The following is the French defence, advance variation:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 *

My question is how Black should play his King's Bishop. Any time that Bishop moves the White Queen can go to g4 and force Black to disrupt his King-side castling pawns, e.g. as in the following typical continuation:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 Nc6 5. Qg4 g6 *

Should Black King's Bishop be fianchetoed instead? I think not cause targeting the spearhead of the White's pawn chain doesn't not look very promising, esp. from a fiancheto position where advancing a pawn to f6 lacks g-file pawn support. So, how should Black employ his King's Bishop?

  • do you have any feedback on the answers you got so far? Cheers!
    – user2001
    Feb 7, 2014 at 13:50
  • Please consider accepting an answer or comment what is missing from the answers you got so far! Thanks.
    – user2001
    Feb 12, 2014 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


The starting position is

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5

White has committed with e4-e5 since the e4-d5 tension is lost. In return, white controls the vital squares d6 and f6 for a future attack as well as stopping black from developing normally. The e5 pawn has its pawn base on d4. The critical line for black in this variation is to build up a pressure against the d4-square. The f7-f6 break will also come into consideration. The variation can go like this

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.a3 a5

Black decides to wait with the Bf8 and focus on building a pressure on d4. After a future f7-f6, the Bf8 can choose between Bf8-e7 and Bf8-d6. In general, the Bf8 already has an important role, because it controls the f8-a3 diagonal and is ready to recapture with Bf8xc5. So there is no need for it to move at all until the situation in the center is more clear.

  • I've seen 6...a6 played frequently & like the fact that it prevents white from putting a knight or bishop on b5. What do you think of this move compared to 6...a5?
    – Ralph
    Feb 7, 2014 at 2:38
  • 2
    @Ralph After 6.a3, white is planning a future dxc5 Bxc5 followed by b2-b4, kicking the black Bc5 and winning control over the g1-a7 diagonal. My evaluation is that the g1-a7 diagonal is more important than the b5-square. Besides, white has placed pawns on a3 and c3, which stops Nb1-c3-b5 and Nb1-a3-b5. Thus, white has to use Queen+Bf1 to control b5 and black has Bc8-d7 to counter this idea. Therefore, 6...a5 seems stronger and more to the point.
    – user2001
    Feb 7, 2014 at 8:35

First off, your second variation is bad-on Bb4+ White responds with c3 and gets a free tempo.

As for your question, bishop is always placed on e7. In some lines when Black plays Nh6 and White captures Bxh6 Black can put it on g7. Still, bishop always goes to e7 in the Advance variation.

To help you properly play the advance I recommend you the book Nikita Vitiugov-A Complete French ( 2010 ). And here are the proper moves for the Advance variation from Black's point of view :

[fen ""]

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

and here White has many choices. Since I do not have enough space to cover all of them I suggest you the above book. It covers the Advance variation very well in my opinion.

Best regards.

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