Robert Ris, Attacking the French with 3.Bd3 - A Review

by Martin Neubauer
10/8/2021 – Fans of the French Defence usually know their lines and structures very well, and they are happy to play their pet systems, even when the engines grant White a slight advantage. But 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3!? is a good way to bring French experts out of their comfort zone. In a "60 Minutes" video, Dutch IM Robert Ris, an expert for sharp systems, shows how White can use 3.Bd3!? to get promising play against the French Defense. IM Martin Neubauer had a look at the video.

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How to bring French players out of their comfort zone

French aficionados often like to hide behind their pawn chains to wait for a chance to counterattack. Slightly positive computer evaluations for White do not worry them, since they understand the structures well and the machines tend to overestimate the white space advantage. So, how should White pose problems for the theoretically well versed French experts?

Attacking the French with 3.Bd3

Do you always have problems finding a good antidote to the French (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5)? Thanks to this 60 minutes course on the move 3.Bd3 you don't have to look any further!

In his "60 Minutes" course "Attacking the French with 3.Bd3" Robert Ris proposes an interesting move that make it difficult for players with Black to reach their favourite positional patterns: 3.Bd3!?. After 3...Nf6 4.e5 White has very good chances of a slight advantage, since in this line the move 3.Bd3 makes more sense than 3.Nd2. Therefore Black should answer 3.Bd3 with 3...c5 or 3...exd4, after which, however, the game takes on an open character which many a French specialist tries to avoid like the plague.

In some lines White has to sacrifice a pawn, but in return gets a development advantage and active pieces. Ris devotes a relatively large part of the 60 minutes to these sharp games: these variations are fun, and we learn interesting attacking ideas and see exciting tactical motifs while watching them.

However, the time spent on tactics is then lacking to explain strategic concepts, such as when Black does not play ...c4 after 3...c5 4.exd5 exd5 but is ready to play with an isolated queen pawn. When I tested 3.Bd3 in internet blitz, I often had this variation on the board. This setup seems quite reasonable for Black, but Ris only mentions it in passing and the illustrative games also offer hardly any information how to deal with this option.

But you should definitely have a look at the illustrative games. They show how dangerous a weapon 3.Bd3 can be, especially in the hands of GM Vladimir Onischuk, who has won many spectacular games with this line.

A positive aspect of Robert Ris' 60-minute course is the fact that the author plays this variation himself and can therefore include not only theoretical analyses but also personal experience. "Attacking the French with 3.Bd3" can therefore be recommended to anyone who wants to fight the French Defence in an aggressive but not too theory-heavy way.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

Attacking the French with 3.Bd3

Do you always have problems finding a good antidote to the French (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5)? Thanks to this 60 minutes course on the move 3.Bd3 you don't have to look any further!


Martin Neubauer is an International Master who played for the Austrian national team from 2000 until 2012 and coached the Austrian youth squad from 2006 until 2008.
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Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 10/8/2021 10:50
Every serious French player has pet lines prepared for these pet lines... Personally, I wouldn't call a line 'aggressive' where white sacrifices a tempo to misplace his bishop. But I bet you can get a draw with it, with best play.
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