Welcome to the July 2004 French Update.
I hope you managed to play some chess during this busy time of year.
First of all, thanks to Tommy Curry for his email- I'm still thinking about the Haldane Hack. I'll let you know if any inspiration strikes!
The advantage of moving first
I've just been checking out some statistics on the French site and it seems that overall White scores 51% and Black 49%. So I guess there is a little bit of a bias here towards Black, but not quite enough to bring the advantage of moving first into question.
However, like most French players I admit to being prejudiced against the Exchange Variation and like to see it beaten, especially when White has played it blatantly for a draw. Therefore I had little hesitation in choosing the first game here. With his passive set up White plays straight into the hands of Black's fantastic technique in Manole - Gurevich
A brand new idea for Black
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bd7 6.Be2 Nge7 7.Na3:
In the May Update the young Norwegian player Magnus Carlsen was surprised by an offbeat variation of the Advance. This month he again plays the Advance, and this time his opponent plays a move in the mainline that I have never seen before! It seems that everyone is keen to avoid mainline theory against the young maestro, who at 13 years old is already rated 2567. Check out something new in Carlsen - Agdestein.
A universal panacea in the French Tarrasch- or just a heap of complications?
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ngf3
Or 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.c3 Nc6 7.Bd3:
This month we look at two games that feature a rapid ...g7-g5 lunge by Black. In the first of these games Black gets the theory wrong, and is severely punished; in the second game he gets the theory right, but he is still left facing a dangerous attack. These games can be examined by clicking on Van den Doel-Visser and Smirin - Akobian.
There is now a huge amount of theory on what used to be an off beat line. It is by no means easy to remember White's standard attacking responses against various Black moves. Thus there is a unique way of handling the position according to whether Black plays a quick ...Qb6 and ...a7-a5, or tries ...Qb6 and ...g7-g6, or even ...a7-a5 and ...g7-g6 without committing himself to ...Qb6, and so on.
So here is an attempt at using key moves to help us remember the theory.
A quick guide to the Tarrasch Ngf3 System using ChessPub:
- If Black plays Qb6 and captures on d4 then we have the 'old fashioned' method. This is fairly easy to remember as it doesn't transpose into any other lines. See for example Degraeve-Lukov
- Black plays ...Qb6 and ...g7-g6 -- key move dxc5! as in Kasparov-Bareev
- Black plays ...Qb6 with ...a7-a5 -- key move Nb1! as in Nedev-Bauer
- Black plays ...g7-g6 -- key move h2-h4! as in Filipovic-Stojanovic
- Black plays ...a7-a5 and then g7-g6 -- key moves Re1 and h2-h4, as in Smirin-Luther
- Black plays ...g7-g5 without ...a7-a5 -- key move a2-a3! as in Nisipeanu-Volkov
- Black plays ...g7-g5 with ...a7-a5 -- key move g2-g4!? as in Gormally-McDonald.
I hope this makes things a little easier to follow!
Tarrasch 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 a6 [or 3...a6 4.Ngf3 c5]
How to dodge the Tarrasch Ngf3 System
If you want a non-theoretical line that avoids all the 'nonsense' above after 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.c3, I can recommend you throw in the little move 4...a6!? At the cost of an IQP, Black achieves a good centralisation of his pieces and active chances. To whet your appetite here is Olsson - Brynell.
An interesting idea refuted in stunning style
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 a6:
In many variations of the French Defence White delays his development in favour of building a big pawn centre. He trusts that as long as he keeps a firm grip on a couple of key squares, notably d4 and e5, the blocked nature of the centre will prevent Black from launching a rapid counterattack. Most of the time White gets it right, but sometimes he meets an energetic opponent who will stop at nothing to break open the position- and then just a slight slip can bring down a huge attack on White's king. It is for such moments that we play the French as Black- enjoy Fogarasi - Jakab.
An unusual treatment by Black
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.e5 h6 6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.bxc3 Ne4 8.Qg4 g6 9.Bd3 Nxd2 10.Kxd2 c5 11.Nf3
This month we look at an extreme form of the Variation in which Black closes the queenside. It may seem rather passive, but White had better tread carefully or he could end up in a lost endgame. See what you think of Black's strategy in Muhren - Peng.
Aggressive play at the Russian Women's Championship.
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4:
In this age of computer assisted analysis, you would think that the positional pawn sacrifice would be an endangered species. However, the Alekhine-Chathard Attack has never been in better shape. Perhaps for the first time in its history it is regarded as fully sound as well as dangerous. This month we have a convincing win as White by an 18 year old on her way to winning the Russian Women's Championship- here is Kosintseva - Matveeva.
A trip down memory lane and an improvement on move 21
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 0-0
8.Bd3 and 8.Nf3
Black used to have a lot of fun in the days of my youth after 8.Nf3, which explains why it has virtually vanished from tournament play. In the recent FIDE World Championship White tried to revitalise it, but the result just shows why the move was abandoned in the first place- here is Gagunashvili - Lputian.
Much more exact is 8.Bd3! As you can see from the illustrative game, the fact that the white queen can slip all the way back to d1 if necessary is highly useful. A theoretical battle is going on here, with the latest improvement coming at move 21! In particular if you base your repertoire on John Watson's French book you should check out the analysis in Cheparinov - Del Rio Angelis.
Well that's all for now. I hope you can use some of these ideas or at least you enjoyed playing through some good games. I'll try to catch up by delivering the next update in a couple of weeks time.
Good luck! Neil