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AdvCheck's Take on the French Defense: Classical Variation

Advantage Coaching

Hey, this time I'll be covering the Classical Variation of the French Defense.

If you missed out on my last post you can find it here: http://blog.chess.com/AdvCheck/french5

The Classical Variation: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6

The main reason for playing Nf6 is to provoke white to play 4. e5 which will move into the Steinitz Variation with 4. ... Nfd7 threatening to play 5. ... c5. Otherwise, white can avoid this variation by playing 4. Bg5 which white can respond by playing the Burn Variation 4. Bg5 dxe4 5. Nxe4 (This variation is very similar to the Rubenstein Variation), or by playing the MacCutcheon variation 4. Bg5 Bb4.
The main variation that will be focused on in this post is the Steinitz Variation.
Steinitz Variation:
The Steinitz is a popular variation which is played to avoid the complications of 4. Bg5, and rather white plays 4. e5. The continuation of this line is as follows:
The main idea of the opening is to break through the queenside of white as usually white will castle long and will try to attack your king side. However there are multiple lines black can move into with some being 7. Be3 (Boleslavsky variation) a6 / Qb6 / cxd4.
7. ... a6
One of the strongest moves with 7. ... a6 is seen below:
This line will allow black to still attack through the queenside while still keeping a lot of pressure on the white king from the Bishop on c5 and Queen on b6.
7. ... Qb6
The next move with Qb6 is a strong, powerful move trying to keep pressure on the b2 pawn (which in this case can be taken, however it will give black's king some trouble with 7. ... Qb6 8. Qd2 Qxb2 9. Nb5 threatening to fork black's king and rook). Further this line will allow black to attack through the c file .
7. ... cxd4
Lastly, the 7. ... exd4 line is very similar to the 7. ... a6 line however, white should be long caslted instead, thus allow for the queenside attack on the king rather than having white's king safe on g1. Furthermore, black will have the c file semi open for attack on the c2 pawn once the knight on c3 is attacked by b4.
Past Games:
7. ... a6
7. ... Qb6

7. ... cxd4
Thanks for reading the Classical Variation of the French Defence. The next lines of the French Defence will be released weekly, so stay tuned.
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