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what's the beef with this opening? i seem to see it a fair bit and have no idea what to play against it.
Nope it doesn't win a pawn. I see two ways for Black to keep the pawn, one of which is significantly riskier than the other.
I mean if you play c5...white is just going to play exd5 exd5 Nf3 and get a very pleasant version of the isolated pawn at no cost really...because of the lead in development, no matter how small the lead is.
Yeah, this variation isn't very good. BTW I just created a tournament themed for the French Defense register if you're interested at http://www.chess.com/tournament/french-defense27
No need to try to win the pawn immediately.
4...ed 4.Bb5+ (4.dxc5 d4 I think is unnecessary and may be ok for Black anyway) is critical imo but I think Black can make it work. What I liked about it was that if it was playable you could get it in almost every variation of the French other than 3.e5 and some sidelines. It would be good isolated pawn practice.
I played the tarrasch as well to get IQP games with Black but I don't understand the positions when White plays g3...
mm yeah of course it doesn't win a pawn that was silly but the isolated queen pawn seems to just be a weakness for black here is this not so? is this why this variation is unpopular in master games?
so the way to an advantage or whatever is exd5 and then dxc5 and pressure the pawn?
Personally I wait a bit before taking on c5. The pawn is not going to move forward anyways, and no need to give Black ideas of ...d5-d4 to early. It's probably not essential though.
I'm not really sure about 5.dc Nf6 6.Bb5+ Nc6 7.Be3. If the knight moves the d-pawn drops.
I think masters avoid isolated d pawns because they're just really good at neutralising them. When White gets one they can draw. When Black gets one who knows. The only time I think they go for them is if they can get one advantageously in the middlegame and not the opening. But that's just a guess.
I think masters avoid isolated d pawns because they're just really good at neutralising them.
It's not a mystical thing, you know.
An isolani on d4 (d5) against a pawn on e6 (e3) (a very common structure) has the advantadge of giving support points to knights on c5/e5 (c4/e4) and keeping open lines and the disadvantadge of being harder to defend and to have a weak square in front of it.
The question is whether the advantages outweigh the inconvenient, the answer is that it depends on the activity of the pieces. In our case, White is more active, so the isolani is completely unjustified.
I think chess is just changing a lot. In the 70s and 80s even Karpov had some nasty losses against the isolated pawn because of the new d5 idea in the Panov-Botvinnik sacrificing the pawn for an attack. Now you'd have to be crazy to try that against him. Even the games look different. In the past games seemed to make a little sense and you could almost figure out what was going on. Now GMs leave their pieces hanging everywhere and they can't even be captured.
I think this is worth a go though as long as Black can hang on to the pawns.
Referring to the initial question, I think, after the capture exd5, to play e5 is a bad move simply because you already moved the pawn. Its an extra tempo you spend. Yes the pawn on d4 is attacked twice but is that really the best move? I don't think so.
If you play 4...Nf6, then 5.Bb5+ Bd7, 6.dxe6 Bxb5 7.exf7+ Kxf7 8.Nxb5.
Black has a slight disadvantage imo.
This line is bad for black after 4 exd5 exd5 white has 4 moves that all score heavily in whites favor : 5 Nf3 , dxc5, Bb5+ and Be3 .
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