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A rare Continuation in French Opening

Feb 11, 2013, 12:00 AM 17 Opening Theory

Some time ago I showed a game where I got the initiative in the early middle game:


Very nice! you may think, but why mentioning it again? Well, I started the game commentary after the opening. This time I want to spot the opening phase. It was a very rare one in French opening, which was a  recommandation in a John Watson book.(Dangerous weapons: The French)

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nc6!?

Can you believe it? When I played French opening permanently in earlier times it was out of question that here 3. ... Bb4 or 3. ... Nf6 are the only normal and sound moves here. May be that this a correct evaluation, I don`t know. But 3. ... Nc6!? is definitely not so bad and has the advantage to be a big surprise for most of your opponents. Especially in OTB-games.

So, what are the main continuations in move 4? They are (according to the Watson book):

A) 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bg5
B) 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. e5
C) 4. e5

In the game mentioned above my opponent chose Variation B. And I played as recommanded 5. ...Ne4

Here you can see one positive aspect of the knight on c6. It allows that Ne4- move (normally always Nd7), because 6.  Nxe4 dxe4 would win the d4 pawn.
Here again it splits into
B1: 6. Ne2
B2: 6. Bd3
My opponent chose variation B2 and the following moves were more or less consequent
6. ... Bb4  7. Bd2 Nxd2! 8. Qxd2 f6

Black attacks directly the center. This method is very usual in French opening. Black wants the half-open f-file for his rooks and if possible, destroy the white center pawns.
9. a3 ( 9. exf6 Qxf6 10.0-0 Bd7 11. Rae1 0-0-0 =) Bxc3 10. Qxc3 fxe5 11. dxe5 0-0

So, you like it and want to give it a try? So start to play it in your online or live games. And look deeper into the variations I mentioned. Finally, you may try it also in your OTB-games.
Here all from above in one diagram, :

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