Nakamura plays the French
At the ongoing London Classic I noticed that the US representative, Hikaru Nakamura, played the French defense in his game against Michael Adams. So I thought going through this game, at least the opening would help me with my understanding. After the typical 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 Adamas played 3 Nd2. The Tarrasch variation.
The other common third moves are 3. e5 (Advance), 3. Nc3 (Classical or Winawer depending on black's response), and 3 exd5 (The exchange). The exchange is considered equal for black and so is rarely seen when White wants to go for the win. The Tarrasch has two main points, for one it doesn't block the white c-pawn so black's c5 push can be met easily with c3. The second is that Nd2 is quite safe and doesn't expose white to the kind of game that Nc3 Bb5, the Winawer might.
When faced with the Tarrasch the classical response was Nf6, after e5 Nd7 pressuring the wife e pawn. The second most common response is to push c5 right away. But in the game Nakamura played Be7, a move that used to be a sideline but is now quite popular. Be7 has the advantage of being very flexible, anything white does next sets up a counter.
White's main options are outlined in the following diagram
Let's looks at how the game unfolds
If anyone out there is a French expert what do you think of 8...b6 and also the position after move 12 and 19.