Surprise weapon against the French

by ChessBase
7/17/2017 – If you play 1.e4 you might not always welcome the French and its often unique structures. But there is a way to take French aficionados out of their comfort zone. Play 3.Bd3! In the current issue of the ChessBase Magazine International Master Georgios Souleidis shows you why this move is worth a try.

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In ChessBase Magazine #178 (June/July 2017) Georgios Souleidis takes a look at 3.Bd3 against the French — a real surprise weapon. For many French players this move is so surprising that they refrain from the main move 3...dxe4 to try alternatives:

Souleidis analyzes the alternatives as well as the main lines and recommends moves and set-ups for both sides. It is striking how many games the Ukrainian GM Vladimir Onischuk has played — and won! — with 3.Bd3. Further down you'll find a selection of his games.

Souleidis starts his article with an analysis of 3...Nf6. After 4.e5 Nfd7. White profits from the fact that his knight on b1 has not moved yet. But neither is 3...c5 the perfect solution for Black — 4.exd5 exd5 5.Nf3 leads to a kind of Exchange Variation in which the early ...c5 might once turn out to be weakening though objectively the position after 5.Nf3 should still be equal.

Critical is 3...dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bf3. Now Black can play 5...Nbd7 or 5...Nc6 to prepare ...e5, but much more popular is 5...c5 and now play most often continues with 6.Ne2 Nc6 7.Be3.

a) Now 7...e5 can be answered with 8.Bxc6+ bxc6 9.dxe5 which leads to an endgame "that is slightly better for White".
b) After 7...Nd5 8.Bxd5 Qxd5 9.Nbc3 Black should snatch the pawn with 9...Qxg2. This is a bit surprising and in most games Black has played the weaker 9...Qc4 but according to Souleidis Black should be able to equalize after 9...Qxg2. However, here it is useful to know what you are doing because finding the right defence at the board is difficult.
c) However, the most popular line is 7...cxd4 8.Nxd4 Ne5 9.Nc3 and now Black should be able to equalize after 9...Bb4 10.Ndb5 Bd7. However, in practice White has done well in this position.

To sum up: Black has several ways to equalize but Souleidis' analyses also show that the line is relatively unexplored and offers room for further theoretical research.

ChessBase Magazine #178 (June/July)

The editor’s top ten: 

  • Win with Plan B: Aronian analyses his game against Naiditsch at the Grenke Classic: with an exchange sacrifice, a king hunt and an alternative solution.
  • This is how child prodigies think: 12-year old Nihal Sarin from India presents for you his win over GM Bluebaum (video).
  • “The lurking bishop”: Enjoy the tactical fireworks with Oliver Reeh and solve his favourite combination with really masterly moves! (Interactive video)
  • “Strategically completely irrational”: Mihail Marin shows you what has been happening in recent years in the French Winawer Variation.
  • Speculative and spectacular: Enjoy Kramnik’s rook sacrifice for three pawns and a consternated Harikrishna!
  • The pawn as a curse: Test your endgame technique and together with Karsten Müller find the narrow pathway to the draw. (interactive video)
  • Triumph in Poikovsky: Emil Sutovsky (7 out of 9) analyses in great detail his first round win against the previous years’ victor: Sutovsky-Korobov
  • Sharp update: Let Erwin l'Ami show you fantastic new ideas for White and Black in the Two Knights Defence. (video)
  • Popular and dangerous: Adhiban delivers with his attacking win over Swayans further proof for the potential of Queen’s Pawn games.
  • Declining the gambit and still getting an advantage: Krisztian Szabo knows why you do not need to fear 3…f5 in the Ruy Lopez.

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GM Vladimir Onischuk - Selected games with 3.Bd3


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