The Fighting French: Advance Variation a3 without g4
I'm not going to lie, sometimes the French Defense can be a snooze fest. If White wants to fight for an advantage though, he can come up against some mean counterplay! Let me show you what I'm talking about:
But first let's see what happens if you don't get your mean counterplay. Notice how easily White's forces were able to enter the attack. If Black is not careful in the French, White can use his extra space to conjure up mean attacks. *You've been forewarned* Don't be discouraged if this happens to you, I've played the French for over 10 years and games like below sometime happen to me still. Use it as a learning experience, and know that sometimes you're going to get great counterattacking games yourself.
Now that you've seen what can happen to you if you don't play precisely let's go over some games where Black get his chances!
The full game is shown below. Notice how Black does not give into White's demands and therefore gets fighting chances for himself. Good chess playing means fighting for your OWN ideas, not just countering your opponents. Also notice how the White Bishop moved to e2 so that when it takes the Knight on c4 it has lost a tempo. That's why this maneuver works better if the Bishop on f1 has already moved.