Book Recommendation request on French Defense??


Could you please recommend me a nice book that explains main idea of French Defense from Black prospective?? But I am looking for more kind of theory book that provides general idea of French, what is Black overall strategy in each of different line like advance variation, Fantasy variation & so on.

What Black wants to achieve in different setups of French Defense??  I don’t want book that only shows long computer analysis without any explanation why particular move played or purpose of move?? 


Mastering the French by McDonald (2001) if you can find it.


i really like the flexible french by moskalenko. it's full of so many ideas and he explains them really well.


Despite not mentioning the French Defense in its title, "How to Play Against 1. e4" by GM Neil McDonald is a great starting repertoire book for playing the French. I really like McDonald's writing style, and he gives plenty of general advice, not just showing moves.


As far as I know, there's not a Fantasy Variation in the French. Do you mean the Caro Kann?

For the French, I'd suggest the "How to Play Against 1. e4" book that Fromper recommended or "Attacking Chess: The French" by Simon Williams. Actually I'd recommend getting both of those because they have a lot of explanation, and the lines those books focus on provide enough variety that someone should be able to find something they're comfortable with.


The Modern French is a good book for Class B players and above. The only problem is that it sucks helping you with the Steinitz french with the e4 e6 d4 d5 nc3 nf6 e5 nfd7 f4 line. I do not like the recommendations the co-authors make. Everything else has made wonders for me, as I am not losing in the opening so easily anymore. There are many tricky lines in the MacCutcheon...


Moskalenko for sure.

He knows a great deal about the opening, he has a very pleasant writing style, and all the material in his books comes out of his head- not crappy engines.

I always hated older books which were database dumps, and I also hate modern books which are engine dumps. They are totally useless.

I did not really like Antic & Maksimovic, while Vitiugov's revised book is better than the first edition (hardly an achievement in itself) but still its far from being good.

There is also Watson, which writes good books, but his evaluations are extremely subjective.


Hello Guys,

Thanks all for your wonderful response.

Flexible French of Viktor Moskalenko is out of print now. Do we have something similar on French by same Author?

Secondly, what’s the difference between Mastering the French & "How to Play Against 1. e4" because both the books written by same Author by Neil Mcdonald.

 "How to Play Against 1. e4" covers all the possible popular response like-French, Caro-Kann, Sicilian, Pirc & so on or it only covers French Defense but Book Name is written as Play Against 1.e4?


amazon have it....


you can see Korchnoi matches

in french :how play french defense Shaun Taulbut

Indian_Tiger_24 wrote:

Hello Guys,

Thanks all for your wonderful response.

Flexible French of Viktor Moskalenko is out of print now. ????

Not according to amazon.


I can't much help you , since I play French only with W , but you can have a glance to Watson's "Mastering Chess Openings"


"How to Play Against 1. e4" is a French Defense repertoire book. He only gives recommendations for how to play the French as black. I highly recommend it because of the writing style more than the specific lines given. He'll give you some good variations to play, but more importantly, he actually explains stuff, rather than just giving moves.


I like Moskalenko and Vitiugov.  Some of Watson's suggestions strike me as a bit sketchy.


Be aware that Moskalenko's lines are very idiosyncratic. He doesn't really give a repertoire, but outlines of some plans he's used successfully. For example, don't expect to learn the main lines of the Winawer if you decide to use Moskalenko's books. 

What he's written is more of a love letter to the French defense than a repertoire book. For what it is, it's excellent! It gives experienced players such as PFren new reasons to try the French. But for someone coming to the French for the first time, I'd recommend Watson, Neil MacDonald or even Lev Psakhis (whose books are filled with long variations) first.  


You can download Moskalenko's book at:


I very much like  Attacking Chess: The French


Some very good move orderings, and it is easy to follow the French defense ideas outlined. 


Moskalenko's great. Watson is more of a reference.

I also like Uhlmann's "WInning with the French," which provides succinct overviews of the major French variations -- Advance, Winawer, Tarrasch, KIA -- followed by annotated examples in the grandmaster's own games. It's about 20 years out of date, but the ideas are still valid and adequate for class play. Uhlmann was one of the great French defenders.

Moyuba wrote:

i really like the flexible french by moskalenko. it's full of so many ideas and he explains them really well.