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Atlantic Open, 2 Exchange French Defenses

Hi All Just played in the Atlantic Open this weekend.  

 My results were mediocre with  1w,1l and 2d but it was fun.   I met a good friend there who hasn’t played in an OTB tournament since high school and that made it really fun.  It was also cool walking around DC between rounds.  Found a good bar that had great food (Stoney’s)!

 I thought I had 2 games that would be worth sharing because both my games on black were Exchange French’s.  When I play at the club just about everyone plays the Exchange French Defense on white and just about all my friends do as well.  The typical reason people tell me they play the Exchange French is 1.  Do not know French lines. 2.  Want to play for a draw.  I will say however there are exceptions and I know one very strong crazy attacking player who plays the Exchange French from the white side and typically plays an early c4.

In general though the Exchange French certainly has a reputation for being drawish:  It starts off as 1.e4, e6 2.d4, d5 3.exd, exd:  a perfectly symmetrical position.  Many black French Defense players dislike playing against an Exchange French vs. a significantly lower rated player or situation where a win is needed.  So from the black perspective what do you do?  Well one of the first ideas for the black side I learned was from IM Vince McCambridge.  About 17 years ago when I was a student at Wake Forest University, McCambridge popped into the Wake Forest chess club one day and mentioned the plan of placing the black knight on e7 then trading off whites powerful bishop on d3 with bf5.  It was an idea that has stuck with me for a long time.  The plan looks something like this below.

“McCambridge suggestion”

 

 

A nice idea but what else can you do on black and what if white doesn’t allow that plan or follows a different structure?  The two games below show some different ideas.  In the first game I try for active piece play with an early …c5 and say to hell with having an isolated queen pawn.  In the second game incredibly the position is almost exactly symmetrical still after 10 moves besides white having a pawn on h3.  Despite however being symmetrical for 10 moves it turns into quite an interesting back and forth struggle.

Finally I was curious of other opinions on how to play from the black side vs. the Exchange French when you want to play for a win.    

 

Comments


  • 3 years ago

    sidpn

  • 4 years ago

    PSwaney

    Nice examples! I enjoyed all of the games...

  • 4 years ago

    anandhakumaran

    good game.............

  • 4 years ago

    jemptymethod

    1800+ players interested in these lines, please consider joining the following tournament:

    http://www.chess.com/tournament/french-defense-exchange-variation3

    Interestingly my interest in the French exchange largely came about as a result of the following move order:

  • 4 years ago

    NM SHoshall

    True Matt, Qd5 would be a sneaky strategy in 1 minute.

    Also one other comment on the queen side storm in the second game.  Typical chess dogma says that if the center is not closed or you don't have control over the center its risky to launch an attack on the wings.  I for one love going against dogma but in this case I think black had the better probabilities to get the better game after this and control prime real estate in the center  + the only open file.

    Blacks flaw in the second game was underestimating whites counterplay with the queens off the board and doing nothing about it until it was too late.  

  • 4 years ago

    mrave

    Incidentally 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5!? is very interesting in bullet since people who play the exchange French on white almost always play 4. Bd3 using premove, and you can then munch the g-pawn with your queen.

  • 4 years ago

    Jpatrick

    On the White side of a French Defense, Exchange variation, I recommend 4.c4  The resulting positions are similar in spirit to the Caro-Kann Panov attack.  White should be prepared to get an isolated d Pawn, and should seek piece activity and the initiative. 

  • 4 years ago

    NM SHoshall

    Raymond,  No I've never thought of playing 3....qxd5.  Looks very interesting. Only 500 games in my database w/ that line compared to over 35000 w/ pxp.  

    Nakamura played 3...qxd5 vs a 2450 player in 07 but it looked like to me he was getting crushed.

  • 4 years ago

    Raymond

    Shawn,

    have you ever considered 3...Qxd5 !? White is a bit better but the pawn structure is not as static. E.g. 4.Nc3 Bb4 5. Nf3 b6!?

    This may be an effective way to play against weaker players looking for a draw.

  • 4 years ago

    NM SHoshall

    thx Adam, Nice Icon!  I think you have it right.  castling long was innacurate by white and  that gave black an advantage.  i think particularly so because it allowed black to play  nb6 with tempo because black was threatening the "a" pawn with the knight and then black could jump a knight in the c4 square .  I dont think white would be better after 0-0.  Black has his pieces aiming at the kingside and could still play down the center of the board as well on a white 0-0.  I actually think at that point in the game black had gained his tempo back on white because white's h3 was not a useful move.  but castling short would have kept the game unclear/ equal imo and probably made even more intense.

    Yes I also agree that black has some compensation if white grabs the pawn in the b7 sideline in the second game.  Black gets a tempo developing the black knight a 1/2 open b file and the white queen will eventually be forced to move again  ( Not to mention black is successful in eliminating white's white squared bishop).  Nevertheless I think its not enough for the pawn in this position and white should be able to consolidate. 

  • 4 years ago

    NM SHoshall

    sclukey... thanks hopefully they are at least examples of somewhat symmetrical supposedly drawish positions getting interesting.

    greenlaser... I did recently read about Colas.  I saw he drew GM Rhode in his last tournament and beat another NM.  I know he has also beaten IM Bonin.  In a blurb I read as well he is on pace to become the youngest African American NM ever by a longshot.  

    We went over the game after we played and I can tell you he was a great good natured young man. I'm honored to play him because i know he will be a very strong player soon. I'm amazed at not only how good these young kids are but how much more mature and better acting they are than when I was playing in highschool!

  • 4 years ago

    NM GreenLaser

    This McCambridge suggestion was the method preferred by Max Euwe in his opening books. Notice if 8.Bg5, Black has 8...f6. Euwe liked this setup for both sides.

    Your opponent in the second game, Josh Colas, is eleven and on his way to becoming a master. On Aug. 7, he defeated a FIDE Master in Trinidad.

  • 4 years ago

    sclukey

    Thanx for sharing these games, they are entertaining and even a bit instructive. Can't say I play the Exchange variation much I prefer to play the Korchnoi Gambit as white and as black I really don't play French at all, I am more prone to play Sicilian, but, hey, maybe now I've read this, I'll try my luck at the French sometime.

  • 4 years ago

    NM SHoshall

    Hey Matt, thx for comment. Yep i know thats what you do.  I don't think black has to allow massive piece trades on the e-file though which is one possible suggestion to keep the game more complex.

  • 4 years ago

    mrave

    I have played hundreds of exchange French's on both sides in blitz.  Most of the time I follow the McCambridge plan; in addition I castle 0-0 and put the Queen's knight to f8 (via d7).  Then most of the time there is a massive heavy piece exchange on the e-file and there typically will be a 2N vs. 2N endgame.  Since I feel more comfortable in the endgame anyway, this suits me.  Since I am very familiar with it, I play identically on white with an extra tempo!

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