I have been looking all over the web for a good way to counter the french defense, but nothing really helps. If you have any suggestions please tell me.

  • 3
    Without further explanation, the answers can create be a catalog of various plausible lines against the French Defense. What kind of positions do you want to reach ? Have you considered getting a copy of one of the scores of opening books and dvd's on the French defense ? – Evargalo Mar 7 '19 at 16:07

The main problem you have playing against the French as white, particularly if you don't play it as black, is that there is just so much theory to learn. If you try and play either the Tarrasch or the Winawer you don't know if you are going to get a wild tactical game or end up in a tame, boring Rubinstein. Your opponent makes the choice. Even if your opponent declines to play 3 ... de there are still many ways for black to play and they are ways where one small error can lead to an instant lost game.

Your best bet then is to either play the Advance variation with 3. e5 or the more boring Exchange variation with 3. ed. The Advance gives more scope for tactical play and the Exchange more scope for positional play, although you can still have sharp games in the Exchange. They just tend to have a longer fuse. Either one will leave you much less to learn than either the Tarrasch or Winawer with much less chance of a quick loss.

Whichever one you choose learn it thoroughly and stick with it.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Why did this answer get a downvote? It seems perfectly fine to me. – Brandon_J Mar 7 '19 at 20:23
  • @Brandon_J I have a stalker who goes round gratuitously voting down my answers. It makes him feel better for a short period but doesn't provide the long term cure that proper professional psychological help would provide. – Brian Towers Mar 8 '19 at 0:11
  • Huh. Doesn't a StackExchange algorithm detect that sort of thing? – Brandon_J Mar 8 '19 at 0:27

The latest I am aware of is: "Grandmaster Repertoire: 1.e4 vs The French, Caro-Kann and Philidor" by Parimarjan Negi

As with any opening, ultimately you would like to have 3 ways to play: 1. A non-theoretical line; 2. A must win line - might be highly theoretical; 3. A safe "draw or win" line.

And of course it comes down to playing positions you are comfortable with.

Most opening books are from the Black perspective but there are a ton of books on beating the French which suggests you are not the only one who finds it pesky. Personally, I tried everything against the French, including creating a novelty line against it; and all the lines are good! You just have to accept that the French is a solid opening and play chess.

3.Nc3 is thought to be the best line but this book suggests 3.Nd2: How to Beat the French Defence: The essential guide to the Tarrasch by Andreas Dr Tzermiadianos

Kasimdzhanov has 3(!) DVDs on beating the French

| improve this answer | |

I don't even bother with the theory as white since if they are playing the french they probably know all the main lines. I even play the French as black.

I play exchange variation with castle queen side. That is most likely to get them out of book if they are not a strong player, and still leads to a sharp position.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.