Recently, I have been very attracted to the French defense, as I feel as though it is perfect for my style. However, I am aware that the French is highly theoretical, which is why I need a good, detailed, and organized way to study the theory and move orders of all the variations. Any suggestions?

  • There's a few sharp lines in the French but overall it's probably one of the least theoretical responses to 1.e4.
    – Savage47
    Mar 28, 2020 at 4:13

1 Answer 1


The fact is that you will need to pick a good book, which is difficult since there are a million books out there on the French.

When starting out with a new opening, picking a book that is heavy on theory is not so important as is a book that presents ideas well. For this purpose, I suggest the book "Mastering the French" by GM Neil McDonald.

I also suggest the book "Winning With the French" by GM Wolfgang Uhlmann. He was probably THE authority on the French during his peak years, and never played anything but the French in response to 1.e4 during his career (or so they say). The book is exclusively taken from 60 of his games, and the explanations are very good, but watching how a master of this opening handles it will be invaluable.

From there, you need to just start taking in one chapter at a time, but not necessarily in order. You want to take the most common lines first since you are more likely to encounter them early on. Spend at least a week on each chapter, and play some blitz games with a friend, who is willing to give you practice in each variation.

You will pick up the main ideas pretty quickly this way.

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