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.
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.