ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Hi all, and welcome to May's update in our favourite opening, the French Defence. I would like to apologize for the delay in this update which was mainly due to my hectic work schedule in May. Well, my current audit engagement is finishing so I reckon I should be able to deliver June's update on time. *Fingers crossed*
As a way to make up for the delay, I've analyzed the 7 games in this month's updates in great detail, and really hope you like them and that you, perhaps, pick up an idea or 2 to use in your own games.

Download PGN of May '09 French games

Advance Variation

The 'dangerous weapon' 5...Nh6 has been neglected somewhat in recent updates. Seeing that both "Dangerous Weapons - The French" and "The Flexible French" advocate this system, I thought it is an appropriate time to look at recent developments in this variation:

In keeping up with the tradition of analyzing my (not so great) blitz games, I've included Gwaze - Goh Wei Ming, Emanuel Lasker Arena,, with a couple of other games embedded in the notes.

Guimard Variation

Another game from the 4NCL sees a rare variation in action. The variation with 6.Bd3 and 7.Ng5 is probably the most aggressive and cut-throat variations against the Guimard:

In Plaskett - Berczes, 4NCL 2008-09 Staverton England (11), I've tried to summarize the key ideas and nuances and concluded that Black has absolutely nothing to worry about. However, Black has to be very careful as a single misstep is often enough to lose the game. I've also included a novelty on move 11 which seems like a possible avenue for White to obtain an opening advantage.

Classical McCutcheon Exchange Variation

I haven't received a copy of Neil's latest book on the French but I do know the book contains a chapter on the McCutcheon. I am positively sure that he has used one of his recommendations against one of the few anti-McCutcheon lines in the following game. Can anyone confirm this?

The variation with 5.ed5 used to be one of the safest ways for White to fight for a small edge against the Mac. Well, not any more as Neil convincingly demonstrated how Black can develop an initiative in quick-fire manner:

In King - Mcdonald, 4NCL 2008-09 Staverton England (11), Black played 8...Qa5! and followed one of his annotations on Chesspub, from way back in 2003!

Winawer Poisoned Pawn Variation Special - Part 1

Firstly, my thanks to GM Bogdan Lalic for sending 2 games in the main line with 13.Qxc3:

In both Zivkovic - Zaja, Open A Zagreb 2009, & Smirnov - Arslanov, 16th TCH Russia HL, the players reached the following tabiya:

After a thoroughly enjoyable but mind sapping analysis of the above 2 games, I can't help but think that these lines are not really suited to human beings. In my notes you can see some variations where either color could make a mind boggling quiet move which wins on the spot! General principles just do not apply here, above all, concrete calculations count.

Again, I've tried to put together a small repertoire of critical tactical ideas in this variation and have also referenced Knut Neven's recent article whenever applicable. In general, I think either colour will have good chances given ample preparation.

The game of the month has to be the great battle Karjakin - Kamsky, 4th FIDE GP Nalchik 2009. In this game Kamsky resurrected the ancient variation with 12...d4!?:

This used to be mainly played by the highly original GM Vereslav Eingorn, who is also known for his other "quirky" but effective variations in the French. In a roller coaster game, Kamsky could have won at one stage, couldn't find the decisive move (presumably in time trouble) and then blundered.

In Muzychuk - Zhukova, 10th TCH Russia 2009, I've looked into Khalifmann's recommendation against this variation in "Openings for White according to Anand" and, again, I believe the opening is very much playable.

In the June update we will be looking at the other mainlines in the PP and I hope you will look forward to it.

That's it for May. Do send me your comments and criticisms (politely please) to, or drop me a PM on the forum and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Have fun with your chess!