Play the French

3.exd5

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 The arising symmetrical positions tend to be very drawish.

3... exd5 Capturing with the queen cannot be recommended. Black is simply worse after that.

4. ♘f3

4. c4 This move is not precise because Black can bring his dark-squared bishop to b4. 4... ♘f6 5. ♘c3 ♗b4

a) 6. ♗d3 O-O 7. ♘e2 ( 7. ♘f3 c5 8. O-O dxc4 9. ♗xc4 ) 7... dxc4 8. ♗xc4 ♘bd7 9. O-O ♘b6 10. ♗b3 ♖e8 11. ♗g5 h6 12. ♗h4 ♗e6 13. d5 ♗g4 14. f3 ♗f5 15. ♘g3 ♗g6 16. ♘ge4 ♗e7=

b) 6. ♘f3 6... O-O 7. ♗e2 dxc4 As soon as White develops his light-squared bishop, it is typical to capture on c4 to gain a tempo. 8. ♗xc4 ( 8. O-O ♗e6 9. ♘g5 ♕d7 10. ♘xe6 ♕xe6 11. ♗f3 ♕a6 ) 8... ♘c6=

4. ♗d3 ♗d6 ( 4... c5 ) 5. ♘f3 ( 5. ♘c3 c6 ) 5... ♘c6 transposes to the main line.

4... ♗d6 5. c4

5. ♗d3 ♘c6 ( 5... ♘f6 )

a) 6. c3 ♘ge7 ( 6... ♕e7+ 7. ♗e3 ; 6... ♘f6 7. O-O O-O 8. ♗g5 h6 9. ♗h4= ) 7. ♕c2 ( 7. O-O transposes to the line after 6. 0-0.) 7... ♗g4! 8. ♘bd2 ♕d7 Usually Black castles short, but he can also castle queenside and attack on the kingside by playing ...f6-g5-h5. 9. O-O h6 10. ♖e1 O-O 11. h3 ♗f5=

b) 6. O-O 6... ♘ge7 ( 6... ♗g4 7. c3 ♘ge7 ) 7. c3 O-O With the idea to follow up with ...Bf5 and ...Qd7.

b1) 8. ♕c2 h6 9. h3 ♘g6 ( 9... ♗e6 ) 10. ♗xh6 ( 10. ♗xg6 fxg6 11. ♕xg6 ♖xf3 12. gxf3 ♕h4 13. f4 ♗xh3 ) 10... gxh6 11. ♗xg6 fxg6 12. ♕xg6+=

b2) 8. ♖e1 ♗f5=

b3) 8. ♗g5 8... h6 9. ♗h4 ♗e6 10. ♘bd2 ♕d7=

5... ♘f6 6. ♘c3

6. c5 ♗e7 and Black has no 7. ♘c3 ( 7. ♗d3 O-O 8. O-O b6 ) 7... O-O 8. ♗d3 b6 9. cxb6 axb6 10. O-O c5=

6... O-O This is the critical position of the line.

7. cxd5 wins a pawn temporarily.

7. ♗e2 dxc4 As said, we capture on c4 after White's light-squared bishop has moved. 8. O-O ♗e6 9. ♘g5 ♗f5 10. ♗xc4 ♘c6=

7. ♗g5 ♖e8+ 8. ♗e2 dxc4 9. O-O ♗e6 10. ♘e5 ♘c6 ( 10... c6 11. f4 ♗e7 ) 11. f4 ♕e7

7... ♘bd7 8. ♗e2

8. ♗g5 h6 9. ♗h4 ♘b6 10. ♗e2 ♗e7 11. O-O ♘bxd5 12. ♗c4 ♗e6 13. ♘e5 ♘xc3 14. bxc3 ♗xc4 15. ♘xc4 c5=

8... ♘b6 attacks the pawn on d5.

9. ♗g5 h6 10. ♗xf6

10. ♗h4 ♗e7 unpins and prepares taking on d5.

10... ♕xf6 11. O-O ♖e8 12. ♖e1 ♗d7=/∞ Black has sufficient compensation for the pawn thanks to the bishop pair and the weakness on d5.


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