I enjoy playing closed positions like the ones from the French Defense, but I despise having to play with the "bad bishop" on c8. I've been trying to research lines in the French where Black manages to quickly trade it off for White's bishop out of the opening, or at least manages to develop it to a reasonable square.

Against the Exchange Variation, there is this:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. Bd3 Bd6 5. Nf3 Ne7 (5... Bg4) 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 Bf5

Against the Classical Variation, there is this:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 Qd7 (4... b6) 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 b6 7. Qg4 f5 8. Qg3 Ba6

Against the Tarrasch Variation, there is this (not gonna cite a specific line, but obviously at some point the bishop can be developed to e6/f5/g4 or traded off for White's bishop on d7):

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 exd5

However, I can't find a satisfactory line for the Two Knights French after:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. d4
  • For completeness sake, how would you trade off the light squared bishop in the Advance variation?
    – Akavall
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 16:59
  • 5 ...b6 though?
    – David
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 18:13
  • 1
    @Akavall Good point! I forgot to include that somehow, there is the Wade Variation where you play 4...Qb6 then Bd7/Bb5.
    – James Ko
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 20:38

1 Answer 1


Not everyone regards "Bad" Bishops as unmitigated evil. Read "The Secret Life of Bad Bishops" by Eben Lund to discover the subtlety of the issues. If you will play the French you must do this. Hopefully you will understand them better than your opponent.

  • 2
    There's the famous phrase "bad bishops defend good pawns." In the french, after playing f6 to undermine white's center, the e6 pawn is a sore weakness in desperate need of a strong defender. Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 4:44

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