3.Bd3 against the French

3.Bd3 against the French

3.Bd3 against the French

Hello everybody! We are Spanish GM Angel Arribas and GM Pepe Cuenca. We welcome you to this eBook, that corresponds to our Spanish video series with the same title. 3.Bd3 is a weapon with which you could easily surprise your opponent. We hope you enjoy the text and remember, if you drink, don't drive! :)

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. ♗d3 dxe4 This is the most natural move and the main line.

3... c5 This move takes Black into a specific line of the Exchange French where Black has to play with an isolated pawn, which is not always so much fun. 4. exd5

a) 4... ♕xd5 This move is a natural mistake. It looks as though Black is threatening two pawns at the same time, but White gets a lot of compensation with the next move 5. ♘c3! ♕xd4 The only move to justify taking on d5 with the queen. Now White gets a clear development advantage and the continued threats are really dangerous for Black( 5... ♕xg2 This move would be Black's dream, but it's not possible 6. ♗e4+− Winning the queen; 5... ♕d8 This move simply doesn't make sense. 6. ♘f3 ♘f6 7. O-O+/= and White has a comfortable space and development advantage) 6. ♘b5!

a1) 6... ♕e5+ This move is even worse than Qd8 because it helps White to develop his pieces faster. 7. ♘e2 ♘a6 8. ♗f4

a11) 8... ♕xb2? Taking this pawn means losing the game. 9. ♖b1 ♕xa2 ( 9... ♕f6 10. ♘d6+ ♗xd6 11. ♗b5++− Winning) 10. ♘bc3 ♕a5 11. ♗b5++− Also winning.

a12) 8... ♕f6 9. O-O± White has almost all his pieces developed and now the plan is very easy. Qd2 and Nec3 are the next two moves for White, and Black can barely move.

a2) 6... ♕d8 The best defence.  7. ♗f4 ♘a6 8. ♕e2 ♘f6 9. O-O-O Now White has to play a pawn down, but with much more development and much better pieces. It's a clear advantage, but in my opinion the position is practically lost for Black.

b) 4... exd5 5. ♘f3 This is the move which I recommend in this line. The idea is to take on c5 only when the black bishop is developed, and then control the isolated pawn by occupying the d4-square, mainly with a knight. Also, if Black plays c4 then we'll play b3, after moving away our light-squared bishop, of course, and we'll get the centre, some more space and easier play. 5... ♘c6 This is the main line where Black wants to play with an isolated pawn. ( 5... c4 6. ♗e2 As we said, we'll play b3 next move and get a free centre, some more space and easier play.) 6. O-O ♘f6 7. ♖e1+ ♗e7 8. dxc5 O-O 9. ♘bd2 ( 9. ♗e3! ♗xc5 10. ♘b3 Now we'll play natural moves like c3, Bf4 and we'll be always slightly better because of Black's isolated pawn.

3... ♘f6 4. e5 ♘fd7 5. f4 c5 6. c3 This position looks natural for both sides but White's setup with the bishop on d3 and the knight on b1 changes practically everything. Now White apparently doesn't have any problem protecting the d-pawn with natural moves (Nf3 and Bc2) and after the exchange on d4 the b1-knight is ready to be developed to its normal square, c3. 6... ♘c6 7. ♘f3

a) 7... cxd4 8. cxd4 ♕b6 9. ♗e2+/= Both moves (Be2 and Bc2) are okay, but preventing Black from exchanging pieces with Nb4 looks best: ( 9. ♗c2+/= )

b) 7... ♕b6 8. ♗c2 This is the natural move which I recommend ( 8. O-O This line looks natural as well and can also be interesting, but I'm not completely sure about it, because against a move like Be7 we will most likely play Bc2. 8... cxd4 9. cxd4 ♘xd4 10. ♘xd4 ♕xd4+ 11. ♔h1 ) 8... ♗e7 ( 8... cxd4 9. cxd4 ♘b4 10. O-O ♘xc2 11. ♕xc2 ♗e7 12. ♘c3+/= And after this sequence of natural moves White has a comfortable advantage with plans on both wings.) 9. O-O O-O 10. a3 White has some more space and pieces that are well-placed, plus he is ready to develop the rest of them. If f6, then Kh1 makes sense to maintain the centre and space advantage.

3... ♘c6 This move is quite unusual and doesn't make much sense at this moment. White plays slowly and has a slight and comfortable positional advantage 4. ♘f3 dxe4 5. ♗xe4 ♘f6 6. ♗g5 This move is the key, giving up the bishop but gaining very fast development and control of the centre. 6... ♗e7 7. ♗xf6 ♗xf6 8. c3+/=

4. ♗xe4 ♘f6

4... c5 5. ♘e2 ♘f6 6. ♗f3 This is the same.

5. ♗f3 This is the key. White wants to keep the bishop on the h1-a8 diagonal. This idea is quite unusual in the French and can be unpleasant for Black, who now has to choose a plan.

5... c5 This is the main line and probably the best way to equalise.

5... ♘c6 Again, this is a strange move. White continues with natural development (Ne2, 0-0, Nbc3...) and is slightly better. Moreover, Black has to be attentive every time to the move Bxc6, which is usually annoying for Black. 6. ♘e2  ♗d6 ( 6... e5 7. ♗xc6+ bxc6 8. O-O+/= ) 7. ♘bc3 O-O ( 7... ♗d7 8. ♗g5 ) 8. O-O e5 ( 8... h6 Vilas) 9. ♗xc6 ( 9. d5 ♘e7 10. ♗g5 ♘d7 11. ♘e4 f6 12. ♘xd6 cxd6 13. ♗d2 f5 14. c4 e4 15. ♗h5 g6 16. ♘f4 gxh5 17. ♘e6 ♕e8! 18. ♗c3 ♕f7 19. ♘xf8 ♔xf8 20. f3 e3 21. ♗b4 f4 22. ♗xd6 ♕f6 23. ♗xe7+ ♕xe7 24. ♕d4 ♕e5 25. ♕e4 ♔g8 26. ♖ae1 ♕g5 27. ♖e2 ♘f6 28. ♕e7 ♗d7 29. ♖d1 ♖e8 30. ♕d6 h4 31. b3 ♖c8 32. ♖de1 b6 33. a4 ♔h8 34. a5 bxa5 35. ♕a3 ♖g8 36. ♕xa5 ) 9... bxc6 10. dxe5 ♗xe5 11. ♗f4+/=

5... ♘bd7 The idea of this move is to break open the centre with e5. 6. ♘e2 e5 7. O-O! This is the key. Now Black has to decide whether to grab the piece with the move e4 or not. If not, White simply plays Ng3-Nf5.( 7. ♘bc3 This is completely playable and slightly better for White, but 7.0-0! is an amazing move 7... ♗d6 8. O-O+/= ) 7... e4 Taking the piece is the move which makes most sense, and we go into a long forced line: 8. ♘g3! exf3 9. ♖e1+ ♗e7 10. ♘f5

a) 10... ♘b6 11. ♖xe7+ ( 11. ♘xe7 ♗e6 12. ♘f5 O-O 13. ♕xf3 ♗xf5 14. ♕xf5 ♕xd4 15. ♘c3= ) 11... ♔f8 12. ♖e5 fxg2 13. ♘c3 h6 14. b3+/=

b) 10... ♘b8 11. ♘xe7 ♗e6 12. ♘f5 ( 12. ♕xf3 ♔xe7 13. ♕xb7 ♘bd7 ) 12... O-O 13. ♕xf3 ♗xf5 14. ♕xf5 ♕xd4 15. ♘c3+/=

c) 10... ♘g8 11. ♖xe7+! ♘xe7 12. ♘xg7+ ♔f8 13. ♗h6 ♔g8 14. ♕xf3 ♘g6 15. ♘h5 Now Black cannot move and is lost. The plan Nc3-Ne4-Nf6 and Re1 also makes Black's position practically impossible to handle.

5... e5 Not a good move. 6. dxe5 ♕xd1+ 7. ♗xd1± And White is a pawn up with no compensation to be seen.

6. ♘e2 ♘c6 The main line.

6... cxd4 7. ♕xd4 This leaves Black with a somewhat unpleasant position because of his weaknesses and the power of White's light-squared bishop. 7... ♘bd7 ( 7... ♗d6 8. ♘d2+/= ; 7... ♕xd4 8. ♘xd4 a6 9. ♘d2+/= ) 8. O-O ♗c5 ( 8... e5 9. ♕h4 ♗e7 10. ♘bc3 O-O 11. ♖d1+/= ) 9. ♕f4 O-O ( 9... e5 10. ♕h4 O-O 11. ♘bc3 ♕b6 12. ♘g3+/= ) 10. ♘bc3 ♕e7 11. ♖d1 e5 12. ♕h4 ♖e8 ( 12... h6 13. a3 a5 14. ♘g3 ♕e6 15. h3 ♘b6 16. ♘f1 ♗d7 17. ♕g3 ♔h8 18. ♗e3+/= ) 13. ♘g3 ♕e6 14. ♘ce4+/=

6... ♗e7 Now White simply develops naturally and has a more pleasant position to play. 7. O-O O-O 8. ♘bc3 ♘c6 9. ♗e3

6... e5 This is not really a bad move, but White is a pawn up and therefore better. 7. dxe5 ♕xd1+ 8. ♔xd1 ♘g4 9. ♗xg4 ♗xg4 10. f3+/=

7. ♗e3 cxd4 The main line.

7... e5 is not a very good move, but we must be careful and make some good moves ourselves: 8. ♗xc6+! bxc6 9. dxe5 ♕xd1+ 10. ♔xd1 ♘g4 11. ♘d2! Now White is slighly better because of his development and superior structure. We'll try to put our pieces in the centre (the rook on e1 and the knight on f4, g3 or c3). After all, we need to try and exploit Black's bad pawns.

7... ♘d5 Natural, but a bad move 8. ♗xd5 ♕xd5 9. ♘bc3! This is the key. Now taking on g2 is really bad for Black because Rg1 and Nb5 followed by Bf4 is coming. Otherwise White will take on c5 and be a pawn up.

7... ♕b6 8. ♘bc3 cxd4 ( 8... ♕xb2 9. ♖b1 ♕a3 10. dxc5 a6 11. ♖b3 ♕a5 12. ♘d4+/= ) 9. ♘xd4 ♘xd4 ( 9... ♘e5 10. O-O ♘xf3+ 11. ♕xf3± ; 9... ♗c5 10. ♗xc6+ bxc6 11. O-O± ) 10. ♕xd4±

8. ♘xd4 ♘e5

8... ♘xd4 9. ♕xd4 This is always a slight and comfortable advantage for White. 9... ♕xd4 10. ♗xd4+/=

9. ♘c3 This is the move I like here. The main idea is to take advantage of the Black's bad development by playing Ndb5. Also, if Black takes the f3-bishop then, after the queen takes back on f3 long castles would be quite strong.

9... ♗b4 Maybe the best move.

9... ♘xf3+ 10. ♕xf3 ♗b4 11. O-O-O This is why we played Nc3 instead of short castles.

9... ♗e7 10. ♘db5 The position is still unclear, but what is clear is that Black has some problems dealing with all White's threats.

9... a6 10. ♕e2 This is another idea of Nc3 instead of short castles. Now, due to Black's slow play, long castles and many threats are coming fast.

10. ♘b5 This is key again. We try to keep the two bishops (for example after Qxd1 we play Bxd1) and create some threats against Black's weaknesses, so he's forced to give away the dark-squared bishop. The position is unclear, but White's play is easier and more comfortable.

10... ♕a5

10... ♕xd1+ 11. ♗xd1 ♗a5 ( 11... O-O 12. ♘c7± ) 12. ♗e2+/=

10... ♘xf3+ 11. ♕xf3 O-O 12. a3 ♗e7 ( 12... ♗xc3+ 13. ♘xc3+/= ) 13. ♗xa7+/=

11. a3

11. O-O ♘xf3+ 12. ♕xf3 O-O 13. a3 ♗xc3 14. ♘xc3+/=

11... ♕xb5 12. axb4 ♕xb4 13. ♕d4 ♘xf3+ 14. gxf3 ♕xd4 15. ♗xd4 O-O 16. ♗xf6 gxf6 17. ♖g1+ ♔h8 18. ♘e4+/=


3.Bd3 against the French GM Angel Arribas & Pepe Cuenca

Recommended level:



In this eBook Spanish GMs Angel Arribas and GM Pepe Cuenca show an interesting way of playing against the French - the move 3.Bd3!?


To develop an innovative repertoire against the French.


Lost your password? We'll send you a link to reset it!

After submitting this form you'll receive an email with the reset password link. If you still can't access your account please contact our customer service.

Which features would you like to enable?

We respect your privacy and data protection guidelines. Some components of our site require cookies or local storage that handles personal information.

Show Options

Hide Options