Is the French still ok?

by ChessBase
2/13/2008 – Former world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov has recorded three DVDs on 'Beating the French' which deals with the aggressive approach 3.Nc3. Each DVD covers one of Blacks main reactions and shows how White gains good winning chances. 'It is strategic, it is tactical, and the subtleties are simply fascinating' is Bob Long's conclusion for vol. 1. Buy the DVD now or read his review.

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Black's French has something to worry about!

Kasimdzhanov: "Beating the French Vol. 1" reviewed by Bob Long. (

Do you play the French as Black? If so, and you are a strong player, you’ve got some thinking to do. In this terrific series by the former FIDE world champion, he gives 1-0 games repeatedly!

I haven’t yet watched vols. 2-3 (each 3-4 hours long) but I did view the whole vol. 1 which concentrates on the Winawer (though Rustam shows quite a bit of theoretical deviations), and “mainly” 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Qg4 0-0 8. Bd3.

Yes, he covers possibilities where Black tries to avoid this setup. If you want to know how to punish stuff like 5… Ba5, take a look at Volokitin-Lputian, 2004.

Kasimdhzanov says 5… Ba5 is done for—and he hasn’t seen anything new in serious chess since this game. In fact, this game is loaded full of wondrous possibilities. I counted at least (3) words of great wisdom by this FIDE champion in his DVD discoursing.

Every one of the games is magnificently chosen (though I paid minimal attention to Morozevich-Lputian’s 7. h4—a la Bronstein).

The content is strategical, it is tactical, and the subtleties are simply fascinating. In fact, when Yusupov came up with the move …Bd7 in a particular line against Karjakin, he was beautifully pushed off the board.

While the Volokitin game is superb, another one, no less as ingenious was Dominguez-Barsov, 2004. I confess, I didn’t know of Dominguez but Kasimdzhanov says he is one of the best prepared GMs in the world! Barsov had something ready for Lentier Dominguez, but Dominguez’ attack was simply overwhelming.

If you play the French from either side, you have to get this series. The choices of games (10 of them) + several theoretical articles have saved me a lot of TIME! As my dear friend Ed Yee says, “Black has problems.” After watching this DVD one could say that Ed is being kind!

Even if you are a much lower-rated player, like most of us, you will glean valuable bits of WHY certain moves are played. Those bits will make it easier for you to play the opening because you will actually have a plan (what a concept).

Interestingly, Kasparov’s win over N. Short in 1997 was probably the least interesting of all the games except for Kasparov’s complete domination of Short’s futile …b6 idea.

What matters to me is the “critical” nature of cutting through the chaff and the explanations of why certain “other” moves shouldn’t be played. While I enjoyed this from White’s point of view, and cringed when thinking about when I’ve played black, I have to tell you ONE thing: White often must play the BEST move or he can lose in ONE move. Kasimdzhanov made this perfectly clear in a number of White attacks.

You can be sure the other two DVDs are just as good and hope I have future time to tell you about them.

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