After playing 5.Qb6 which I believe is the final move of the Advance variation of the French, my opponent played 6.a4. I followed with cxd4 and them by cxd4 as well. After that I couldn't remember the best theoretical move so I just played 7.Bd7, as I often find it hard to activate it later on when opening with the French.

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1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. a4 cxd4 7. cxd4 

I analysed the game with Stockfish and looked at the database on 365Chess, and saw that the most played move in this position was 7.Bb4+ which makes sense: developing the bishop with tempo, adding some pressure, without real risk before continuing development. However I let Stockfish run until depth 42 and these were the top 3 moves:

Stockfish analysis

Bb4+ apparently isn't such a good move in this position. Any ideas why ? As I've said, I don't see the problem with playing 7.Bb4+ then 8.Nge7 for example. I acknowledge that it lets the opponent develop their knight on c3 but don't have the chess level to know why it's and advantage for them more than it is for me apparently.

  • I don't know anything about opening (which is very concrete nowadays), so this is only a comment: Positionally speaking, you don't want to exchange your good against his bad bishop. Or any knight. – Hauke Reddmann Mar 6 at 14:57
  • Are you referring to Bd2 in response to my Bb4 ? In that case I agree that this trade is counterintuitive. – Nawra C Mar 6 at 17:59
  • Yes. (But of course, a4 has blocked Qa4+, thus Bd2 just hangs a pawn. As I said, concrete...) – Hauke Reddmann Mar 6 at 20:18

Look at the stockfish lines after Nge7, or, Bd7, or a6. In all of them, black play Na5-b3 sooner or later, and for that the knight on b3 needs the queen's support. In that regard, Bb4+ is really not helping after, say, white plays Nc3 and the bishop on b4 blocks the queen from controlling the b3 square. Apparently Stockfish likes the Na5-b3 maneuver so much that anything else is inferior here.

Actually, a4 is just terrible, so black should easily equalize here with or without Bb4 (from a French player perspective).

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