Recently in a speed chess game my opponent, playing white in the French Advance variation, played after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Qb6 the somewhat odd looking 5.dxc and after 5.Bxc5 he coninued with the even stranger Qe2. I short analysis with Fritz or Rybka showed that after a few more moves blacks advantage tends to disappear. Just wondering if anyone with some expertise out there has some concrete long term plans for black.
I assume you mean 4 c3 Nc6 5 Nf3 Qb6 6 dxc5 Bxc5 7 Qe2.
The only games I've seen in this line are with 7 Qc2, so it seems to be new territory, but not necessarily anything good. I admire your true French Defender attitude, worrying that ". . . blacks advantage tends to disappear." Dude, please! If Black is at least equal after only 7 moves or so, he's won the opening battle already.
I assume the logic behind White's move is that Black will have to spend tempi rearranging his Q + B, especially after b2-b4, so the time White will spend untangling his Kingside won't be a total waste.
As to how to proceed: obviously you can't play ...Nge7 because the Bc5 lacks a retreat. ...Nh6 is probably premature - while Black should welcome Bxh6, securing the Bishop pair, it is better to wait until after White has moved his Bc1, in which case the capture in effect loses a tempo. That leaves two main ideas, which seem very playable for Black but represent entirely different strategies.
One strategy is to just allow b2-b4, figuring that while it competes for space on the Queenside and harasses the Bc5, it does nothing to further White's development and may prove to have weakened c4 severely. If this is the way you want to play, 7 ...Bd7, simply developing and waiting, could be your move.
The opposing idea is that if White intends to play b2-b4, Black should prevent it if he can, which calls for 7 ...a5. This is challenging for White, but also quite committal for Black. For instance, it makes the prospect of ...0-0-0 less appealing, and we already know Black may end up with a fractured Kingside after ...Nh6 Bxh6 ...gxh6 eventually. On the other hand, it does cut across White's main plan in this set-up, and forces him to find another on the fly if he hasn't considered it.
Once the d4 pawn has been exchanged for the c5 pawn, the new base of White's central pawn chain is the Pe5 - a one-pawn chain. For the long haul, Black will wish to attack this point, liquidating the positional preponderance in the center it gives White. First, put as many pieces on it as possible - ...Nc6 is already there, but ...Qc7 can add pressure, too. It is hard to get in ...Ng6, because as note above the preparatory ...Nge7 blocks the Bc5 (although it can happen after b4 ...Bf8).
Black eventually wants to play ...f6 at the proper moment, the proper moment being when White is forced to play e5xf6 in reply (or lose a pawn on e5) and Black is ready or almost ready for ...e6-e5 and breaking out in the center. This is the easiest winning strategy for Black, and White must exploit his spatial advantage via the Pe5 while it exists if he hopes for advantage.
Perhaps no one will try this line against you again (except the same guy, since he did well with it), but the strategies do apply across many similar pawn chain positions in the French.
Ni Hua chose 7 .... f6 in this rather unusual line in my DB, I found very few games with white playing this way and the white players was always weak , 7... Nh6 also seems perfectly playable.
first of all thank you for you detailed feedback, and of course you are right as far as the move order is concerned. As to the two options,
- a5 was my first thought but that is followed by Nbd2 intending to go to b3, which is prevented by a4 and then after b4 axb Nb3 blacks space advantage on the queens side is gone.
- Nh6 was what I played in the speed game but for what? Usually Nh6 intends to attack d4 but with d4 gone the pawn to attack is as you say e5.
- computers like the immediated f6, but end up with the black king stuck in the center and queens still on the board. So I don't like this set up at all.
In any case should I reach a conclusion I will post it.
In my defense the notion of "advantage" is in the context of computer valuation i.e. the computer showed a solid advantage for black after white's unusual moves dxc and Qe2 and it is this advantage which disappeared as I went through some lines.
Also I must say, I very much appreciate all your comments, in particular Estragon's. Working and family does not allow me to head out there and find strong players in the chicago area. So the online discussion is really helpful.
In the mean time I am putting together my own documentation on the french advance from the black perspective and here too the comments will be helpful.
Paul, what is its place? Currently my view is that the French Advance variation is not that great for white i.e. allows black to equalize but I have yet to go through the main line 5.a3.
Yes, attitude is key if you would be a French player, and those without it and the idly curious are advised against the French altogether.
The Advance isn't necessarily bad for White positionally. It just doesn't give him the opportunity to earn what the GMs now term his "normal advantage" from the opening. Black can rather easily hold his own; its popularity among amateur White players demonstrates more of their distaste for playing the challenging main lines with 3 Nc3 or 3 Nd2 than any strength of 3 e5.
Which means your opponent is a yellow-bellied, lily-livered coward, a worthless piece of trash, thoroughly beneath contempt and utterly unworthy to sit across the board from you. He is a vile and offensive creature who must be taught a lesson for the good of humanity.
Like I said, you need the French attitude to do it right, but it will surprise you how much it fortifies you to face gutless moves like 3 e5 or the laughable 3 exd5 (played only by sexually conflicted Mama's boys who would rather be suckling her than playing a manly game like chess), inspiring you to fight for what is right and just.
Just remember the scorn is for the imaginary player of White, don't let it get personal with your opponent. After the game, it is perfectly acceptable to allow him to buy you beer while you explain where he went wrong [and no Mama talk, mmmkay?].
Not so sure I can agree with this assessment since Kasparov himself played the exchange french a few times, including a win against Korchnoi ! He also played it against my wife here in an simul after I assured my wife that there is NO WAY the great Kasparov will play the toothless exchange variation ! LOL Needless to say..... her fate was the same as Korchnoi's.