I have a tournament game tomorrow, and I'm white against a Pirc/French guy. What is the easiest way, learnable in 10 mins or so, to play against it.

In addition to the Pirc question, I play the Tarrasch usually, but I am looking for something more active.

  • 10
    I'd say, a fixed bayonet and a blood-curdling battle cry.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 23:47
  • 1
    This question is too general and has many correct answers, since "the best way" is as subjective as you can have. Maybe "what scores best" or "what has more wins" is a better question. Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 23:51
  • Are you suggesting beating up the player, because that is sure what this implies. If not, the answer is the method called checkmate Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 19:24

3 Answers 3


Mate, please... What do you want to learn in 10 minutes? Be serious... People spend years on learning openings. The French is complicated.

But well, to the question: if you have no idea about french and your opponent is familiar with it, you have 2 choices:

a) Play the exchange variation:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. Bd3 Bd6 5. Qf3 Nf6 6. h3 O-O 7. Ne2 Be6 8. O-O c6 9. Bf4

The point is to exchange the dark-squared bishops because white's one is a bit worse than black's one. It's a tiny tiny tiny tiny plus. If you manage to get an ending with a Knight vs light-squared bishop you have chances to win.

b) The other choice is... to play something crazy. Go for 1. b4 or 1. f4 or 1. g4. There are many "unusual" variations around. You know, he knows the French, you don't. It's better to get an unusual position that you both don't know or even you know a little bit about.

  • No he doesn't know, unfortunately?( wait what ) i was mainly looking for something tactical.
    – MikhailTal
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 8:00
  • 1
    @MikhailTal, the op points that you can't expect to learn anything mind blogging in a few minutes, and specially not a tactical opening. Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 8:35
  • Its not that, I just wanted a few points in the french. I normally play the Tarasch in it, but I wanted to try something much more active.
    – MikhailTal
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 11:30
  • 1
    The advice "b)" is a very bad one imho. Even if your opponent plays the French, there's no reason to assume that he knows all about it. And even if he did, that should not stop you from getting a reasonable game. On the other hand, he may know how to face 1.b4 or 1.f4, and then you would land not only in a position you have hastily look at, but in a dubious one on top of it.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 16:04
  • We can be 99.99% sure the oponent does NOT know everything about French. But he plays French, he knows pawn structures, typical plans. Doesn't matter he might lack knowledge in some side-lines. If somebody asks for opening-in-10-minutes you don't usually tell him to learn French with 3. Nc3 but rather some side, positional lines. Once again, "opening in 10 minutes" is a nonsense.
    – Pijotrek
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 20:47

I don't think you can learn anything properly in 10 minutes, but if you want a tactical line that leads to slightly offbeat positions, the I've got one for you.

The line in question is the so called Milner-Barry gambit. It goes as:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. Bd3 Bd7 7. O-O cxd4 8. cxd4 Nxd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4 10. Nc3

The idea is to keep the black king in the center and harass him way before he has time of developing the pieces to any active square. In case of an early castling or even castling in not the best conditions, white already has his whole army looking at the kingside and the attack is very powerful.

Keep in mind that this is a gambit, so one cannot in general stick to standard development, but usual moves in this positions are Qg4, Re1 and benefit from the pin of the e6 pawn, as at some point black will take on e5, Kh1 and f4 with ideas of f5 and blasting open the position. If Qg4 is not played, then Qe2 is another useful post for the queen.

This is a gambit that has an all right reputation, but is not seen at top level since it doesn't offer anything special with correct play by black. Against unprepared opponents, they usually think that the pawn sacrifice is actually a blunder (so many pawns are lost everyday against the French with the Advance variation), and do not defend correctly against the following attack, which allows for a quick sweep in case of black playing Bc5, Ne7 and 0-0 as white's attack is deadly.

  • 2
    I'd say this is exactly the kind of line you don't want to learn in 10 minutes. French players are usually well prepared for this gambit. Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 17:50
  • Is there any line that you can learn in 10 minutes? I'm no expert on this line, but I've seen good French players fell to it because they thought the pawn was dropped, not sacrificed, and got too confident. Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 18:40

I am having a similar problem planning my strategies against various defenses.

I know for sure that I wont play a main line and never allow the Winawer.

Depending on the player, I might go for a King's Indian attack set up with 2)p-q3 and a fianchettoed king bishop.

On the alternative, I might switch to something else than 1)p-k4

Again, this depends on what I know about the other player and it would depend on your preferred style/comfort with various set ups.

I might even start with the English or something else.

But I am still thinking about exchange variation, or 2)p-qb4 and maybe even 2)q-k2.

  • 1
    I don't know why this has been downvoted twice. If a system can be quite safely prepared in ten minutes and probably provide decent positions, it might well be the King's Indian Attack.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Nov 4, 2017 at 16:10

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