My debut on - 3 important games in the French Winawer - Part 1

My debut on - 3 important games in the French Winawer - Part 1

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My first article here would be focused on 3 rather important games from a theoretical standpoint on the French Winawer in the 7.h4 variation, a line that is considered to be highly aggressive and a promising alternative to the 7.Qg4 mainlines. 

I've always found this line annoying and had spent oceans of time finding something that allows Black to fight for the initiative. During the 2012 Olympiad, I had studied John Watson's Play the French 4 where it mentioned a slightly obscure move order that was really meant to confuse and I struck pay dirt in an important game:



4 years later, in a Grandmaster tournament in Kecskemet, I was surprised by my opponent, the hugely experienced Hungarian Grandmaster, Attila Groszpeter with 7.h4, a line he had never played in the database. The game was extremely important as I was on course for my final GM norm and a win would have given me excellent chances to finish the deed. He probably checked my games, found something he liked and decided to go for the surprise value.

It nearly didn't work as my opponent misplayed the opening badly and I was on course for a big win until a complete disaster happened....



What a horrible, horrible way to end the game, and with it, my norm chances! Still, life is tough and it is normal to face this type of set-back. Even though I lost the game, I had felt very comfortable from the opening and thought that the line holds and did not bother to go through the line again.

But alas, the theoretical dispute continued 6 months later, in an absolutely vital game that I desperately must not lose to keep yet another norm chance alive. This game was played against GM Sebastien Maze, a rising star in the French chess community. The tournament in question is the Xtracon Chess open, formerly known as the Politiken Cup and in this game, Maze found an important theoretical novelty that was too hot for me to handle.


It looks we've reached the end of the theoretical discussion of 9...cxd4? and I will have to spend some time on alternatives in order to play the French Winawer with confidence again. 

Hope you like this article and I will be back next week with more coverage on the French!