I am a French player as black. I am having problems in lines where white advances their e pawn and plays f4 to defend e5. I feel like the break on f6 is useless. I am afraid to castle short. My bad bishop gets trapped and in general I get a misdevelopment of my pieces while I cannot stop white's space opening in queenside.

Here is a game I played today against a FIDE Master (FM).

[FEN ""]
[White "Fide Master Urriza (2289)"]
[Black "Manuel Ignacio Muro Sabater (1637)"]
[startply "9"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7.Ndf3 cxd4 8. cxd4 Qb6 9. g3  Bb4+ 10. Kf2 f6 (10...g5 {very strong move suggested in answers that opens the position with good perspectives for black})  11. Kg2 Kf7 12. Bd3 Nf8 13. Ne2 Ng6 14. h4 h5 15. a3 Be7 16. b4 Bd7 17. Nc3 Rac8 18. Bb2 a6 19. Na4 Qa7 20. Rf1 f5 21. Nc5 Bxc5 22. dxc5 Nce7 (22...Nge7 23. Ng5+ Ke8 24. Be2 g6) 23. Ng5+ Kf8 Be2 1-0

If I had moved the other knight in words of the FIDE Master "White has still some work", but my position was suffocating, an engine gives an advantage for white practically all the game.

How could I develop better my pieces in lines with f4 in the French?


You're playing a very sharp opening line that only works thanks to the option of playing 10...g5!. You should only enter this type of position if you're aware of what you're doing. Otherwise you'd be better sticking to quieter, easier positions. If you choose to play a theory-heavy line, then you should definitely know the theory first!

  • 5
    Of course if you don't know the theory in the first place, you couldn't know that it was a theory heavy line.
    – jf328
    May 24 at 1:19
  • Very strong move that profites the position of white's king and finish with my development troubles. Noted for further times I face this position. Thanks coach! May 24 at 10:02
  • @jf328 You can. I don't know much about the Najdorf but I know it has a lot of theory
    – David
    May 24 at 12:08

I am pretty sure the first 10 moves are pretty ok, but after Kg2 you are supposed to play either 0-0 or g5 (maybe some other moves are fine too; fxe fxe 0-0 is also not too bad I suppose), but Kf7 looks weird. Generally, in this line black is indeed suffocating unless he sacs a knight on e5 to open up files in the middle and then attack the white king. I remember a few games by Korchnoi in this line; feel free to check your favourite database.

On a different note, I know Bb4+ has been played multiple times, but I could never figure out myself why the bishop on b4 is placed better than on e7...


The problems you are mentioning are real and the line you are playing is more or less dubious. That's the price to pay, if you are insist to opt for a loong fighting game with black. Your choice.

I haven't checked with an engine, but what you did looked not that bad from the outset -- except for 11..Kf7.

Although it is a closed position, it is highly dynamic. You must act quickly and with determination, or white's attack on the king side will come.

White also really like to suffocate you with a3,b4 here. This must be always on your radar and you need a good answer for that. Best is, to play a5 as early as possible and then sooner or later ..a4. If white has played b4, challenge that with a5.

The next top priority is to develop the queen side and reroute the knight on d7. We have seen that it does nothing on g6 and is also only a target there. Typical could be to play Qc7, Nb6, Bd7. Another option is sometimes the funny Nb8! and then Na6, as I have learned from Stockfish. Rook can go to b8 or c8. Knight can go via a5 to c4. In a later stage you can activate your b-pawn.

Don't be shy and don't underestimate your potential on the queenside. If white does nothing but waiting, eventually you will come to him. And then you win.

Old FM Roese (https://lichess.org/@/fiskaren)

  • What is the last line a reference to (for this post)? What is the purpose of it? E.g., is that you or somebody else? Is it a kind of source? Can you make it more clear, e.g. by editing your answer (without "Edit:", "Update:", or similar - the answer should appear as if it was written today)? May 25 at 11:47
  • As of my understanding of chess, in closed postions it is quite useful to have a repertoire of maneuvers at hand, to ponder over. And since Nb8 looks funny, i just wanted to give that sugggestion a bit more credibility, by reporting that were was some similar postions were it really was best, as shown by stockfish. Of course i missed the best idea (10..g5), so speaking of this postion only, this comment is just obsolet. That's the nature of chess (sigh). One critical move can change the nature of the position completely.
    – user27863
    May 25 at 20:05

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