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Can anyone suggest a suitable line for white against French. I usually play the exchange variation but it always turn out to be quite drawish.
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The Exchange French...
... has long been known as a drawing line.
The most usual moves here are:
A...1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 ... The Advance Variation. This can go two ways, one involving White's maintaining the pawn on e5 as a cramping device, or a gambit line (the Milner-Barry Gambit) for the tactically inclined.
B...1.e4 e6. 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 to which Black responds with 3...Bb4, the highly complicated and theoretical Winawer (see ionadowman vs bittersweet_ballad annotated by the latter with comments by the former for an example of this line; another example is sorceress queen vs ionadowman - a crushing victory for White, if you can find it); or 3...Nf6 (the Classical)
C...1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc2 the Tarrasch Variation. There are all sorts of responses to this, my favorite being the Guimard 3...Nc6, but things like 3...Nf6 or 3...c5 are more popular.
D... 1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 is Tchigorin's old move. Something a bit different...
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French Defense Lines
The Advance Variation (3. e5) is generally thought to lead to equality, and, in my experience, gives Black too easy a game. It's better to advance the e pawn with tempo, as in the Classical lines, or only when necessary, as in the Winawer. The only favorable aspect of the Advance, in my opinion, is that it avoids the Rubinstein Variation (3... dxe4 after 3. Nc3 or 3. Nd2), which is somewhat drawish, and at best only allows White a small plus.
The Tarrasch Variation (3. Nd2) is considered White's most positionally sound response, however, in my experience, the 3. Nc3 lines give better practical winning chances. If you do choose to play 3. Nc3 and find yourself facing the Winawer (3... Bb4), I suggest playing the 7. Nf3 lines, rather than 7. Qg4, but this is mostly a matter of preference. 7. a4 is another line worth considering, but I believe Black can reach full equality against this move.
If you enjoy playing the Exchange Variation, and don't mind IQP positions, an alternative line is 4. c4 following the exchange, which I believe has been called the Monte Carlo Variation. Keep in mind that that line may still be drawish, as Black can often simply trade down to a better ending.
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Thanks Ionadowman & Karoyl
But the reason I went for exchange French on first place was because I prefer open positions. Exactly, the type of position that a French player doesnt want. I have played Advanced variation on several occassions and like karoyl pointed out, gives black an easy game.
My last game(ended today) was with Monte Carlo variation and ended in a draw...
I think I should go for simple Nd2 avoiding Bb4...
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I've played the 4. c4 line of the Exchange & found it satisfactory (familiarity with the Panov-Botvinnik line vs the Caro-Kann helped a great deal)! The more basic 4. Bd3 is still quite playable.
I've had little difficulty with the Advance against Black. White's advantage in space is a great deal for Black to handle without care. I usually play 4. c3 & 4. Nf3, & both can wear down Black's attempts to get rolling.
The Tarrasch is always a good reply: vs the Guimard 3...Nc6, I play 4. Bb5 & the rest is elementary.
Have you tried 2. f4 vs the French? Or the Wing Gambit? White has plenty of options in handling it (so many, I'm surprised anyone wins with Black).
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As a former French player, I don't mind open positions. If White is willing to fix my bad bishop for me (as in the Exchange), that's fine by me. The biggest problem I have with the Exchange is the risk of dying of boredom.
IMO, the Winawer lines (3.Nc3 Bb4) are the most fun, with lots of chances for both sides. If everyone played the Winawer, I'd still be playing the French. Instead, I abandoned it (for the Najdorf Sicilian) because I got so sick of the Exchange.
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Yes: the Winawer is the most fun...
... but that has led to its becoming a highly theoretical line. You might have to pick your fights with this line. Here's a possibility:
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 (More usual is e5 first. 4.Bd2 is also possible) 4...Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 dxe4 The following game (ionadowman vs kikoursis, 2005) gives some idea how open and tactical things can get: 6.Qg4 Nf6 7.Qxg7 Rg8 8.Qh6 Rg6 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.Bb2 e5 11.0-0-0 Qe7 12.d5 Nb8 13.c4 Nbd7 14.Re1 Nc5 15.f4! Na4 16.Nf3! Nxb2 17.Kxb2 exf3 18.Rxe5 Be6 19.dxe6 fxe6 20.f5 Nd7 21.Rxe6 Rxe6 22.fxe6 Qxe6 23.gxf3 0-0-0 24.Ka2 Qf6 25.Qe3 Nb6 26.Be2 Qf7 27.Qb3 Qh5 28.Qb5 1/2-1/2 At this point, I figured that White's broken pawns offset his material plus, so offered the draw. Chickened out, really: this endgame is very unclear.
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The secret is revealed. Such is the trouble with the French, imo. Its not much of a game when WT plays for a draw ... tho I wouldnt use the exchange variation for that, myself.
Thats why I would only play the French against players that I thought would want to win, in postal chess. Then it is fun and interesting theory. Especially the PP Winawer lines. With the e5 mainline being WT's best, I feel.
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I love the French and almost always play it as black against 1.e4. I find the Tarrasch Nd2 line the most challenging for me. But I always enjoy all the variations with good chances for both sides I think. A lot of lines do turn out a bit drawish, but what's wrong with that? A good, solid defense for black IMHO...