Viktor Bologan: Fit for the French - Review

4/1/2017 – French players believe in their opening and if you play with White against a French aficionado you better come prepared. On his DVD "Fit for the French" Viktor Bologan helps you to prepare against the French. He recommends to play 3.Nc3 and to follow the main lines. Markus Hochgräfe, who has been playing the French for years, had a look at the DVD and liked what he saw. But he still believes that Black can do better.

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Viktor Bologan: Fit For the French - A Review

On this DVD Viktor Bologan offers White a complete repertoire against the French Defense. He divides his material into 22 chapters and recommends 3.Nc3 with the intention to head for the mainlines afterwards as the best way to fight the French. After 3…Nf6 he recommends 4.e5 instead of the alternative 4.Bg5. Against the Winawer 3…Bb4 he advises to play 4.e5 and 5. a3 and to enter the very sharp lines with Qg4. I have been playing the French for years and although the DVD offers a repertoire for White I still found it very interesting.

Chapters

1:  Introduction, why Bologan prefers 3.Nc3
2:  Fort-Knox, 3…dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7
3: Rubinstein, 3…dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7, 6…c5
4: Rubinstein, 3…dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7, 6…Nxe4
5: 3…Nc6
6: 3…Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6.Nf3 Qb6
7: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 Be7/Rb8
8: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 0-0
9: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 a6 and …b5
10: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 Qb6
11: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qb6
12: 6…Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 Bxd4 and the Qb6 endgame
13: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 sidelines like 4…Ne7 and 6…b6
14: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5
15: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Kf8
16: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 Qa5
17: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Qa5
18: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 f5 and other lines
19: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 Nbc6
20: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 0-0 8.Bd3 Nbc6, and Nce7
21: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 7.Qg4 Qc7
22: Winawer 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Qc7

Remarks:

7: A very nice idea for White is 7…Rb8 8. a3 b5 9.Ra2! – a prophylactic move directed against Black’s idea …b4.

9: In the line 8.Qd2 b5 9. a3 Qb6 10.Ne2 b4 11.axb4 Qxb4 12. c3 Qb7 13.dxc5 Nxc5 14.Ned4 I like Bd7 instead of Bologan’s proposal 14…Be7. Black should be close to equality.

21: This is the most important chapter of the whole DVD. The lines arising after 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 are very sharp and you really have to learn theory to find your way in these positions.
But I do not entirely agree with Bologan’s summary ‘White is better’ after 12…d4. I think, Black is okay in this line and in practice he has scored 3.5/4. This does not mean that Black is better (my engine claims that White is slightly better) but it shows the danger White faces in practice. A typical example is the game Pacher-Petrik 2011:

 

I also disagree with Bologan’s summary after the alternative 11...Bd7 followed by a later 16…Na5. I think the position after 17.Rb4 a6 18.g4 Ne3! is quite playable for Black, see the recent game Wlodarczyk-Guth, 2016:

 

Summary:

Bologan offers White a complete repertoire against the French. He advises White to play 3.Nc3 and to follow the main lines afterwards. This means that you will have to learn a lot of theory if you want to follow his recommendation. Therefore, the target audience of this DVD should be players with a rating of 1800+ though grandmasters will also profit from Bologan’s work. He explains the variations and the typical ideas in the various positions very well and closes each with a nice summary. Fortunately (at least for me who regularly plays the French with Black) some of the lines Bologan gives in the sharp Winawer with 7.Qg4 Qc7 can be improved. All in all I would rate this DVD with an ‘’A-“.

Sample video

A ChessBase feature with Viktor Bologan


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