39 votes

Why is the French defence not played at the highest level?

Peter Svidler answered this in a recent video for Chess24: Why do the majority of GMs and almost all super-GMs play 1…e5 or 1…c5 in answer to 1.e4 rather than the French Defence (1…e6)? ...
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23 votes
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Why is the French defence not played at the highest level?

Why is the French defence not played at the highest level? If you consider any statistically small (~20) sample of chess players, regardless of standard, then you will get clustering of openings ...
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  • 75.7k
15 votes

Why is Leela so good at beating Stockfish in the French/Slav?

Well, it is a small sample, but assuming that there are a lot more games like these, I think it could be the following things. First, I am not sure when we first humans first decided that space was ...
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  • 31.9k
14 votes
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How does the "French Defense, Winawer Variation, Fingerslip Variation" get its name?

According to "The Batsford Guide to Chess Openings" by Leonard Barden and Tim Harding: "This move had its introduction into master play as the result of a fingerslip by Alekhine against Flohr, at ...
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  • 4,031
13 votes

Why not 5.Bd2 in the French Defense: Exchange Variation?

It appears to be 4...Bb4+ that's the unusual move here. The chess.com database only shows one game with it, and that's the game that continued with 5.c3. When you have the position after Bb4+ on the ...
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  • 15.2k
11 votes
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What is wrong with f2-f4 against the French Defense?

Grandmaster Igor Glek wrote a survey about 1. e4 e5 2. f4 in Secrets of Opening Surprises, volume 8 (2008). Some quotes: With 2. f4 we return to the nineteenth century, when modern chess ...
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11 votes

Why is Leela so good at beating Stockfish in the French/Slav?

Because of the enormous skill difference between these computers and humans, any kind of analysis will inevitably be post-hoc. We can tell ourselves stories about how "Stockfish should have [insert ...
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11 votes

Why is Leela so good at beating Stockfish in the French/Slav?

Generally speaking, Leela tends to have a better "intuition" and Stockfish is very good at brute force calculations. So in a structure like the French/Caro-Kann, where calculation becomes less ...
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11 votes
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Development problems for black after f4 in French Defence

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 ...
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  • 13.1k
10 votes

Why is the French defence not played at the highest level?

I'm a French Defense player. As Peter Svidler opined in his interview on Chess24, "If the white player would prefer a quiet life he will find it harder to find a quiet life in the French than in the ...
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  • 3,187
10 votes
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Seeking in-depth coverage of this French defense sideline

There's a 12-page chapter on this position in Cristoph Wisneski's "Play 1...Nc6!: A complete chess opening repertoire for Black." In that book it's reached via 1.e4 Nc6, 2.d4 d5, 3.Nc3 e6. More ...
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  • 1,048
9 votes
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What is the rationale behind Black playing e6 in so many openings?

In the French Defense, the modest pawn advance in e6 simply plans to challenge the e4-pawn by d5, without having to recapture with the Queen after a possible capture in d5. The idea is thus similar to ...
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  • 3,465
8 votes
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Why is the f6 pawn break in Advanced French so important for black?

I am new to french (so forgive me if the question seems elementary) I've just came across the pawn break f6 for black in the french advance variation, and I find the pawn break quite dubious for me ...
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8 votes
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What is a good plan for white against the Rubinstein variation in the French defense?

INTRODUCTION: You did not have to award a bounty, all you had to do is ask me to expand on my comment. I would have posted this answer. To be honest, I thought that you found the line and solved ...
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8 votes

Why is Na5 not played in this line of the French Defense, Advance Variation?

The Nbd2 --> Nc4 plan to protect the bishop doesn't work because c4 is attacked by black's pawn. Stockfish takes a more direct route to kick the pin: [fen "r1b1kb1r/pp3ppp/1q2p3/n2pPn2/1P1P4/P4N2/...
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  • 1,999
8 votes
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Why is Na5 not played in this line of the French Defense, Advance Variation?

The plan you outlined with ...Bd7, ...Rc8, ...Nc4 is a good strategical plan, but there are a few concrete reasons it doesn't work well: In the opening you should be focusing on developing all your ...
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8 votes
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French defense: Key ideas on the Winawer

Since the question is posed very generally, I'll only give a rough overview of some of the more typical ideas behind the Winawer for black. I'll mostly focus on positions after 4.e5 as that is the key ...
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  • 11.8k
8 votes

How this game is denoted as French Advanced Variation?

I apologize for posting a comment as an answer, but this is the only way for me to include diagrams, which I find helpful. You have entered Advanced French defense by transposition. After 1.e4 d5 2....
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7 votes

What are books about the French Defence which feature a Black repertoire that tends to lead to solid/positional/closed/slow/quiet/strategic positions?

There are several excellent books covering the French Defense. Unfortunately, you cannot avoid complications, despite how much you want to, there are going to be complications, just because you play ...
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  • 2,247
7 votes

What is the best way to beat a French?

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 ...
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  • 1,052
7 votes

Why is the Exchange French considered drawish?

Well, first, when you are lower-rated, there really is no opening that can be considered drawish since it takes a fair amount of skill to be able to draw at will. That is often a skill associated more ...
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  • 31.9k
7 votes

Seeking in-depth coverage of this French defense sideline

There's also a chapter on it in "Dangerous Weapons: French" by John Watson from Everyman (2007)
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6 votes

Castling in the French Defense

If you can block the pawn structure on the queenside then you can consider castling queenside, for example in this line [StartPly "12"] [White "White"] [Black "Black&...
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  • 1,755
6 votes

Reference for good French Defense games?

First, you need to narrow down your scope a bit. The French Defense has a massive amount of theory and you only need to learn a small portion of that to play it competitively. You'll most commonly ...
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  • 7,388
6 votes

Why is it a good idea to retreat the bishop into the pawn chain in this variation of the Caro Kann?

The immediate point of Bd7 versus Bg6 is to prevent White from playing 6 e6 which could give Black's King a lot of trouble. Generally, Black cannot entirely avoid White's g4 anyway (it's always a ...
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  • 61
6 votes
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Why doesn't white play Bd2 after this ...Qa5+?

The point here is that Bd2 blocks your queen's mobility and also leaves the defense of the d4 square. So after say Qb6 you pretty much have to go back with Be3, which will move closer to a draw by ...
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  • 693
6 votes
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Why isn't 5. f4 considered strong in the French Advance, main line?

After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.f4, black can put white's center under pressure very quickly. For example, after 5....Nh6 6.Nf3, black is already better after 6....Qb6 or 6....cxd4 7.cxd4 Nf5....
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  • 5,438
6 votes

How to play the French as White

Three most common replies to the French are 3.Nc3, 3.Nd2 and 3.e5, in your question you are ruling out 3.Nc3 and 3.e5, so 3.Nd2, the Tarrasch, seems like a natural suggestion, and it is less sharp ...
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  • 6,478
6 votes

Franco-Sicilian Defense Theory

It is certainly playable. The main drawback is that you give White the choice between two very different mainline openings: 3.Nf3 transposes to a Sicilian, where Black is already committed to e6 (Kan,...
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  • 270
6 votes

Development problems for black after f4 in French Defence

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 ...
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  • 1,306

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