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Welcome to the April 2007 French update.
Although the French doesn't figure as much as it deserves among 2700 players, it has plenty of followers at a slightly less exalted level. This month's update features a lot of games from the German Bundesliga, which seems to be a hive of French (Defence!) activity.

Download PGN of April '07 French games

Tarrasch 3.Nd2 Be7

Some harsh lessons for Black

Let's start this month by examining the wing development of the black knight in the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.Bd3 c5 5.dxc5 Nf6 6.Qe2 0-0 7.Ngf3 a5 8.0-0 Na6 9.e5 Nd7:

You can find analysis of 10.c3 in Holzke - Paehtz, and 10.Nd4 in Baklan - Cvek. Also included in the notes are two games by GM Kotronias, who is an expert on this variation as White. Statistically speaking, Black's results after 8...Na6 have been very poor. Could it be true after all that a knight belongs in the centre!?


A golden rule and a 'bad' line restored

It is essential that Black gets his move order and piece deployment exactly right after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.Be2 Be7 7.Nf1:

It seems that even some titled players are unaware of the correct approach. To see what I mean, click on Saiboulatov - Zaragatski.

Meanwhile the variation 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.c3 f6 7.Bb5 a6 has got a rather bad press as far as Black is concerned- and perhaps it's no wonder when included this month is a 14 move loss as Black by an IM! However, I've attempted to rehabilitate it with the help of Lim Yee Weng-Zhou Weiqi.

Rubinstein: 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7

Glek's knight manoeuvre fails to impress

Next up is 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.g3 Be7 6.Bg2 Ngf6:

One of the annoying things about this variation for Black is the drawish position that results after 7.Nxf6+ Bxf6 8.Nf3 - as you can see in the archives, Morozevich once went crazy trying to create winning chances against Fressinet and was soundly thrashed. The situation is somewhat different in this month's game, as White is the higher rated player. He makes a rather extravagant attempt to make things interesting in Glek - Meier.

Classical: 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5

Part One: A rematch between two Russian Champions

Svidler and Morozevich have resumed battle in the variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 b5 9.a3 Bb7:

It seems that the immediate 9...g5 has been put into cold storage by Morozevich, but as we shall see the spirit of the wing thrust lives on in this month's game. To be fair to Svidler, this was a blindfold game, but it still shows Black's counterattacking potential.

You can see the earlier game, given in the March update, by clicking on Svidler - Morozevich, Wijk while the later game is Svidler - Morozevich, Amber 2007.

Part Two: an important test for a new variation

Last month we examined in detail 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 Be7:

I consider the modest bishop move 7...Be7 to be one of the most interesting new developments in the French. It has certainly attracted the attention of top players. A key reply is 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bd3, which I have analysed in the context of the game Efimenko - Goloshchapov.

Winawer: 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5

A weird king move

Finally this month we take a look at 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5 6.b4 cxd4 7.Qg4 Kf8!?:

Black's king move is highly irregular, as almost everyone without fail prefers 7...Ne7. So is everyone missing out on a brilliant undiscovered idea? It certainly doesn't help the reputation of 7...Kf8 that a GM of 2546 Elo lost as Black against a 2093, though in fact that was nothing to do with the opening [I've included the game with light notes]. Meanwhile, the German GM Henrik Teske has won a couple of games with this, one of which I've analysed as the main game in Thinius - Teske

Anyway, goodbye for now. I hope you enjoyed the update and that your chess is thriving. See you next time!

Best Regards, Neil

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