Why isn't 5. f4 considered a strong move in the main line French Advance, after

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1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6  

Everyone plays 5. Nf3 here, but isn't it logical to support e5 with a Pawn and later 6. Nf3, as it is for example in the Steinitz Variation of the Classical French, after

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1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3
  • 2
    You need to develop your pieces. Black is already a piece ahead in development. In the second diagram playing e5 gains time, forcing Nd7.
    – magd
    Commented Aug 24, 2019 at 14:16

2 Answers 2


After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.f4, black can put white's center under pressure very quickly. For example, after 5....Nh6 6.Nf3, black is already better after 6....Qb6 or 6....cxd4 7.cxd4 Nf5.

In contrast, one of the main lines of the Tarrasch variation goes 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3. In this line, white has a firm grip on the center, while black cannot manoeuvre Nd7 to the outpost on f5.

      [StartPly "4"]

      [FEN ""]
      1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 (3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3) c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.f4 Nh6 6.Nf3 cxd4 (6...Qb6) 7.cxd4 Nf5


In the Advance French, you are already down development. You can't waste time with 5.f4, which gives Black a large initiative with ...Qb6. Thus, the best move is Nf3.

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