Play the French

3. Nc3 Nf6 Sidelines on move five

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. ♘c3 ♘f6 4. e5 ♘fd7 5. ♘ce2 With the intention to stabilize the centre by playing c3. Nce2, however, locks in the f1-bishop and loses a tempo.

5. ♕g4 The queen move to g4 is generally less dangerous when the Bishop on f8 is not developed yet. 5... c5 6. ♘f3 cxd4! 7. ♘b5 ( 7. ♕xd4 is not good, because White loses another tempo after 7... ♘c6 . 8. ♕f4 a6 Stops Nb5. 9. ♗e3 g6 With the idea to play Bg7 and Qc7 to increase the pressure on e5..) 7... ♘c6 8. ♗f4 (It is important to know that the normal looking move 8. ♘d6+? is just bad for White. 8... ♗xd6 9. ♕xg7 ♗b4+ 10. c3 dxc3! 11. ♕xh8+ ♘f8 12. ♔d1 ♕a5 ) 8... a6 9. ♘bxd4 ( 9. ♘d6+ ♗xd6 10. ♕xg7 ♗b4+ 11. c3 dxc3 12. ♕xh8+ ♘f8 ) 9... h5! 10. ♕g3 ( 10. ♕h3 ♘xd4 11. ♘xd4 g5 ) 10... ♘c5

5. ♘f3 White wants to develop his pieces harmoniously. The disadvantage is that he cannot support his centre by playing f4. 5... c5 Black immediately attacks White's centre. 6. dxc5 ♘c6 At first, we attack the pawn on e5 before we recapture on c5.( 6... ♗xc5 7. ♗d3 ♘c6 8. ♕e2+/= )

a) 7. ♗g5 ♗e7 8. ♗xe7 ♕xe7 9. ♗b5 O-O ( 9... ♘xc5 10. O-O O-O 11. ♖e1 ♗d7 12. ♗d3 ♖ac8=/+ 13. a3 a6 14. ♕d2 f6 15. exf6 ♕xf6 16. ♗f1 d4 17. ♘e4 ♘xe4 18. ♖xe4 e5 19. ♗c4+ ♔h8 20. ♗d3 ♗f5 21. ♖ee1 ♖ce8 22. ♘g5 ♘e7 23. ♗xf5 ♘xf5 24. ♘e4 ♕c6 25. ♖e2 d3 26. ♕xd3 ♖d8 27. ♕c3 ♘d4 28. ♕xc6 ♘xe2+ 29. ♔f1 bxc6 30. ♔xe2 ♖d4 31. f3 a5 32. a4 ♖b8 33. b3 ♖bd8 34. ♖c1 ♔g8 35. h3 h6 36. ♔e1 ♔f7 37. ♔e2 ♔e7 38. ♖e1 ♖4d5 39. ♖c1 ♔e6 40. g4 ♔e7 41. h4 c5 42. c4 ♖d3 43. ♖b1 ♖3d4 44. ♘xc5 ♖b8 45. ♖c1 ♔d6 46. ♘e4+ ♔c6 47. ♖c3 g6 48. ♘f2 ♖d7 49. ♘d3 ♖db7 50. ♘xe5+ ♔d6 51. ♘xg6 ♖xb3 52. ♔d3 ♖3b4 53. ♔d4 ♖xa4 54. f4 ♖a1 55. c5+ ♔c7 56. g5 hxg5 57. hxg5 a4 58. ♔c4 a3 59. ♘e7 a2 60. ♘d5+ ♔c6 61. ♖c2 ♖e1 62. ♖xa2 ♖e4+ 63. ♔d3 ♔xd5 64. ♖f2 ♖d4+ 0-1 Gelashvili,T (2551)-Radjabov,T (2610), Chalkidiki 2002)

a1) 10. ♕e2 a6 ( 10... ♕xc5 )

a2) 10. ♗xc6 bxc6 11. O-O ♖b8 12. ♖b1 ♕xc5=/+ 13. ♖e1 ♖b4 14. ♕d2 f6 15. a3 ♖c4 16. b4 ♕e7 17. ♘a4 ♖g4 18. h3 ♖g6 19. ♕d4 ♕f7 20. ♖b3 fxe5 21. ♘xe5 ♘xe5 22. ♖xe5 ♖f6 23. f3 ♕g6 24. ♕f2 ♖f4 25. ♘c5 ♖c4 26. ♖d3 ♖f5 27. ♖xf5 ♕xf5 28. ♕g3 ♖xc2 29. ♖e3 h6 30. ♕c7 ♕g5 0-1 Bellini,F (2492)-Bauer,C (2650), Switzerland 2005

a3) 10. O-O 10... ♘dxe5 11. ♘xe5 ♘xe5=

b) 7. ♗f4 7... ♘xc5 This is more restrained than the ususal option of going ...Bxc5. The plan includes the moves ...Be7, ...Bd7 and ...a6/b5.

b1) 8. ♗e2 ♗e7 9. O-O ( 9. ♕d2 a6 ) 9... a6

b11) 10. ♖e1 d4 11. ♘b1 g5 12. ♗g3 h5 13. h3 g4!N 14. hxg4 hxg4 15. ♘fd2 ( 15. ♘h2 ♘e4 ) 15... ♗h4

b12) 10. a3 10... d4! 11. ♘a2 g5 12. ♗g3 ( 12. b4 ♘a4 13. ♗g3 b5 ) 12... h5 13. h3 ♘e4 ( 13... g4 ) 14. ♘b4 ♘xg3 15. fxg3 ♕b6

b2) 8. ♕d2 ♗e7 9. O-O-O a6 10. h4 b5 11. ♖h3 ( 11. h5 h6 12. ♖h3 b4 13. ♘e2 ♘e4=/+ ) 11... b4

b3) 8. ♗d3 8... ♗e7

b31) 9. O-O White does not castle queenside, but White's King can also be attacked on the kingside.

b311) 9... ♘xd3

b3111) 10. ♕xd3 g5 ( 10... a6 11. a3 ♗d7 12. ♘e2 ♖c8 13. ♖fd1 h6 ) 11. ♗g3 h5 12. h3 a6

b3112) 10. cxd3 10... g5

b312) 9... g5 10. ♗g3 h5 11. h3 a6 12. a3 ♘xd3 13. ♕xd3 ♗d7 ( 13... g4 14. hxg4 hxg4 15. ♘h2 ♗c5 16. ♘xg4 ♕g5 17. ♕f3 ♔f8 ) 14. ♘e2 ♕c7

b32) 9. h4 9... a6 It is very important to delay castling and instead continue play on the queenside in order not to give White attacking chances against Black's king. ( 9... O-O 10. ♗xh7+ ) 10. h5 ♗d7 11. ♖h3 f5=/+

5... c5 6. c3

6. f4 ♘c6

a) 7. ♘f3 cxd4 8. ♘exd4 ♘c5 leads to a quiet postion. Black can develop normally by playing ...Be7, ...Bd7, ...a6/b5, ...Rc8 and ...0-0. 9. c3 ♗d7 10. ♗e2 ♘e4 11. O-O ( 11. ♗e3 ♕b6 ) 11... ♕b6=

b) 7. c3 leads to the main line.

6... ♘c6 7. f4 White proceeds with his plan to establish a solid pawn chain.

7. ♘f3 ♕a5 Black wants to play ...cxd4 and make use of the pinned c-pawn. .( 7... a5 8. g3 ♗e7 ; 7... ♕b6 )

a) 8. ♗d2 Unpins the c-pawn, but reduces White's control over d4. 8... ♕b6 9. ♕b3 ( 9. a3 ♕xb2 10. ♖b1 ♕xa3 11. ♖a1 ♕b2= ; 9. ♕c2 cxd4 10. cxd4 f6 11. exf6 ♘xf6= ; 9. ♖b1 cxd4 10. cxd4 f6 destroys White's centre. 11. exf6 ♘xf6 12. ♗e3 ♗d6 13. ♘c3 O-O 14. ♗d3 ♘b4 15. ♗e2 ♘g4 ) 9... ♕xb3 10. axb3 a6

b) 8. ♗f4 ♕b6 9. ♕c2 ♗e7 10. a3 f6! Also at this point the attack against White's centre works well. 11. exf6 ♘xf6 12. b4 c4 ( 12... cxb4 13. axb4 O-O )

c) 8. a3 8... cxd4! 9. b4 ♕c7 10. cxd4 b5! The key move for Black. He continues by playing ...Nb6-c4 and later ...a5.

c1) 11. ♗d2 ♘b6

c2) 11. ♘f4 ♕b6 ( 11... a5 12. ♗xb5 axb4 ) 12. ♖b1 h6 13. ♗e3 a5 14. ♘d3 axb4 15. axb4 ♖a4 16. ♕d2 ♕a7 17. ♕c3 ♗b7 18. ♗e2 ♖a3 19. ♕c1 ♖a2 20. ♗d1 ♕a3 21. ♕xa3 ♖xa3 22. ♘c5 ♗xc5 1/2-1/2 Nepomniachtchi,I (2733) -Ponomariov,R (2744), Wijk aan Zee 2011

c3) 11. ♘c3 11... a6! 12. ♗d2 ♘b6 13. ♗d3 ♗e7 ( 13... ♘c4 14. O-O ♗d7 15. ♗c1 ♗e7 16. h4 h6 17. h5 ♕b6 18. ♔h1 a5 19. ♗xc4 dxc4 20. d5 axb4 21. ♗e3 ♕b7 22. axb4 ♖xa1 23. ♕xa1 ♘xb4 24. d6 ♗g5 25. ♖b1 ♗xe3 26. fxe3 ♘c2 27. ♕a2 ♘xe3 28. ♘xb5 O-O 29. ♘bd4 ♕e4 30. ♖e1 ♖b8 31. ♕a7 ♖b1 32. ♖xb1 ♕xb1+ 33. ♔h2 ♘f1+ 34. ♔h3 ♘e3 35. ♔h2 ♘f1+ 36. ♔h3 ♘e3 1/2-1/2 Brkic,A (2605)-Martinovic,S (2504), Zadar 2011 ) 14. O-O ♘c4

7... b5 8. ♘f3

8. a3 c4! Followed by ...a5/b4 in order to open up the queenside as well as ...Nb6 and ...Bd7. In some cases also ...f6 or ...f5 is playable with the intention to block the centre. The queen remains in the centre or should be placed on the queenside. 9. ♘f3

a) 9... ♘a5 10. ♗e3 ♘b3 11. ♖b1 ♘b6

a1) 12. ♘c1 ♘xc1 ( 12... ♘a5 ) 13. ♕xc1 ♗e7 14. ♗e2 a5 15. O-O ♗d7 16. ♕e1 b4 ( 16... ♕c7 17. f5 ) 17. ♕g3 g6 18. f5 exf5 19. ♗h6 ♘a4

a2) 12. g4 12... h5=/+

b) 9... ♘b6 10. g4 ( 10. ♗e3 g6 ) 10... h5 11. gxh5 ♖xh5 12. ♘g3 ♖h8=/+

8. dxc5 ♘xc5

a) 9. ♘d4 ♗d7 10. ♗xb5 ( 10. ♘xb5 ♘e4 11. ♘f3 ♗c5=/+ ) 10... ♘xd4 11. ♗xd7+ ♕xd7 12. cxd4 ♘e4 13. a3 ♖b8 14. ♘f3 a5 15. O-O ♗e7=

b) 9. ♗e3 ♗d7=

c) 9. ♘f3 9... ♗d7 10. ♗e3 ♖c8 11. ♘ed4 ( 11. a3 ♗e7= ) 11... ♘xd4 12. ♗xd4 ♗e7 13. ♗e2 a5 14. O-O b4=

8... b4! Black immediately attacks White's pawn chain and gets counterplay.

9. cxb4

9. dxc5 ♗xc5 10. ♘ed4 ♕b6=/+

9. f5 exf5 10. ♘f4 This is a complex position that you should know well. 10... bxc3 11. bxc3

a) 11... ♖b8 12. ♕a4 ( 12. ♗d2 ) 12... ♘b6=/+ 13. ♕xc6+ ♗d7 14. ♗b5 ♗e7 15. dxc5 O-O 16. cxb6 ♗xc6 17. ♗xc6 ♖xb6 18. ♗a4 d4 19. O-O dxc3 20. ♖d1 ♗c5+ 21. ♔h1 ♕c8 22. ♘d5 h6 23. ♘xc3 ♖d8 24. ♖xd8+ ♕xd8 25. ♗b3 ♕d3 26. ♗b2 ♖xb3 27. axb3 ♕c2 28. ♘a4 ♗e3 29. b4 g5 30. ♗d4 f4 31. h3 h5 32. ♘c5 g4 33. ♘e1 ♕f5 34. ♗xe3 fxe3 35. ♘ed3 gxh3 36. ♖g1 hxg2+ 37. ♖xg2+ ♔f8 38. ♖g3 e2 39. ♖e3 h4 40. ♔h2 ♕g5 41. ♘d7+ ♔g7 42. ♖xe2 ♕g3+ 43. ♔h1 ♕h3+ 44. ♔g1 ♕xd7 45. ♘f2 ♕f5 46. ♖e4 ♕f3 47. ♔f1 h3 48. ♖g4+ ♔f8 49. ♖h4 ♕g2+ 50. ♔e2 h2 51. ♖h5 ♔g7 52. ♖h4 ♕g3 53. ♖e4 ♕xf2+ 0-1 Smirin, I (2658)-Vallejo Pons,F (2707), Nakhchivan 2011

b) 11... ♕a5!N

b1) 12. ♘xd5 ♖b8 13. a4 ( 13. ♗d2 cxd4 14. c4 ♕c5=/+ ) 13... cxd4 14. ♗b5 ♘e7 15. ♕b3 ( 15. ♖b1 ♖b7 16. ♕b3 a6 17. ♘g5 axb5 18. ♘xe7 ♕xc3+ 19. ♕xc3 dxc3 20. ♘xc8 b4=/+ ) 15... ♗b7

b2) 12. ♗d2 12... c4 13. ♘g5 ♘d8=/+

9. ♗e3 ♖b8 10. dxc5 bxc3 11. bxc3 ♘xc5=/+

9. g3 bxc3 10. bxc3 ♖b8 11. ♗g2 ♗a6 12. O-O cxd4 13. cxd4 ♗e7=/+

9... ♘xb4! 10. a3

10. ♘c3 ♘c6

10... ♘c6 11. dxc5 ♗xc5 12. b4 ♗b6 13. ♗b2

13. ♘g3 O-O 14. ♗d3 h6=/+

13... O-O