Play the French

Rare third moves

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. ♗d3

3. ♗e3 dxe4 4. ♘d2 trying to win back the pawn immediately. 4... ♘f6 5. f3 ♘d5 Black does not capture on f3 in order not to give White a lead in development. Also it is unclear where the bishop on e3 wants to move. 6. ♕e2 ( 6. ♗f2 e3−+ ) 6... c5 attacks d4 and ensures the bishop pair. ( 6... ♘c6 7. c3 exf3 8. ♘gxf3 ♗e7=/+ ) 7. dxc5 ( 7. fxe4 ♘xe3 8. ♕xe3 cxd4=/+ ) 7... ♕a5!

a) 8. O-O-O ♕xa2 9. ♘b3 ( 9. fxe4 ♘xe3 10. ♕xe3 ♕a1+ 11. ♘b1 ♗e7=/+ ) 9... a5 10. fxe4 ♘xe3 11. ♕xe3 a4 12. ♗b5+ ♘c6 13. ♕d4 ( 13. ♘d2 a3 14. bxa3 ♖xa3 ) 13... ♗e7 14. ♕xg7 ♖f8 15. ♘d4 ♕a1+ 16. ♔d2 ♕xb2

b) 8. c3 8... ♘xe3 9. ♕xe3 ♗xc5 10. ♕xe4 ♕c7=/+

3. c4 This pawn sacrifice can at best be played on amateur level. 3... dxe4 It is not easy for White to regain this pawn. 4. ♘c3 ♘f6 A natural development of the knight that defends the pawn on e4. 5. f3 White wants to get a lead in development after ...exf3. 5... ♗b4! pins the knight on c3 so that Black could take on e4 with the knight after fxe4..

a) 6. ♗g5 c5

b) 6. fxe4 c5 ( 6... ♘xe4 )

c) 6. a3 6... ♗xc3+ 7. bxc3 c5

3... dxe4

3... c5

4. ♗xe4 ♘f6 5. ♗f3 c5 6. ♘e2

6. c3 ♘c6 7. ♘e2 transposes to the main line.

6... ♘c6

6... cxd4 7. ♕xd4 ♗d7 ( 7... ♘bd7 8. O-O ♗c5 9. ♕f4 O-O 10. ♘bc3+/= ) 8. ♗xb7 ( 8. O-O ♘c6 ) 8... ♘c6 9. ♗xc6 (The same position is reached after 9. ♕d1 ♖b8 10. ♗xc6 ♗xc6 11. ♕xd8+ ♖xd8 ..) 9... ♗xc6 10. ♕xd8+ ♖xd8

a) 11. O-O ♗e4 12. ♗e3 a6 13. ♘d4 ( 13. c3? ♗d3 ) 13... e5=/∞

b) 11. f3 11... ♘d5=/∞

7. c3 supports the centre. White is willing to play with an isolated pawn if necessary. Also White prevents ...Ne5 which would attack the bishop on f3.

7. ♗e3 cxd4 8. ♘xd4 ♘e5 Here we can see the idea of ...c5. White's pawn on d4 is gone and Black's knight on e5 can attack the bishop on f3. With this manoeuvre Black reduces the pressure on his queenside. 9. O-O a6 There is no need to hurry to exchange on f3 because White's queen would exert similar pressure on the diagonal. Therefore, Black continues developing by playing ...Bd6 without being annoyed by White's knight on b5. 10. ♗e2 ( 10. ♘c3 ♗d6 11. ♕e2 O-O= ) 10... ♗d6 11. f4 ♘g6 12. ♘c3 O-O 13. ♕d2 ♕e7 followed by ...Rd8.

7... ♗e7 7...e5 is also possible, but by playing 7...Be7 Black avoids trading pieces to get even more than equality out of the opening.

7... e5 8. ♗xc6+ ( 8. O-O? e4 9. ♗xe4 ♘xe4 10. d5 ♗d7 11. dxc6 ♗xc6=/+ ) 8... bxc6 9. O-O ( 9. dxe5? ♕xd1+ 10. ♔xd1 ♘g4 ) 9... cxd4 ( 9... exd4 10. cxd4 ♗e7 11. dxc5 ♕xd1 12. ♖xd1 ♗xc5= ) 10. cxd4 ♗d6 11. dxe5 ♗xe5 12. ♕xd8+ ♔xd8 13. ♘bc3 ♔c7=

8. O-O O-O 9. ♘a3

9. dxc5 ♘e5!=/+

9. ♗e3 cxd4 forces White to make a decision. 10. cxd4 ( 10. ♘xd4 ♘d5 attacks the bishop on e3. 11. ♘xc6 bxc6 12. ♗d4 ♕c7=/+ ) 10... ♘d5 11. ♘d2 ( 11. ♘bc3 ♘xe3 12. fxe3 ♗g5! 13. ♕d2 ♘e5=/+ ) 11... ♘xe3 12. fxe3 ♗g5 13. ♕b3 e5 14. ♗xc6 bxc6 15. ♘f3 ♗e6

9... cxd4 10. cxd4

10. ♘xd4 ♘e5=/+

10... ♗d7 11. ♘c4 ♖c8 A fight for the square d5 will follow. Black has various ideas: ...Be8/...Nd5 and later on ...Bf6 and...Ne7. Alternatively, Black could defend the pawn on b7 by playing ...Qc7 and follow up with ...Nb4. Sometimes Black can even sacrifice the pawn on b7. White's pieces are badly placed for a typical isolani positon.


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