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I started playing french defense, but I still do not understand some things - could somebody more advanced help me with that?
1) first, lets consider the advanced varioation (which I see played the most) 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4.c3 Jc6
I know that the plan is to throw everything at d4 but in the end it just builds the tension in the center.
Could you give me some sort of hint as to when should I (as black) take the pawn on d4? When is the favourable moment?
And also - many times f6 is being played - to undermine the center (at the cost of of freating the e6 weakness).
When should I play f6 and when should I take it?
2) in the exchange variation (3. exd5 exd5) what should be my plan? I usually go with c6, Bd6, Qc7, Nbd7, Nf6 but I cant make many actions from here... (I sometimes try to do the Ne4 more or less successfully - but I can't find some more active plan...(is c5 a good idea at the cost of making an isolated pawn?) Could u give me a hand?
this is a nice "general set up" in the exchange variation:
this will usually avoid a symetrical position and give you a lot of room for play. obviously this is not a system you can blindly play without paying attention to your opponents moves, so do not try to play it as such!
here is an example line:
4..nc6 is quite an inaccurate move because of 5.Bb5, black is best off playing Bd6 first, so that if Bd3 then Nc6 makes sense ---> now if bb5 its a waste of tempo.
so 4..nc6 5.Bb5 Bd6 c4 dxc4 d5 a6 Ba4! b5 dxc6 bxa4 O-O Ne7 Qxa4 white has a comfortable game, and his play is probably better.
anyways Bd6 first before nc6.
1. The point of the attack on d4 is to undermine White's key pawn at e5. A pawn chain must be attacked from its base, so Black should not play ...c5-c4 except in very unusual circustances where he can flank the formation to attack the new base at c3.
Ideally, Black will wait for White to move his Nb1 before exchanging at d4, so as to deprive his opponent of the natural development Nb1-c3, but this is not always possible. It is more important to fix the "base" at d4 than to outfox the Nb1. Especially, Black doesn't want to allow White to be able to play d4xc5 himself with the idea of establish a Knight on d4.
Once the exchange ...c5xd4, c3xd4 has taken place, Black can put a lot of pressure on d4. For instance, ...Nc6, ...Ne7 or h6-f5, ...Qb6, ...Ra8-c8-c4. If possible, he will also try to exchange his LSB for White's or for a Knight, since it is hampered by the central pawns fixed on light squares.
....f6 is typically the last attack, because we do not usually engage the lead pawn in the chain until the opponent has been forced to concentrate his defenses on the base pawn instead. This move can dissolve the pawn chain, but White may find other advantages open up. For instance a piece established on e5 might be even stronger than the pawn, or the pressure on the now-backward e6 pawn on the half-open e-file may be great.
For this reason, Black can sometimes follow ...f6, exf6 soon with ...e6-e5, often even as a pawn sacrifice, to complete blowing up the strong White center and bring his own pieces alive (including the "bad" Bc8).
2. The Exchange pawn center is very even and, if the major pieces are quickly exchanged on the open e-file, can become very drawish. One set-up as Black which can sometimes avoid this to an extent would be (after 3 ed ed 4 Bd3) ...Nc6, ...Bd6, reacting to Ng1-f3 possibly with ...Bg4, ...Nge7, ...Bf5 or g4, ...Qd7, ...f6 (if needed to keep a White Knight out of e5), etc.
If you want to play for a win, you need to at least delay the exchanges on the e-file.
I get this position a lot when I'm playing Nimzowich's defense.