What is the best way to respond in the French Defense to 2. e5? It has to be wrong to play this way. I am of the opinion that d5 is a good answer. I can find no reference to this move in MCO.


3 Answers 3


Respond with 2... d5. If White plays 3. exd6, then 3.. Bd6. White has wasted 3 moves on the e-pawn, and after that Black has one piece developed against white's zero.

Normally White just follows 2... d5 with 3. d4 and we're back into the regular French Defence advanced variation.

  • 1
    Since 3.exd6 Bxd6 is so bad for White, why allow White to transpose to a normal French by playing 2...d5? Why not just play 2...d6? Does White then have anything much better than 3.exd6?
    – bof
    Dec 2, 2020 at 14:01

This is known as the Steinitz Attack, and he won several quite nice games with it. Against ..d6 or..d5 he took and played on the dark squares with d4, f4, Qe2, b3, Bb2, Ne5, Rae1,.. Much more than this I do not know, but it seems that it cant be all that bad.

  • 3
    It's a common psychological trap of weird opening moves which are "anti-positional" but tactically sound that they are precisely "not all that bad" - but the opponent feels enticed to show that they are and overextends. At least at non-professional levels, where players don't have the skill to win a game off of just one positional inaccuracy.
    – Annatar
    Dec 2, 2020 at 8:00
  1. e4 is an opening that controls d5. By playing e6 as black, you are fighting for d5 as well, without playing ...d5 immediately and risking your queen getting hit. With white playing e5, it's just a bad move. I don't understand why someone would play it, as it weakens control of d5 and f5, moves the same piece twice, and weakens the pawn overall. I can only see how e5 shapes kind of a premature Advanced French C02, or if you play ...d5, they would take by en passant. The most popular move played here is ...d6 and ...d5; ...d6 trying to undermine white's e5 pawn, as you can't do that in the advance variation, and continuing with ...d5, which is the main point of the french. Another move the engine recommends is ...c5, which I can only see prevents white from playing d4, because then 1. e4 e6 2. e5 c5 3. d4 cxd4 4. qxd4 nc6 might lead to some sicilian type game.

tldr: 2. e5 is a weird move in my opinion, and you can either try to get rid of the pawn with ...d6, continue with the main point of the french ...d5, or play ...c5, a more aggressive move that controls the center.

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