Play the French

3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 Main line

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. ♘c3 ♘f6 4. ♗g5 ♗e7 5. e5 ♘fd7 6. ♗xe7 ♕xe7 7. f4 supports White's centre. It is important to play this because Black intends to undermine ít by playing ...c5.

7... O-O Black wants to play ...c5 soon. ...c5 immediately fails to 8.Nb5. On the kingside Black wants to attack the white centre by playing ...f6. Which approach to employ largely depends on how White proceeds. Here, White has several options to reach different positions.

7... a6 8. ♕g4!+/= f5 9. exf6 ♘xf6 10. ♕h4 b6 11. ♘f3 c5 12. ♗d3 ♘c6 13. O-O-O cxd4 14. ♗g6+ ♔d8 15. ♘xd4 ♘xd4 16. ♖xd4 ♗d7 17. ♗d3 ♖e8 18. ♖e1 ♕c5 19. ♘e2 ♗b5 20. ♔b1 e5 21. fxe5 ♖xe5 22. c4 ♗d7 23. ♖xd5 ♖xd5 24. cxd5 ♕xd5 25. ♕g3 g6 26. ♘c3 ♕d4 27. ♖d1 ♕c5 28. ♕f4 ♕e7 29. ♖f1 ♘h5 30. ♕d4 ♖b8 31. ♘d5 ♕d6 32. ♖e1 ♗e6 33. ♘f4 ♔d7 1-0 Topalov,V (2752) -Vallejo Pons,F (2697), Leon 2012

7... c5? 8. ♘b5 is very problematic for Black because White threatens 9.Nc7+ and 9.Nd6+.

8. ♘f3

8. ♕h5 A very direct plan. The idea is to play 9.Bd3 and attack h7. Furthermore, White wants to provoke weaknesses on the kingside. Another idea is to regroup the knight via f3 to g5 or to castle queenside. The downside of the early queen move is that the queen might be away from the action and that the pawn on d4 is weakened. 8... c5! Black immediately attacks White's centre.

a) 9. O-O-O ♘c6 ( 9... cxd4 10. ♘b5 ♘c6 ) 10. ♘f3

a1) 10... a6 11. ♘e2

a2) 10... c4 11. f5! ( 11. g4 )

a3) 10... cxd4N 11. ♘b5 ♘c5 12. ♖g1 ♘e4 13. ♘bxd4 ♘f2 ( 13... ♕c5 ) 14. ♖d2 ♘e4 15. ♖d1=

b) 9. dxc5 f5

b1) 10. exf6 ♘xf6 wins a tempo. Black's position is full of dynamism. 11. ♕h4 e5 12. fxe5 ( 12. O-O-O e4 ) 12... ♕xe5+ 13. ♗e2 ♕e3 14. ♘f3 ♘c6 15. ♕f2 ♕h6 16. ♕h4 ♕e3=

b2) 10. O-O-O If White does not take en passant on f6, the pawn on f5 will safely block the diagonal d3-h7. In this case, White's attack on the kingside gets slowed down. Also, Black gains time in order to attack on the queenside. 10... ♘c6 11. g4 ♘xc5 12. gxf5 ♖xf5 13. ♕g4 ♗d7 14. ♘ge2 ♖af8 15. ♕g3 d4 ( 15... ♗e8 ) 16. ♘b5 ♘e4

c) 9. ♗d3 g6 10. ♕h6 ( 10. ♕h3 cxd4=/+ ; 10. ♕g5? ♕xg5 11. fxg5 cxd4 ) 10... cxd4 ( 10... f6=/+ ) 11. ♘b5 ♘c6=/+

d) 9. ♘b5 9... ♘c6 10. ♘f3 a6 ( 10... f6 11. O-O-O ) 11. ♘d6 The knight on d6 is not that scary because Black has already castled. 11... cxd4 12. ♗d3 g6 13. ♕g4 f6 This undermines the position of White's knight on d6. 14. O-O fxe5 15. ♗xg6 hxg6 16. ♕xg6+ ♕g7 17. ♕xe6+ ♔h8 18. ♘g5 e4

8. ♕g4 at this point is not as strong as after 7...a6 because g7 is defended. Now ...a6 is unnecessary for Black. 8... c5 ( 8... f5 ) 9. ♘f3 ♘c6 10. O-O-O f5 The typical reaction. Black gains a tempo by attacking White's queen. If White takes on f6, Black recaptures with the knight.

8. ♗d3 c5 9. ♘f3 transposes to the line after 8.Nf3.

8. ♕d2 a6 9. ♘f3 c5 also transposes to the line after 8.Nf3.

8... c5 The difference to the previous lines is that White's queen protects the pawn on d4. There is no hurry to play ...f5. Instead the option ...f6 deserves attention.

8... a6 9. ♗d3 h6 ( 9... g6 10. h4 ; 9... c5? 10. ♗xh7+ ♔xh7 11. ♘g5+ ♔g6 12. ♕d3+ f5 13. exf6+ ♔xf6 14. O-O+− ) 10. ♘e2

8... f6 9. g3 ( 9. exf6 ♘xf6 10. ♕d2 ) 9... c5 10. exf6 ( 10. ♕e2 ) 10... ♘xf6

9. ♕d2 The most natural move. The queen defends the pawns on d4 and f4 and mitigates the effect of ...f6.

9. ♗d3 Threatening Bh7+ followed by Ng5 and Qh5.

a) 9... f5 10. ♕d2 ( 10. exf6 ♕xf6 transposes to the line after 9...f6.) 10... a6 ( 10... ♘c6 11. ♘b5 ) 11. ♖g1

b) 9... h6 10. O-O ♘c6 11. a3 a6 12. ♕e1

c) 9... cxd4? 10. ♗xh7+ ♔xh7 11. ♘g5+ ♕xg5 12. fxg5 dxc3 13. ♕h5+ ( 13. ♕d3+ ♔g8 14. ♕xc3+/= ) 13... ♔g8 14. O-O ♘xe5 ( 14... cxb2 15. ♖ab1± ) 15. ♖ae1 ♘g6 16. ♖e3 e5 17. g4! ♗xg4 18. ♕xg4 cxb2±

d) 9... a6 10. ♗xh7+ ♔xh7 11. ♘g5+ ♔g8 ( 11... ♔g6 12. ♕d3+ f5 13. ♕g3+− ) 12. ♕h5+−

e) 9... f6! This move both stopfs Bh7+ and attacks the white centre.

e1) 10. exf6 ♕xf6 ( 10... ♖xf6 11. ♕d2 cxd4 12. ♘b5 ♘c6 13. O-O ♘c5 14. ♘bxd4 ♘xd4 15. ♘xd4 ♗d7 ) 11. g3 ( 11. O-O c4 12. ♗e2 ♕xf4=/+ ) 11... ♘c6

e11) 12. ♘g5 g6 13. dxc5 ♘xc5 14. ♘f3 ( 14. h4 h6 ) 14... e5! Black tries to make use of the weaknesses on the kingside by sacrificing a pawn. ( 14... d4 15. ♘e4 ♘xe4 16. ♗xe4 e5 ) 15. ♘xd5 ♕g7 16. ♗c4 ♔h8=/∞

e12) 12. dxc5 12... ♘xc5

e121) 13. ♕d2 d4 ( 13... h6 14. O-O-O=/+ ) 14. ♘e4 ♘xe4 15. ♗xe4 e5

e1211) 16. ♘g5 ♗f5=/+

e1212) 16. ♕d3 ♗f5 17. ♗xf5 ♕xf5

e12121) 18. ♘xe5 ♘xe5 19. ♕xf5 ( 19. ♕b3+ ) 19... ♖xf5 20. fxe5 ♖xe5+ 21. ♔d2 ♖ae8=

e12122) 18. ♕xf5 18... ♖xf5 19. ♘xe5 ♘xe5 20. fxe5 ♖xe5+ 21. ♔d2 ♖b5 22. ♖ab1 ♖f8 23. ♖he1=

e1213) 16. O-O exf4 17. ♘e1 ( 17. ♗xc6 bxc6 18. ♘xd4 g5 ) 17... g5 ( 17... ♕e7 18. ♖xf4 ♖xf4 19. ♕xf4+/= ) 18. gxf4 ♗h3 ( 18... ♔h8 19. ♘d3 ) 19. ♗g2 g4

e1214) 16. O-O-O ♗g4 17. ♗xc6 bxc6 18. ♘xe5 ♗xd1 19. ♖xd1 ♖ad8 20. ♕a5 g5 21. ♘d3 gxf4 22. gxf4 ♖f7 23. ♖e1 ♕d6 24. b3=

e1215) 16. ♗d5+ 16... ♔h8 17. ♗xc6 ♕xc6 18. O-O exf4 19. ♘xd4 ♕d5 20. ♖xf4 ( 20. ♘b3 ♕xd2 21. ♘xd2 g5 22. gxf4 gxf4 23. ♔f2 ♖f6 24. ♘f3= ) 20... ♖xf4 21. ♕xf4 ♗h3 22. ♕f2 ♖e8=/∞

e122) 13. ♘g5 g6 transposes to the line after 12.Ng5.

e123) 13. ♕e2 ♗d7 14. O-O-O ♗e8 15. ♖he1 ( 15. ♘g5 ♘xd3+ 16. ♖xd3 ♗g6 17. ♖d2 ♖fe8 18. ♘f3 d4 19. ♘b5 e5 20. ♕c4+ ♗f7 21. ♕c5 ♖ad8 22. ♘g5 e4 23. ♘xf7 ♕xf7 24. ♔b1 ♖d5 25. ♕c4 ♖ed8 26. ♖hd1 e3 27. ♖d3 h6 28. b4 a6 29. ♘a3 ♕e7 30. c3 e2 31. ♖e1 ♔h8 32. ♘c2 ♖5d6 33. cxd4 ♖e6 34. ♖d2 ♖e8 35. ♕c5 ♕d8 36. d5 ♖e4 37. ♕c3 ♘a7 38. d6 ♘b5 39. ♕b3 ♕d7 40. ♕d3 ♖8e6 41. ♔c1 ♖xd6 42. ♕xe4 ♖xd2 43. ♕e3 ♖d1+ 44. ♔b2 ♘d4 45. ♕c3 ♘xc2 0-1 Paehtz,E (2463)-Ulibin,M (2538),Biel 2011 ) 15... ♖c8 16. a3 ♘xd3+ 17. ♕xd3 ♗g6 18. ♕e2 ♗h5

e124) 13. O-O 13... a6 ( 13... ♗d7 14. ♗b5! d4 15. ♘a4 b6 16. ♘xc5 bxc5 17. ♕e2± ) 14. ♕d2 ♗d7 15. ♖ae1 ♖ac8

e2) 10. dxc5 fxe5 11. fxe5 ♘c6 12. ♕e2 ♘xc5

e3) 10. h4? cxd4

e4) 10. O-O 10... ♘c6 11. exf6 ( 11. ♕d2 cxd4 12. exf6 ♘xf6 13. ♘e2 ♕c5= ; 11. dxc5 fxe5! 12. fxe5 ♘dxe5 13. ♘xe5 ♕xc5+ 14. ♔h1 ♖xf1+ 15. ♗xf1 ♘xe5=/+ )

e41) 11... ♘xf6 12. dxc5 ♕xc5+ 13. ♔h1 ♕b4 ( 13... ♗d7 )

e42) 11... ♕xf6

e421) 12. dxc5?

e4211) 12... ♘xc5 13. g3 a6 ( 13... ♗d7 14. ♗b5 ) 14. ♕e2 ♗d7

e4212) 12... ♕xf4 13. ♔h1 ♘xc5 14. ♗b5 ♕d6 ( 14... ♗d7!∓ ) 15. a3 a5 16. ♗e2 ♗d7 17. ♘b5 ♕e7 18. c4 dxc4 19. ♗xc4 ♖f4 20. ♗a2 ♖af8 21. ♘c3 ♘e5 22. ♕e2 ♘xf3 23. ♘d5 ♕h4 24. g3 ♖e4 25. ♕xf3 ♖xf3 26. gxh4 ♖xf1+ 27. ♖xf1 exd5 28. ♗xd5+ ♗e6 29. ♗xe4 ♘xe4 30. ♖e1 ♗d5 31. ♔g1 a4 32. ♔f1 ♗c4+ 33. ♔g2 b5 34. ♖d1 ♔f7 35. ♔f3 ♘c5 36. ♔e3 ♔f6 37. ♔d4 ♘e6+ 38. ♔e4 ♔g6 39. ♔f3 ♔h5 40. ♔g3 g6 41. ♖d7 h6 42. h3 ♗b3 0-1 Salgado Lopez,I (2627)-Timoshenko,G (2518), Mamaia 2012

e422) 12. ♘g5 12... ♕xd4+ ( 12... h6 13. ♘h7 ♕xd4+ 14. ♔h1 ♖f7 ; 12... g6 13. dxc5 ♘xc5 14. g3 ) 13. ♔h1 ( 13. ♖f2 ♘f6 14. ♘b5 ♕b4=/+ ) 13... ♘f6 14. ♘b5 ♕xb2 ( 14... ♕b4 ) 15. ♖b1 ♕xa2 16. ♖a1 ♕b2=

9. dxc5 ♘xc5 10. ♕d2

a) 10... b6 intending to trade the light-squared bishop. 11. ♗d3 ♘c6 ( 11... ♗a6 12. ♗xa6 ♘cxa6 )

b) 10... a6 transposes to the main line.

9... a6 Because White controls the centre it makes sense to play like this. Black's plan is very simple. He expects White to caste queenside and he wants to attack as quickly as possible.

9... cxd4 10. ♘xd4 a6 11. O-O-O b5 ( 11... ♘c6 12. ♔b1 ♘xd4 13. ♕xd4 b5 14. ♗d3 ♗b7 15. ♘e2 ) 12. ♗d3 ( 12. ♔b1 ♗b7 ; 12. h4 b4 ; 12. ♕e3 b4 ) 12... ♘c5 ( 12... b4 ; 12... ♗b7 ) 13. ♔b1 ( 13. h4 b4 ; 13. ♖hf1 ) 13... ♗b7 ( 13... ♕c7 ; 13... b4 ) 14. h4 ♘bd7 ( 14... b4 ) 15. h5 ( 15. a3 ) 15... b4 16. ♘ce2 a5

The most common move is 9... ♘c6 10. dxc5

a) 10... ♘xc5 11. ♕e3! b6 ( 11... a6 12. a3 b5 13. b4 ♘d7 14. ♗d3 f6 15. O-O g6 16. exf6 ♕xf6 17. ♘e2 ♖b8 18. ♘ed4 ♘d8 19. ♘e5 ♘b6 20. ♖ae1 ♖b7 21. g4 ♘c4 22. ♗xc4 dxc4 23. g5 ♕g7 24. ♘g4 ♔h8 25. ♘f6 ♖e7 26. ♖f3 ♘f7 27. ♖h3 h5 28. ♘f5 gxf5 29. ♖xh5+ ♘h6 30. ♖xh6+ ♕xh6 31. gxh6 ♖xf6 32. ♕e5 ♖f7 33. ♖e3 ♔h7 34. ♖g3 ♗d7 35. ♕b8 ♖f8 36. ♕b7 ♖8f7 37. ♕a8 ♖f8 38. ♕xa6 ♖xh6 39. ♕b7 ♖f7 40. ♕a8 ♖g6 41. ♖xg6 ♔xg6 42. ♔f2 ♖h7 43. h4 1-0 Van Kampen,R (2565)-Bajarani,U (2446), Atenas 2012 ) 12. ♗b5 ♗d7 13. ♗xc6 ♗xc6 14. O-O-O ♖ac8 15. ♘d4 ♖fe8 16. ♖he1 ♗d7 17. ♕g3 ♕f8 18. ♖e3 ♖ed8 19. ♕h4 b5 20. f5 b4 21. f6 g6 22. ♘ce2 h5 23. ♕f4 a5 24. g4 hxg4 25. ♖g1 a4 26. ♖xg4 b3 27. ♖h4 bxa2 28. ♖eh3 a1=Q+ 29. ♔d2 ♘e4+ 30. ♕xe4 ♕b4+ 31. ♘c3 1-0 Guseinov,G (2613)-Bajarani,U (2436), Bakú 2012

b) 10... f6 11. exf6 ♕xf6 12. g3 ♘xc5 13. O-O-O ♖d8 14. ♗b5 ( 14. ♕f2 b6 15. ♗g2 ♗d7 16. ♖he1 ♖ac8 17. ♘e5 ♘xe5 18. ♖xe5 ♔h8 19. ♕e3 ♗e8 20. ♔b1 ♗g6 21. ♕d4 ♗f5 22. ♗f3 ♘d7 23. ♖e2 ♕xd4 24. ♖xd4 ♘f6 25. ♘d1 ♗e4 26. ♗xe4 ♘xe4 27. c4 g5 28. cxd5 exd5 29. fxg5 ♘xg5 30. ♘c3 ♘f3 31. ♖xd5 ♖xd5 32. ♘xd5 ♖d8 33. ♘c3 ♖d2 34. h3 ♖xe2 35. ♘xe2 ♔g7 36. ♔c2 ♔f6 37. ♔d3 ♔e5 38. ♔e3 ♘g5 39. ♘g1 ♘e4 40. ♘f3+ ♔d5 41. g4 a5 42. h4 ♘d6 43. ♔f4 a4 44. h5 b5 45. h6 ♘f7 46. g5 b4 47. ♔f5 a3 48. bxa3 bxa3 49. ♔f6 ♘d6 50. g6 1-0 Goloshchapov,A (2561)-Vysochin,S (2494), Ordzhonikidze 2000) 14... ♗d7 15. ♕e3 b6 16. ♖he1 ♖ac8 17. ♗xc6 ♗xc6 18. ♘d4+/=

c) 10... ♕xc5 11. O-O-O ♘b6 12. ♘d4 ( 12. ♔b1 ♗d7 13. ♗d3 ) 12... ♗d7 13. ♘b3 ♕e7 14. ♔b1⁉∞

10. ♗d3 This is not so dangerous because Bh7+ is not a threat with the queen on d2.

10. dxc5 ♘xc5 In this variation there is a difference to the main line 10...Nc6. Because the knight is still on b8, Black wants to play ...Bd7 followed by ...Rc8 in order to make use of the half-open file and to play ...Na4.

a) 11. ♗d3 ♘c6 transposes to the line after 10.Bd3. ( 11... b5 )

b) 11. ♕e3 b5 12. a3 ♗b7 13. ♗d3 h6

c) 11. O-O-O b5 ( 11... ♘c6 )

c1) 12. ♔b1

c2) 12. ♕e3 ♘c6 ( 12... b4 13. ♘e2 a5 14. f5 ♘bd7 ) 13. ♗d3

c21) 13... ♘xd3+

c211) 14. ♖xd3 ♗b7 15. f5

c212) 14. cxd3 b4 15. ♘e2 b3 ( 15... a5 ) 16. a3 d4 17. ♕f2 a5

c213) 14. ♕xd3 14... b4 15. ♘e2 a5 16. ♘g5 f5 ( 16... g6 17. ♕h3 f6 18. exf6 ♖xf6 ) 17. exf6 ( 17. ♕h3 h6 ) 17... gxf6 18. ♘f3 ♕d6 19. ♖he1 ( 19. ♕e3 a4 ) 19... a4 20. ♘fd4 b3 21. axb3 ♘xd4 22. ♕g3+ ♔h8 23. ♘xd4 a3 24. bxa3 ♕xa3+ 25. ♔d2 ♖g8

c22) 13... h6 14. ♔b1 b4 15. ♘e2 a5

c3) 12. a3 12... ♘c6

d) 11. ♘d4 b5

e) 11. ♗e2 b5 ( 11... ♘c6 12. ♘d4 ♗d7 13. O-O ♖ac8 14. a3 ♘xd4 15. ♕xd4 ♗c6 16. ♖ad1 h6 17. ♗f3 ♖fe8 18. ♖fe1 a5 19. f5 exf5 20. ♘xd5 ♗xd5 21. ♗xd5 ♘e6 )

f) 11. a3

f1) 11... b5

f11) 12. b4 ♘e4 13. ♘xe4 dxe4

f111) 14. ♘d4 ♖d8 ( 14... ♗b7 )

f112) 14. ♘g5 14... ♗b7 15. ♕e3 a5

f12) 12. ♖d1 ♗b7

f13) 12. ♕e3 ♗b7

f14) 12. ♗d3 ♖d8

f15) 12. ♗e2 12... ♘c6 ( 12... ♗b7 13. O-O ♘e4 14. ♕e3 ♖c8 ) 13. ♕e3 ♖d8 14. ♖d1 ( 14. ♘d4 ♘xd4 15. ♕xd4 ♗b7 16. O-O-O ♖ab8=/+ ; 14. O-O-O b4 15. axb4 ♘xb4=/+ ; 14. ♘d1 d4=/+ ) 14... ♗b7 ( 14... ♕a7 ; 14... b4 15. axb4 ♘xb4 16. ♖d2 ; 14... ♘d7 15. O-O ; 14... ♖b8 15. b4 ♘d7 16. O-O ♘b6 ) 15. O-O h6 ( 15... ♖ac8 16. ♖fe1 h6 17. ♘d4 ♘xd4 18. ♖xd4 ♘e4 19. ♘xe4 dxe4 20. ♖xd8+ ♖xd8 21. ♖d1 1/2-1/2 Kovacevic,A (2537)-Ulibin,M (2531), Paracin 2012; 15... ♘d7 ) 16. ♖d2 ( 16. ♘d4 ♘xd4 17. ♖xd4 ♖ac8 ; 16. f5 d4 ; 16. ♔h1 ♖ac8 ) 16... ♖ac8 ( 16... ♘d7 ) 17. ♖fd1 ♘d7

f2) 11... ♗d7

f21) 12. ♕e3 ♖c8

f22) 12. O-O-O ♖c8

f23) 12. ♗e2 ♘a4 13. ♘xa4 ♗xa4 14. O-O ( 14. b3 ♗b5 ) 14... ♘c6 15. ♖f2 ♕c5

f24) 12. ♗d3 12... ♘c6 ( 12... ♖c8 ) 13. O-O ( 13. b4 ♘xd3+ 14. cxd3 f6 ; 13. ♕e3 f6 ; 13. g3 b5 ; 13. ♖d1 f6 ) 13... f6 ( 13... ♖ac8 ; 13... f5 ) 14. exf6 ♕xf6

f241) 15. ♖ad1 ♘xd3 16. ♕xd3 ♗e8

f242) 15. ♖ae1 ♘xd3 16. ♕xd3 ( 16. cxd3? ) 16... ♕xf4 17. ♘xd5 exd5 18. ♘e5! ♕d4+ 19. ♕xd4 ♖xf1+ 20. ♔xf1 ♘xd4 21. ♘xd7=

f243) 15. f5 d4 16. ♘e4 ♘xe4 17. ♗xe4 exf5

f244) 15. g3 15... ♗e8 ( 15... ♖ac8 ; 15... ♘xd3 ; 15... b5 )

10. O-O-O b5 ( 10... c4 11. f5 b5 ) 11. ♗d3 c4

10... ♘c6 11. ♕f2

11. O-O-O c4 12. ♗e2 b5

11. dxc5 ♘xc5 12. O-O ♗d7 13. a3 f6 14. exf6 ♕xf6 15. g3 ♗e8

11... f6 This move is fully justified as the rook on f8 eyes the queen on f2.

12. exf6

12. ♕h4 h6=/+

12... ♕xf6 13. dxc5

13. ♘g5 ♕xg5! 14. fxg5 ♖xf2 15. ♔xf2 cxd4 16. ♘e2 e5=/∞

13... ♕xf4 14. O-O ♘f6