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Books and Reviews

The games collections of Botvinnik and Korchnoi contain some model examples of how to play the French as Black. On the other hand, if you want to be a 'French killer' as White the games of Anand, Smyslov and Karpov are worth investigation.

If you have Chessbase, do a search for the French games of the players mentioned above plus other specialists like Vaganian, Bareev, Nogueiras and Morozevich. Play through the games and try to absorb the ideas and principles at work behind the moves.

Also extremely useful is the Informator series. You will find recent French games between world class players like Kasparov and Short, normally with detailed notes by the winner. The drawback is that there is no verbal assessment of games or explanation of strategy. However, if you read the notes carefully you will find that the symbols and analysis in fact convey a surprising amount of information about the strategy behind the moves.

Regarding general works on the French, recent book are often discussed in some detail on our excellent French Forum, but first I shall blow my own trumpet by mentioning the book Mastering the French by Neil McDonald and Andrew Harley (Batsford), 1997. This work sets out to explain all the principles and ideas in the French and also contains a complete repertoire for Black.

Regarding specialist monographs and general reference books, I would recommend the following for use in combination with the website. They will give you the basic foundations of your repertoire, while the website will introduce new ideas and correct the inevitable mistakes to be found in the books.

A useful reference book for both sides is The Complete French by Psakhis (Batsford), 1992.

The most well known repertoire book for Black is John Watson's classic Play the French [New Edition], (Everyman). This book is a dream for the club and tournament player who is pressed for time -everything you need to know against 1 e4 in one volume!

Specialist books on: The Winawer French C18-19, by Korchnoi, (Informator), 1993, is a languageless monograph on the mainline Winawer after 6 bxc3. A useful reference work. My forthcoming book on the French Winawer should be available early next year!

The Tarrasch. French C05-06, Bareev (Informator), 1995. Covers the 3...Nf6 Tarrasch only. In similar style to the Winawer book mentioned above.

The French Tarrasch, Emms (Batsford), 1998. A very popular work, this complements Bareev's book above.

The Modern French Tarrasch, E.Gufeld (Cadogan), 1996. This examines lines after 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 c5 4 exd5 Qxd5. This is nice and clear on all the subvariations, but after the 'bomb' in Adams-Dreev, page 134 in this book, check the website for the latest on the 'ultra mainline'.