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I can't understand these people who say they gave up e4 because of the french. I consider myself an attacking player, and yet, when I play with the Black pieces, I enjoy a bit of the old french. It's like, I dunno, giving up e4 because of the Sicillian. I guess there's no Smith-Morra kind of thing for White in the French is there?
Try the exchange variation.
The Winawer is my recommendaton.
Watch Shirov DVD on Chessbase, you may learn a lot.
you can't choose to play the winawer as white. you can only play 3.Nc3 and hope they go into it rather than the classical french lines.
in that like firebrand doesn't h4 just lose a pawn? or is the open h file enough compensation? i like the idea of castling queenside and attacking though will give it a shot.
This other blog introduces the ideas behind the sac:
I thought this was the idea behind the sac: (Qd3 0-0 Qxh7#)
A complete beginner's look at it, yes. The line is not based on hoping for that blunder, or it would not have been given master-level attention.
As one who proudly and defiantly played the French in all sorts of competition - OTB including World Open & correspondence including US Absolute Championship and several Golden Knight (US Open) Finals - for 19 years, and still uses it as backup defense 20 years later, I can state without condition that White 1 e4 players who are afraid of the French are sissy boys who always lost their lunch money to bullies in school.
Cowboy up, Hortense! If you are going to play 1 e4, act like you know what you're doing and play 3 Nc3. White's going to be a little better with more space, Black is solid and can usually generate counterplay. It's a fight and White gets the first punch. What the heck are you afraid of? Does Mommy still tuck you in and plug in your night light?
Play to win - if it doesn't work out Mommy can kiss it and make it better, mmmkay?
But...but...mommy i don't like to enter the complications of the Winawer, and i don't want to enter the theoretical duel with 7.Qg4.... Good thing i don't bring any "lunch money" to school it seems then.
If you don't want mainline Winawers, then Alekhine's gambit (3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Ne2) is interesting.
Also worth looking at is the old line 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 (3...d4 is certainly playable) 4.e5 Nfd7 5.d4 c5 6.dc5, which is sort-of pet line for Nepo- he has scored remarkably well with it.
All that said- the only line that questions the French is really the mainline Winawer. And of course, you have to also prepare for the Classical, which is also tough to crack.
Still, in the Classical you might get away with some ideas and basic variations but for example the poisoned pawn variation that arises after 7.Qg4 just seems like complete madness and with such a bad development white surely will need to know some deep theory.
I think that the 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.d4 c5 6.dc5 line you mentioned is also playable via a Classical move order. It certainly seems to be something different as you target the center with pieces instead of pawns.
3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Ne2 is something that i haven't explored but looks like white's best option other than 4.e5.
Well, yes indeed, the winawer is a crapload of theory- undeniable.
One simple mistake, and you are toast- either colour.
Still, it's the ONLY serious challenge to the French.
And yes, Nepo's line can also occur via the Classical.
Of course the Winawer requires black to want to play it. Against the classical, the advance variation can test white when effort is put into it. Here's a win I got on ICCF using the advance variation against an opponent that was a strict adherent to the French:
There is sort of a Smith-Morra thing for white, it's called the Alapin Gambit: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Be3. The idea is to get a Tarrasch like set-up with the b1 knight on d2 without the c1 bishop being blocked in, but at the cost of a pawn. After 3...dxe4, the usual follow-up is 4.Nd2 immediately, but white can trying offering another pawn with 4.f3. I think this gambit in general is considered pretty suspicious, if not outright unsound, and the 4.f3 line even crazier. But sometimes white gets away with it: Heidenfeld Wolfgang vs Lee Cecil .
@Mainline_Novelty: Hey, I said it may be suspicious and theoretically unsound, but I didn't say I didn't like the Alapin Gambit! I play this line occasionally as white, and usually get good games. But we're talking basement club-level here. I think 4...f5 is actually supposed to be black's best, even if it does look a little awkward, because he can usually hang on to the extra pawn. But 4...Nf6 5.f3 Nd5 forces 6.Qe2 and a somewhat cramped position. I think it's playable for white, though.
The only advantage the Alapin gambit gives white is that many black players will be unfamliar with it.
Well, I guess that's something in it's favor. I suppose you're implying by this comment that this line offers no advantage against players who are familiar with it. That may be, but still....... I mean, if Keres played it...... ?
Keres in his lifetime played the Vienna, King's Gambit, the Budapest Gambit as Black, and quite a few other openings that would not be recommended to anyone today as being a sound basis for an opening repertoire. Those were not the openings he choose in serious games. Moreover, that particular game was a correspondence game that happened when Keres was 16. If you're going to take that as an endorsement for the line, I've got a few investment opportunities to talk to you about . . .
@Kingpatzer: Whew! Thanks for the warning! I'm always falling for these suspicious ideas in the openings that some shady characters come up with...... Just the other day Nakamura tried to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge!
In my opinion, the KIA (King's Indian Attack) could be a "fun" option. Basically, most of the time you build up this massive bombardment on the kingside by first, locking the center. Because of the nature of the KIA, it is extremely hard for French players to attack the center, so most of the time they have to resort to the queenside attack, although sometimes they go for stuff like ...f6, but by then, White should be alright to continue a kingside attack anyway.
If you want to annoy French players a lot, but don't mind annoying yourself, play the exchange variation! Just joking ... the exchange variation is for lazy White players, and it probably annoys French players tonnes. The exchange variation often leads to equal-ish game, so it can get a bit boring. That said, it can still be dynamic.
If you want to be cheeky and memorise a bit of stuff, try the Jackal. It is fun, trust me .
"If you want to annoy French players a lot" Interesting choice of words. Of all the adjectives I've heard applied to various openings, like 'dynamic', 'slow', 'drawish', 'boring', etc. I think the term 'annoying' is most often used to describe the French by people facing it. Why is that? Are d4 players annoyed by d6? Are English players annoyed by c3? I don't think so. I suppose if you really want to 'counter-annoy' an opponent you suspect is going to play a French, you could try 1.e3, but then black might trip you up and play 1...e5.
I'm annoyed by d6. In blitz I always play c4 e5 d5 and then on f5 realize that I don't like my position.
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