Welcome to my French Defense games page!

On this page I display links to my chess games in which I played either side of the French Defense.

The games include analysis and diagrams. I rarely play the French Defense as Black but sometimes do transpose into it from another opening. As White, I play the Advanced Variation and try for the Milner-Barry Gambit. The French Defense starts off with 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5. White has several options here and the most typical ones are the Advanced Variation with 3. e5 or 3. Nc3 or 3. Nd2. I always play 3. e5. Another option for White is the Exchange Variation with 3. exd5, which is rather drawish. A typical game in the Advanced Variation would go something like this:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 5... Qb6

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 5… Qb6

When playing the Advanced Variation, this is the position that I most often see. Although White can play 6. Be2, 6. Bd3 is more common here and is what I usually play.

6. Bd3 cxd4 7. cxd4

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 7. Cxd4

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 7. Cxd4

There is a nifty little trap here if Black gets greedy and grabs the pawn on d4. For example, if 7… Nxd4 8. Nxd4 Qxd4 then 9. Bb5+!! wins the Black Queen.

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 9. Bb5+!!

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 9. Bb5+!!

So, Back has to play 7… Bd7 first in order to prevent the check when capturing the pawn on d4.

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 7... Bd7.

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 7… Bd7.

Position after 7… Bd7.

8. O-O Nxd4 9. Nxd4 Qxd4

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 9... Qxd4

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 9… Qxd4

White has sacrificed one pawn for a lead in development and is about to sacrifice a second one.

10. Nc3 Qxe5

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 9... Qxe5.

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 9… Qxe5.

The Black Queen has moved three times so far. White has castled and moved two other pieces and thus has a slight lead in development for his two pawns. However, if White’s plan fails he will end up in an endgame down material. White’s attack must be swift and deadly in order to win!

11. Re1 (Forcing the Queen to move again! If 11… Qc7 then 11. Nxd5!) Qb8 12. Qf3

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 12.Qf3

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 12.Qf3

12. Nxd5 is still playable, but this develops a piece and the pawn capture is still there until Black blocks the pin on his e pawn to his King. White also plans to hit the Black Queen again with Bf4. Notice how Black has yet to develop his Kingside!

… Bd6

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 12... Bd6

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 12… Bd6

Black threatens to capture on h2 and discourages White from playing Bf4 now. White can protect his h pawn by playing either h3 or g3, or he can ignore the threat and make some threats of his own. Although I’m not sure of the best move here I’m inclined to play 13. Nxd5 allowing Black to capture on h2.

13. Nxd5 Bxh2+ 14. Kh1 Bd6

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 14... Bd6

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 14… Bd6

White is still down two pawns here but Black still has his Kingside undeveloped and his King is still in the Center of the board. Again, I’m not sure of the best move here but favor playing 15. Bg5.

15. Bg5 Ne7 16. Nxe7 Bxe7 17. Bxe7 Kxe7

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 17... Kxe7.

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 17… Kxe7.

Here White is still down his two pawns and doesn’t seem to have much play left. The Black King is stuck in the Center so that is where White will need to attack! I’m thinking that White had a better move on move 12. Instead of 12. Qf3 how about 12. Qg4?

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 12. Qg4.

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 12. Qg4.

In this position White still has the threat of Bf4 as well as Nxd5. In addition, the Bishop on f8 has to guard the pawn on g7 until the White Queen stops attacking it or Black protects it another way. Now, let see what happens if 12… Ne7.

12… Ne7 13. Bf4 Qc8 14. Rac1

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 14. Rac1.

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 14. Rac1.

I like this much better for White than the previous line! White’s pieces are better placed than Black’s and the Black King is stuck in the Center. White is now threatening to play 15. Nb5 followed by 16. Nc7. Also, the Knight move uncovers the Rook attack on Black’s Queen. If 14… Nc6 to shield the Black Queen from the Rook on c1 then White can capture on d5 with his Knight and c7 becomes a target again. It looks like moving his Queen yet again is Black’s best move here!

… Qd8 15. Nb5!

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 15. Nb5!

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 15. Nb5!

White is clearly better here. Black cannot allow the White Knight to go to c7! Thus, 15… Rc8 still allows 16. Nc7+ and Black loses the exchange after capturing on c7 wih his Rook. So, 15… Bxb5 is forced.

… Bxb5 16. Bxb5+

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 16. Bxb5+.

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 16. Bxb5+.

The Black King cannot move and interposing with the Queen loses the exchange big time so Black must play 16… Nc6.

… Nc6 17. Bxc6 bxc6 18. Rxc6

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 18. Rxc6.

French Defense, Advanced Variation after 18. Rxc6.

Now, White is only down one pawn and the Black King is still in the Center! Both of Black’s rooks are out of play and the Black Bishop is still guarding g7! Black can fianchetto his Bishop and castle. After that, he will be completely developed and have the extra pawn to win the endgame. White must either find a way to keep Black’s King in the Center, find a checkmate, or take advantage of his Queenside majority without losing to Black’s passed pawn in the Center.

The Advanced Variation of the French Defense offers some exciting lines and I plan to continue to play the Milner-Berry Gambit against the French Defense even if I don’t know all of the best lines for White. I get exciting positions and tactical shots. Both sides must play accurately and whomever knows this opening best is going to win.

French Defense Video

This video is the first in a series on the French Defense and this is Part 1 on the Advanced Variation.

And this is Part 2 on the Advanced Variation.


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