 8. Bc3 cxd4 9. Bxd4 Qa5+ 10. c3 e5 11. O-O-O O-O 12. Be3 Nf6 13. Bb1 Be7 

As you can see, white has a solid plus in each line. If you are playing someone lower rated and/or want to avoid theory, this is a solid option. Although White does not have as big of an advantage, it's easy to play and the position is very comfortable (the variations are all top level games).


1) http://www.russell-enterprises.com/images/frenchrubinsteinexcerpt.pdf - a book on the Rubinstein French from Black's perspective and therefore it aims to list all the possible lines for White, which you can use for inspiration.

2) http://www.amazon.com/Grandmaster-Repertoire-French-Caro-Kann-Philidor/dp/1906552061 - a new repertoire book for White, which includes advice against the French Rubinstein.

  • 3
    This doesn't answer the question as it stands. Can you explain what the plans are for White that are outlined in those books? – user1108 May 11 '16 at 14:41

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