French defence

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The French defence is a chess opening, one of the asymmetric replies to 1.e4, namely 1...e6. It is the third most popular reply to 1.e4. Often, Black plays more actively on the queenside while White plays more actively on the kingside.

A problem that Black often has in the French defence is finding a way for his light squared bishop to become active.[1] Although this is true, it may not matter if Black knows what he is doing. The defence has a reputation for reliability, and has been played by many great players (such as Botvinnik), and has featured in several world championship matches.

Typical examples go:

Tarrasch variation[change | change source]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 (3...Nf6 is popular) 4.exd5 exd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bb5 Bd6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.0-0 Ne7 and so on. This line is quiet, and mostly about the centre.

Winawer variation[change | change source]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Qc7 (7...0-0 is possible) 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2 and so on. The play in lines like this is strongly asymmetric: White owns the kingside, and Black owns the queenside.

French defence, Winawer variation
Start of chess board.
a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 __ e8 black king f8 __ g8 black rook h8 __
a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black queen d7 __ e7 black knight f7 black pawn g7 __ h7 white queen
a6 __ b6 __ c6 __ d6 __ e6 black pawn f6 __ g6 __ h6 __
a5 __ b5 __ c5 __ d5 black pawn e5 white pawn f5 __ g5 __ h5 __
a4 __ b4 __ c4 __ d4 black pawn e4 __ f4 __ g4 __ h4 __
a3 white pawn b3 __ c3 white pawn d3 __ e3 __ f3 __ g3 __ h3 __
a2 __ b2 __ c2 white pawn d2 __ e2 white knight f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn
a1 white rook b1 __ c1 white bishop d1 __ e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 __ h1 white rook
End of chess board.

References[change | change source]