Play the French

3. Nd2 c5 Alternatives on move four

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. ♘d2 c5 In this chapter I cover the alternatives of 4.exd5.

4. ♘gf3

4. c3 cxd4 5. cxd4 dxe4 6. ♘xe4 This position with the isolated pawn on d4 is good for Black. 6... ♘f6! A strong move that combines several ideas. Black attacks the knight immediately on e4 and forces White to make a decision. Furthermore, he fights for the d5-square which is important when playing against an isolated pawn. With the isolani White should avoid trades which usually favour Black. 7. ♗d3 ( 7. ♘xf6+ ♕xf6 8. ♘f3 ♗b4+ 9. ♗d2 ♗xd2+ 10. ♕xd2 ♗d7= 11. ♘e5 ♗c6 12. ♖c1 O-O 13. ♗d3 ♗d5 14. O-O ♕e7 15. ♕c2 g6 16. ♗e4 ♕d6 17. ♗xd5 ♕xd5 18. ♕a4 f6 19. ♖c5 ♕d6 20. ♘c4 ♕xd4 21. ♖c7 ♘a6 22. ♖d7 ♘c5 23. ♖xd4 ♘xa4 24. ♘d6 ♖fd8 25. ♖fd1 ♘c5 26. b4 ♘a4 27. ♘xb7 ♖xd4 28. ♖xd4 ♘c3 29. ♖d2 ♖b8 30. ♘c5 ♖xb4 31. g3 e5 32. ♖d8+ ♔g7 33. ♖d7+ ♔h6 34. ♖xa7 ♖b1+ 35. ♔g2 ♖b2 36. a4 ♘d1 37. ♘e4 f5 38. ♖d7 ♘e3+ 39. ♔f3 ♘g4 40. h3 ♘h2+ 41. ♔g2 fxe4 42. ♔xh2 e3 43. ♖d1 ♔g5 44. ♖a1 e2 45. ♔g2 ♖a2 46. ♖e1 1/2-1/2 Crawley,G (2385)-Huebner,R (2600), Lugano 1989; 7. ♘c3 ♗d7 8. ♘f3 ♗c6 9. ♘e5 ♗d6= ) 7... ♗d7! aims for c6 in order to fight for d5. Further ideas that Black should remember: ...Bb4+ in order to trade another piece. Also, it is no problem to leave the knight on b8 for now and castle first.

a) An important line is 8. ♘f3 ♘xe4 9. ♗xe4 ♗c6 10. ♕d3 ♗b4+ 11. ♗d2 ♗xe4 12. ♕xe4 ♗xd2+ 13. ♘xd2 ♘c6=/+ Black traded several pieces and therefore White's potential for a kingside attack is significantly diminished. It is quite likely that an endgame will arise in which Black is slightly better due to his better pawn structure. 14. ♘b3 O-O 15. O-O ♕f6 16. ♘c5 ♕xd4 17. ♕xd4 ♘xd4 18. ♖fd1 e5 19. ♘xb7 ♖fb8 20. ♘d6 ♖xb2 21. ♘c4 ♖b5 22. ♖ab1 ♖c5 23. ♘e3 h5 24. ♖b7 a5 25. g3 ♖ac8 26. ♔g2 g5 27. ♖d7 ♖b8 28. g4 h4 29. ♖d2 ♔g7 30. ♖d6 ♖b4 31. ♘d5 ♖b1 32. ♘f6 ♖c3 33. ♘h5+ ♔f8 34. f3 ♖bc1 35. ♖d5 0-1 Feuerstack,A (2421)-Vallejo Pons,F (2700), Bundesliga 2012

b) 8. ♘xf6+ ♕xf6 9. ♘f3 ♗b4+ 10. ♗d2 ( 10. ♔f1 h6 ) 10... ♗xd2+ 11. ♕xd2 ♗c6=/+

c) 8. ♘c3 8... ♗c6 9. ♘f3 ♘bd7 10. O-O ♗e7= ( 10... ♗d6 )

4. dxc5 ♗xc5

a) 5. exd5 exd5! ( 5... ♕xd5 transposes to the main line. ) 6. ♘b3 ♗b6 transposes to the line after 5.Nb3.

b) 5. ♗d3 ♘f6 6. ♕e2 ♘c6 7. ♘gf3 O-O 8. O-O ♕c7 ( 8... ♘b4 ) 9. e5 ♘g4 10. ♘b3 ( 10. ♗xh7+ ♔xh7 11. ♘g5+ ♔g8 12. ♕xg4 ♕xe5=/+ ) 10... ♗b6 11. ♗xh7+ ( 11. ♗f4 f6=/+ ) 11... ♔xh7 12. ♘g5+ ♔g8 13. ♕xg4 ♘xe5=/+ 14. ♕d1 ♗d7 15. a4 a5 16. c3 f6 17. ♘f3 ♕c4 18. ♘bd4 ♘d3 19. ♘d2 ♕c7 20. ♘2f3 ♘xc1 21. ♖xc1 e5 22. ♘e2 ♗c6 23. ♔h1 ♕d7 24. b3 ♖ae8 25. ♘e1 g5 26. ♕d2 ♔g7 27. ♘c2 ♖h8 28. ♘g3 d4 29. cxd4 ♕h3 0-1 Kholmov,R (2435)-Ivanov,S (2490), St. Petersburg 1996

c) 5. ♘b3 5... ♗b6! The bishop is well placed on b6 because it exerts pressure on f2 and White's kingside. 6. exd5 exd5 ( 6... ♕xd5? is a mistake, because it leads to a position with an isolated where Black has no attacking chances. .) 7. ♘f3 ♘f6 Black's game is easy. He castles kingside and puts his b8-knight on c6 in order to attack the square d4. It is no problem if the knight is traded because the arising c-pawn protects the pawn on d5. 8. ♗b5+ ( 8. ♗e2 O-O 9. O-O ♘c6 10. ♗g5 h6 11. ♗h4 g5 12. ♗g3 ♘e4 ) 8... ♘c6 9. O-O O-O 10. ♗g5 There is a strong reply to this pin which you should know about. 10... h6 11. ♗h4 g5 12. ♗g3 ( 12. ♘xg5? hxg5 13. ♗xg5 ♕d6−+ White sacrificed a piece for nothing. ) 12... ♘e4 Black's pieces are very well-coordinated. The bishop on b6 and the knight on e4 work well together. Black is ready to advance his f-pawn to f4 and to pressure the bishop on g3. White cannot reply by h3 because the bishop on g3 can be taken as the f-pawn is pinned.

4... cxd4 5. ♘xd4

5. exd5 ♕xd5 transposes to the main line after 4. exd5.

5... ♘f6 6. exd5

6. e5 leads to a typical French structure in which Black has no problems. 6... ♘fd7 7. ♘2f3 ♘c6 Black's pieces attack the pawn on e5. 8. ♗f4 ( 8. ♗b5 ♕b6 9. ♘xc6 bxc6 10. ♗d3 ♘c5 ; 8. ♘xc6 bxc6 This structure favours Black because the c-pawn can come to c5 where he controls important squares. 9. ♗d3 ♕c7 10. ♕e2 ♘c5 11. O-O h6 12. ♗e3 ♖b8 13. b3 ♗e7 ) 8... ♕b6 the queen attacks b2 and d4. 9. ♖b1 ♘xd4 10. ♘xd4 ♗c5=

6. ♗b5+ ♗d7 offers simplifications. 7. ♗xd7+ ( 7. exd5 ♗xb5 8. ♘xb5 a6 9. ♘c3 ♘xd5 10. ♘xd5 ♕xd5 11. O-O ♘c6= ) 7... ♘bxd7 8. exd5 ♘e5⁉N ( 8... ♘xd5 9. O-O ♗e7= )

a) 9. f4 ♘xd5 10. ♕e2 ( 10. fxe5 ♕h4+ ) 10... ♘g6=

b) 9. O-O 9... ♕xd5=

6. ♗d3 e5 ( 6... ♘c6 ) 7. ♘4f3 dxe4 8. ♘xe4 ♘xe4 9. ♗xe4 ♕xd1+ 10. ♔xd1 ♘d7 11. ♔e2 f6 The black center restricts the knight on f3. 12. ♗e3 ( 12. c4 ♘c5 13. ♗d5 ♗e6 ) 12... ♘c5 13. ♗d5 ♗f5 14. c4 ♗d3+=

6... ♘xd5 7. ♘2f3

7. ♗d3 ♗d7 intends ...Nc6. 8. c4 ( 8. O-O ♘c6 9. ♘xc6 ♗xc6 10. ♘f3 ♘b4= ) 8... ♘f6 9. O-O ♘c6 10. ♘2f3 ♘xd4 11. ♘xd4 ♗d6 12. ♕f3 ( 12. ♘f3 ♕c7 ) 12... ♗e5=

7. a3 a6 8. ♘2f3 ♗d6 9. ♗d3 O-O 10. O-O ♘f6 11. ♗g5 ♘bd7 12. ♕e2 ♕c7 13. ♖ad1 b6 14. c4 ( 14. ♗b5 axb5 15. ♘xb5 ♗a6 16. ♘xc7 ♗xe2=/+ ) 14... ♗b7=

7. c3 ♗e7 ( 7... e5 8. ♘4f3 ) 8. ♘2f3 O-O 9. ♗d3 ♘c6 10. ♘xc6 bxc6 11. O-O ♕c7 12. ♕e2 ♖d8=

7... ♗b4+ 8. ♗d2

8. c3? can be answered by 8... ♘xc3 9. bxc3 ♗xc3+ 10. ♗d2 ♗xd4!=/+ .

8... O-O In order to equalize Black needs to solve his problem with the Bc8. Either he plays ...Bb7 or ..e5 and ...Be6/g4.

9. ♗xb4

9. c4 ♗xd2+ ( 9... e5 10. cxd5 ♗xd2+ 11. ♕xd2 exd4 12. ♕xd4 ♖e8+ 13. ♗e2 ♗f5=/∞ 14. ♕d2 ♗e4 15. d6 ♗xf3 16. gxf3 ♕h4 17. O-O-O ♕xf2 18. ♗c4 ♕xd2+ 19. ♖xd2 ♘c6 20. h4 ♔f8 21. ♗d5 ♖ad8 22. ♗e4 1/2-1/2 Howell,D (2633)-Stellwagen,D (2625), Schachbundesliga 2010/11.) 10. ♕xd2 ♘f6 11. ♗d3 ♘bd7 12. ♗c2 ( 12. O-O e5 ) 12... b6 13. O-O ♗b7=

9. ♗c4

a) 9... ♗xd2+ 10. ♕xd2 ♘e7 11. O-O+/=

b) 9... ♗c5 10. O-O ( 10. c3 b6 11. ♗g5 ♕e8 12. O-O ♗b7 13. ♖e1 ♘d7 14. a4 ♖c8 15. ♕e2 h6 16. ♗d2 ♘7f6 17. ♗d3 ♕d8 18. ♘b5 ♘h5 19. ♕e4 1/2-1/2 Delgado Ramirez,N (2417)-Vallejo Pons,F (2494), Havanna 1999; 10. ♘b3 ♗e7 11. O-O ♘c6 1/2-1/2 Godena,M (2526)-Bellini,F (2492), Turin 2012) 10... ♘c6=

c) 9... ♗d6 10. O-O ( 10. ♗xd5 exd5 11. O-O ) 10... ♘c6 11. ♘xc6 ( 11. ♗xd5 ♘xd4 12. ♘xd4 exd5 13. ♗c3 ♖e8 14. ♖e1 ♖xe1+ 15. ♕xe1 ♗d7 16. ♕d2 ♕f6 17. ♖e1 ♕f4 ) 11... bxc6 12. ♕e2 ♕b6 13. b3 a5 14. ♗d3 ♖d8 15. ♖ad1 ♘b4 16. ♗c4 ♘d5 17. a4 ♕c7=

d) 9... e5 This is dangerous. 10. ♘xe5 ( 10. ♘b5 e4 11. ♗xd5? exf3 12. ♗xb4? ♕e8+ 13. ♔d2 ♕xb5 14. ♔c3 ♗e6 15. ♗xe6 ♘c6 16. ♗xf8 ♕e5+ 17. ♔b3 ♘d4+ 18. ♔b4 ♕b5+ 19. ♔c3 ♘e2+ 20. ♔d2 ♖d8+ 21. ♔e3 ♕e5+ 22. ♔xf3 ♘d4+ 0-1 Fedorchuk,S (2662)-Martinovic,S (2504), Aix-les-Bains 2011) 10... ♖e8 11. ♘f3

e) 9... ♘c6! 10. ♗xb4 ( 10. ♘xc6 ♗xd2+ 11. ♕xd2 bxc6 12. O-O ♕b6 13. c3 ♗a6= ) 10... ♘dxb4 11. c3 ( 11. ♘xc6 ♘xc6 12. O-O b6= ) 11... ♘xd4 12. ♘xd4 e5!=

9. c3 ♗d6 10. ♗d3 ♘c6

9... ♘xb4 10. c3 ♘4c6 Simplifies the position to facilitate the defence.

11. ♗d3

11. ♗c4 b6 12. ♕e2 ♘xd4 13. ♘xd4 ♗b7 14. O-O ♘c6 15. ♖ad1 ♕e7=

11. ♘b5 ♘d7 12. ♗e2 ♘f6 13. O-O a6 14. ♘d6 ♕c7 15. ♘xc8 ♖axc8 16. ♖e1 ♖fd8 17. ♕b3 ♘a5 18. ♕c2 ♘c4 19. ♖ad1 h6 20. h3 b5 21. ♘d4 ♘b6 22. ♗f3 ♖d6 23. ♕e2 ♘c4 24. ♕c2 ♖cd8 25. ♘b3 ♘d5 26. ♘d4 ♘f6 27. ♖c1 ♖6d7 28. ♗e2 ♘b6 29. ♗f3 ♘c4 30. ♗e2 ♘b6 31. ♗f3 1/2-1/2 Dgebuadze,A (2521)-Eingorn,V (2558), Metz 2011

11... e5 12. ♘b3 ♕e7 13. O-O ♗e6 14. ♕e2 ♘d7=