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I play the tarrasch. Its fairly solid and remains interesting enough. It may be particularly interesting depending on your other repertoire because there are a lot of transposition possibilities to other openings.
King's Indian Attack.
First of all there is nothing wrong with the KIA. I play the French with black and it is not like a feel a relief when my opponent plays the KIA.Second , maybe try out the French with black in some blitz games so you understand the positions better. Now that is a bit of a long stretch, so I don't think it is bad if you don't. But I think it is on old Russian advice.Thirdly some lines.
If you wanna go with the Advance again, the best way to play it is with 6.a3
But don't play 6.a3 in this following position as then it is not good.
Now black can play Qc7 instead and a3 is a wasted move.
The french advance is very thematic and is more about ideas than about variations. Check some games.If you wanna go the paulsen way.Agianst the winawar you can play a delayed exchange, which is a better version of a normal exchange as the black king's bischop is misplaced. Might be a nice line for you because you don't have to care about your fragile center anymore.
Against the classical I don't know what you could do, all lines you have to worry about your center.
You didn't mention the Tarrasch. You could try that. Maybe the Korchnoi gambit in the Tarrasch, it is not dubious as far as I know, actually most black players (including me) decline the gambit).
If black declines the gambit you have to ready for this kind of crazy mess though
Hope I was of help, I am not very active on the forums, but I thought I would answer a question in some depth especially when it is about one of my favourite defences.A small disclaimer though is that I have not much expereince from the white side of the French because I am mostly a 1.d4 player.
Greetings and fermentations.
As mooted elsewhere on this site as far as playing against the French Defence is concerned, there is no quick or universal fix.
I understand your angst but the problem you have in coming to such places to seek input is that you are really never going to wholly get a satisfactory answer. The French Defence is a theoretical top heavy opening which means two things (1) Anything that you adopt, you will need to know well and (2) everyone is going to have at least one dissenting opinion with what you might have been recommended.
To wit. I have always taken the view that I do not like to get into a theoretical battle unless it is on my terms. Thus people who use such methods of defence like the French do (or at least, should) have an idea of what they are doing. That is to erect the ramparts (a semi closed position) and only attack when the situation allows (That is moves like c5, Nf6 or f6 and then Nxf6 etc etc yada yada).
So I looked at systems to cut across this method. I tried the Tarrash but I never could get the hang of the isolated Queen pawn position that resulted from one move order by Black. I have finally settled on four systems for white: Kupreichik's variation in the Advance Variation (5.Be3), Alekhine's Gambit in the Winawer and the related Wolf system in the McCutchen and the wonderfully named Muller-Zhuravlev Gambit. All of these opening ideas have one thing in common is that all open the position up for White given half the chance.
Of course, these will not be to everyone tastes and maybe not even yours.
A good way to play against the French without much theory is 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3, which results to an asymmetrical position with no fixed center and mutual chances.
Another one, if you enjoy the IQP, is 3.Nd2 and not bothering about eithe pushing e4-e5, or giving Black an IQP after 3...c5. Denis Yevseev has authored a book about this system, which is good.
So what's the point after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 Nf6 4.e5?
Does white White get an improved version of advance variation since Black's king's knight is much worst placed on d7 than on g8?
How dubious really is the wing gambit in the french defense? I've been thinking about giving it a go and I'm not sure at what level people would be able to take any noticeable advantage of it. What I'm thinking is along the lines of:
A Simple Chess Opening Repertoire for White by Sam Collinshttp://www.gambitbooks.com/pdfs/A_Simple_Chess_Opening_Repertoire_for_White.pdfhttp://www.jeremysilman.com/shop/pc/A-Simple-Chess-Opening-Repertoire-for-White-76p3916.htmMy First Chess Opening Repertoire for White by Vincent Morethttps://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9033.pdf
1.e4 vs. The French, Caro-Kann & Philidor By Parimarjan Negihttp://www.jeremysilman.com/shop/pc/1-e4-vs-The-French-Caro-Kann-Philidor-76p3875.htmhttp://www.qualitychess.co.uk/ebooks/GMRep-1e4-vol1-excerpt.pdfHow to Beat the French Defence by Andreas Tzermiadianos (2008)https://web.archive.org/web/20140627050257/http://www.chesscafe.com/text/hansen115.pdfA Chess Opening Repertoire for Blitz and Rapid by Evgeny and Vladimir Sveshnikovhttps://www.newinchess.com/media/wysiwyg/product_pdf/9020.pdfComing soon:Playing 1.e4 - Sicilian & French by John Shaw
I really never understood where is White's compensation in this line.White seems to have no pressure over the open q-side files.I'm sure many would gladly play French defense if they knew the opponent is going to play wing's gambit.
It's not about the result.White never had any kind of pressure on q-side.Quite the contrary , c3 proved more weak than a7 and b7.White's pawn sacrifice was never justified.
Not enough compensation in the Wing Gambit.
I'm trying to figure out what the reasoning behind playing 13.Bxh7 was. I can see the advantages black gets from it like the h-file and the c-pawn. Maybe he was hoping for something like 13..g6? but that is the only thing I can really think of.
Interesting was 12.Bb2 protecting the pawn and allowing Qb1 square to go to which can be followed with Qa2. The queen seems to be well placed on b1 in this line.
A sample line of the computer showing the idea:
I thought the compensation was just attacking chances on the queenside and that black seems to have to develop his pieces somewhat awkwardly.
I'm in the process of running a "shootout" computer match analysis of this position to see what some possible endgames look like.
Nope. White gets a much improved version of the 3...Nf6 Tarrasch- 3.Nd2 has been substituted by 3.Bd3, and white can castle fast, not worry about his d4 pawn, and avoid the time-consuming knight trips Nd2-f3 and Ng1-e2-c3.
The mainline is supposed to be 3.Bd3 dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bf3, which is a rich position, with chances to both sides.
Alex Onischuk plays this line almost exclusively against the French. Black's best plan is likely to go for ...e5 rather than ...c5, and this can be met by several means.
This is intruiging to me because I always felt like ed Bxe4 Nf6 Bf3 c5 would just be a weak position for white...but if not I would be interested in trying it out. What is white's next move after c5? I guess c3?
5...c5 cannot be bad, but then the Bf3 is very nicely placed, while after an eventual ...e5 he effectively bites on granit.
5...c5 6.Ne2 Nc6 7.Be3 is the normal, sane, fast-developing follow-up, at least Onischuk always plays like that. Computers claim total equality, but this hardly is something to be used as a gospel- the fight is still ahead.
if you want to annoy your opponent, and who doesn't want to annoy their opponent, play the exchange french.
Thanks a lot for the advice and the example lines! It's true that I had noticed I've never played the Tarrasch, and I'm considering giving it a try. About the KIA, I didn't really say there was anything wrong with it (I know Bobby Fischer used to play it), but just that I didn't want to play it. I have, however, tried it a couple times since then and found it very interesting.
The papa ticulat gambit is good to annoy french players
Also I recommend playing the queen knight's defence before playing d4,
Because although majority of people will play this line- some won't and you can punish them for their mistakes