Play the French

3. Nd2 Main line

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. ♘d2 c5 4. exd5 ♕xd5 Black recaptures with the queen to avoid positions with an isolated pawn on d5. The knight on g8 is developed on f6 while the other knight goes to c6 and sometimes to d7. The usual problem for Black in this structure is his bishop on c8 that requires several tempi to be developed. It can be liberated by the pawn moves ...b5 or ...e5.

5. ♘gf3

5. dxc5 ♗xc5 6. ♘gf3 ♘f6

a) 7. ♗d3 prepares short castling. White has the idea to play Qe2 and Ne4 and try to make use of the vulnerable position of Black's queen. 7... O-O

a1) 8. ♘b3 e5 This loses a pawn but leaves Black with a good position. 9. ♗xh7+ ♔xh7 10. ♕xd5 ♘xd5 11. ♘xc5 ♘b4 ( 11... f6 ) 12. ♔d1 ♖d8+ 13. ♗d2 b6 14. ♘e4 f6 The pawn chain g7-f6-e5 controls the knight on f3 and the centre very well. When Black has developed his queenside he will even have the better position.

a2) 8. O-O b6 9. ♕e2 ♘bd7 transposes to the line after 8. Qe2.

a3) 8. ♕e2 8... ♘bd7 The knight has several functions on d7. It protects f6 and can replace the other knight. It also protects e5 and thereby prevents White's knight from moving there. As soon as the black bishop vacates c5, the d7-knight can jump there and annoy White's bishop on d3. If Black can get in ...b6 and ...Bb7, he will be well-prepared for the middlegame.

a31) 9. b3 b6 10. ♗b2 ♗b7 11. O-O-O ♖ad8 12. g4 ♕d6 13. ♔b1 ♕f4 ( 13... ♗a3!=/+ ) 14. ♖hg1 ♘d5 15. g5 ♗a3 16. ♗xh7+ ♔xh7 17. ♕d3+ ♔g8 ( 17... ♕f5!=/+ ) 18. ♗xa3 ♘c5 19. ♗xc5 bxc5 20. ♔b2 ♘e7 21. ♕e3 ♕f5 22. ♕e5 ♕h3 23. ♖g3 ♕h5 24. ♖dg1 ♘f5 25. ♖g4 ♗xf3 26. ♘xf3 ♖d5 27. ♕f4 ♘d4 28. ♘xd4 ♖xd4 29. ♕g3 ♖xg4 30. ♕xg4 ♕xh2 31. g6 ♕xf2 32. ♕h3 ♕f6+ 33. ♔a3 fxg6 34. ♖e1 ♕f5 35. ♕c3 ♖c8 36. ♖e5 ♕f6 37. ♕e3 ♖c6 38. ♕e4 ♖a6+ 39. ♔b2 ♖d6 40. ♔a3 ♖a6+ 41. ♔b2 ♖d6 42. ♔a3 1/2-1/2 Shaw,J (2446)-Dizdarevic,E (2475), Khanty-Mansiysk 2010

a32) 9. ♘e4 b6 10. ♘xc5 ♘xc5 ( 10... ♕xc5 11. ♗e3 ♕c7 12. ♗d4 ♗b7 13. O-O-O ♘c5 14. ♗e5 ♘xd3+ 15. ♖xd3 ♕c4 16. ♘d4 ♗e4 17. ♖e3 ♕xa2 18. ♗xf6 ♗g6 19. ♖a3 ♕d5 20. h4 gxf6 21. h5 ♕xd4 22. hxg6 hxg6 23. ♖ah3 f5 24. ♖h4 f4 25. ♕f3 ♖ac8 26. ♖xf4 ♕c5 27. c3 ♔g7 28. ♖hh4 ♕e5 29. g3 ♕e1+ 30. ♔c2 ♖cd8 31. ♖d4 ♕e5 32. ♖hf4 ♕c7 33. ♕e3 e5 34. ♖xd8 ♖xd8 35. ♖e4 ♖d5 36. g4 b5 37. g5 ♕d6 38. f3 a5 39. ♕e2 ♕e6 40. ♕h2 ♕f5 41. ♕g3 ♕d7 42. ♕e1 b4 43. cxb4 ♕a4+ 44. b3 ♕a2+ 45. ♔c3 a4 46. bxa4 ♕a3+ 47. ♔c2 ♕xa4+ 48. ♔c3 ♕a3+ 49. ♔c2 ♖d3 0-1 Kasparov,G (2770)-Anand,V (2650), Reggio Emilia 1992 ) 11. ♗c4 ♕e4=

a33) 9. ♘b3 e5 ( 9... b6 ) 10. ♗c4 ♕c6 11. ♘xc5 ♘xc5=

a34) 9. O-O 9... b6 10. ♘b3 ♗b7 11. ♗f4 ♕h5 12. ♖ad1 ♗e7 13. c3 ♖fd8 14. ♖fe1 ♘c5

b) 7. ♗c4 7... ♕c6 This is a good square for the queen and together with a bishop on b7 she would form a powerful batterie on the diagonal a8-h1.( 7... ♕h5 8. ♕e2 ) 8. O-O ( 8. ♕e2 O-O 9. O-O is another move order.) 8... O-O 9. ♕e2 a6 With the idea to play ...b5 and ...Bb7. The pawn controls b5 and prevents ( 9... ♘bd7 10. ♘b3+/= )

b1) 10. ♗d3 ♘bd7

b11) 11. c3 b5 ( 11... h6 12. ♖d1 ♖e8 13. ♘e4 ♘xe4 14. ♗xe4 ♕c7 15. ♗c2 e5 16. ♘d2 ♘f6 17. ♘e4 ♘xe4 18. ♗xe4 ♗e6 19. ♗e3 ♗xe3 20. ♕xe3 ♖ad8 21. ♕a7 ♗c8 22. ♕e3 ♗e6 23. ♕a7 ♗c8 24. ♕e3 ♗e6 1/2-1/2 Balogh,C (2664)-Le Quang,L (2703), San Luis 2012; 11... b6 ) 12. a4 b4=

b12) 11. a3 b6 ( 11... b5 12. b4 ♗d6 13. c4+/= ) 12. b4 ♗e7 13. ♗b2 ♗b7= 14. ♘b3 ♗d6 15. ♖fd1 ♕c7 16. h3 ♗f4 17. c4 e5 18. ♘fd2 ♖fe8 19. ♘e4 ♘xe4 20. ♗xe4 ♗xe4 21. ♕xe4 ♖ac8 22. ♕e2 a5 23. g3 ♗h6 24. ♗c1 ♗xc1 25. ♖axc1 axb4 26. axb4 e4 27. ♘d4 ♕e5 28. ♘b5 ♖e7 29. ♕e3 h6 30. ♔g2 ♖c6 31. ♖d5 ♕b2 32. ♖cd1 ♘f6 33. ♖d8+ ♔h7 34. ♘d4 ♖xc4 35. ♘f5 ♖e5 36. ♘d6 ♖c3 37. ♕f4 ♖f3 38. ♕d2 ♕xd2 39. ♖xd2 e3 40. fxe3 ♖exe3 41. ♘xf7 ♖xg3+ 42. ♔f1 ♖e7 43. ♖h8+ ♔g6 44. ♘d6 ♖xh3 45. ♖b8 ♖f3+ 46. ♔g2 ♖ee3 47. ♖xb6 ♔h7 48. b5 ♘g4 49. ♖b7 ♖g3+ 50. ♔f1 ♖ef3+ 51. ♔e1 ♖g1+ 52. ♔e2 ♖e3# 0-1 Vovk,A (2564)-Krishna,C (2326), Nagpur 2012

b13) 11. ♘e4 11... ♘xe4 12. ♗xe4 ♕c7

b131) 13. c3 ♘f6 14. ♗c2 b5 15. ♗g5 ♗b7 ( 15... ♘d5 )

b132) 13. ♗g5 h6 14. ♗h4 f5 15. ♗d3 ♘b6=/+

b133) 13. ♗e3 13... ♗xe3 14. ♕xe3 ♘c5 15. ♖fd1 ♘xe4 16. ♕xe4 f6= 17. ♖d2 ♖d8 18. ♖ad1 ♖xd2 19. ♖xd2 ♗d7 20. ♘d4 ♖e8 21. h3 ♕c8 22. c3 ♕c7 23. a3 ♕c8 24. ♔h2 h6 25. ♔g1 ♔f8 26. ♘c2 ♕c7 27. ♘e3 ♗c6 28. ♕d4 ♕f7 29. ♘c4 ♕g6 30. ♕g4 ♕b1+ 31. ♖d1 ♕c2 32. ♖d2 ♕b1+ 33. ♖d1 ♕c2 34. ♖d2 1/2-1/2 Godena,M (2530)-Meier,G (2664), Novi Sad 2009

b2) 10. ♘e5 ♕c7 11. ♘df3 b5 12. ♗d3 ♗b7 13. ♗f4 ♗d6 14. ♗g3 ♘c6

b3) 10. a4

b31) 10... ♕c7 11. ♘e4! ♗e7 12. ♘xf6+ ♗xf6 13. ♖a3 ( 13. ♕e4!+/= ) 13... ♘c6 14. ♕e4 ♘d4 15. ♗d3 ♘xf3+ 16. ♕xf3 ♖d8 17. ♗e4 ♗e5 18. ♖d1 ♖xd1+ 19. ♕xd1 ♗d7 20. h3 ♖c8 1/2-1/2 Ni Hua (2667)-Lysyj,I (2615), Dagomys 2010

b32) 10... b6!=

b4) 10. ♘b3 ♗d6

b41) 11. ♗d3 ♘bd7 ( 11... b6 )

b42) 11. ♗g5 11... ♘bd7

b421) 12. ♘bd4 ♕c7 13. c3 b6 ( 13... b5 ) 14. ♖ad1 ♗b7 15. ♗b3 ♖fe8 16. ♗c2 ♖ac8 17. ♗h4 b5=/+ 18. ♗b1 g6 19. ♗g3 e5 20. ♘c2 ♘d5 21. ♘e3 ♘7f6 22. ♘xd5 ♘xd5 23. ♗e4 ♘f4 24. ♗xf4 exf4 25. ♕d2 ♗xe4 26. ♕xd6 ♗xf3 27. gxf3 ♖e2 28. ♕xa6 ♖xb2 29. ♖b1 ♖xb1 30. ♖xb1 ♕xc3 31. ♔g2 ♖d8 32. ♕xb5 ♖d2 33. ♕b8+ ♔g7 34. ♕xf4 ♖xa2 35. ♖b7 ♕f6 36. ♕xf6+ ♔xf6 1/2-1/2 Balogh,C (2664)-Meier,G (2646), San Luis 2012

b422) 12. ♖ad1 12... ♕c7 13. ♖fe1 ♖e8! ( 13... b5? 14. ♗xe6 ♖e8 15. ♕d2+/= ) 14. ♗d3 b5 15. ♘bd2 ♗b7=

b5) 10. a3 10... b6 11. b4 ( 11. ♗d3 ♗b7 ; 11. ♘b3 ♗d6 12. ♗g5 ♘bd7 ) 11... ♗d6 ( 11... ♗e7 12. ♘e5 ♕c7 13. ♗b2+/= ♘c6 14. f4 a5 15. f5 axb4 16. ♘xc6 ♕xc6 17. axb4 ♖xa1 18. ♗xa1 ♗xb4 19. ♗xf6 gxf6 20. ♘e4 ♗e7 21. ♔h1 ♔h8 22. ♗d3 ♖g8 23. fxe6 ♕xe6 1/2-1/2 Oleksienko,M (2535)-Meier,G (2648), Dresden 2012)

b51) 12. ♗b2 ♗b7 13. ♗d3 ( 13. ♖fe1 ♘bd7 ; 13. ♖ad1 ♘bd7 ) 13... ♘bd7 14. ♖fe1 ♖fd8 15. ♖ad1 h6 16. h3 ♗f8= ( 16... ♗e7 )

b52) 12. ♗d3 12... ♗b7 13. ♘c4 ( 13. ♗b2 Das ist Zugumstellung zu 12. Lb2.) 13... ♗e7 14. ♘ce5 ♕c7 15. ♗b2 ( 15. ♗f4 ♗d6 16. ♗g3 ♘c6= ) 15... ♘bd7 ( 15... ♘c6 ) 16. ♖ad1 ♘xe5 ( 16... a5 17. ♘xd7 ♘xd7 18. ♗xh7+ ♔xh7 19. ♕d3+ ♔g8 20. ♕xd7 ♖fc8 21. ♗e5 ♕xd7 22. ♖xd7 ♗xf3 23. ♖xe7 ♗d5= ) 17. ♘xe5 a5 18. b5 ♖ac8=

5... cxd4 6. ♗c4 Black has several options at this point. The ideal square for the queen is c7. The most frequent reply is 6...Qd6. Even thoughif 6...Qd8 is played sometimes, I cannot recommend it.

6... ♕d7 very rare. There are slight differences between this move and 6...Qd6. The main difference is that the queen cannot go to b6 now, which is less relevant. The advantage is that the bishop on f8 is not blocked and it has more than just the e7-square available to develop top.

7. O-O

7. ♕e2 ♘c6 8. ♘b3 ♘f6 9. ♗d2 ( 9. ♗g5 ♗b4+ This is the reason why 9.Bd2 is necessary.)) 9... a6! 10. O-O-O ( 10. O-O ) 10... b5 11. ♗d3 ♗b7 Black is better because White's pieces are coordinated badly. Also, White has problems to regain his pawn on d4.

7... ♘c6 8. ♘b3

8. ♗b5 ♘f6 9. ♘e5 ♕d5 Black has a good position with an extra pawn which White cannot regain easily. 10. ♘xc6 bxc6 11. ♗c4 ♕c5=

8... ♘f6 9. ♘bxd4

9. ♗b5 ♗d6 10. ♘bxd4 a6 11. ♗xc6 ( 11. ♘xc6 axb5 ) 11... bxc6 12. ♕e2 O-O 13. ♗g5 c5 14. ♘b3 ♗b7=

9. ♗f4 ♗d6 If the dark-squared bishops are traded, it is easier for Black to equalize. 10. ♗xd6 ♕xd6 As soon as Black develops his c8-bishop, he will have no problems. 11. ♘bxd4 ♘xd4 ( 11... O-O= ) 12. ♕xd4 ♕xd4 13. ♘xd4 ♗d7 14. ♖fd1 ♖c8 15. ♗b3 ♔e7 16. c3 ♖c5 17. ♖d2 ♖b8 1/2-1/2 Movsesian,S (2723)-Vallejo Pons,F (2697), Reggio Emilia 2011

9. ♕e2 a6 10. a4 ♕c7= 11. ♗g5 ♗e7 12. ♘bxd4 ♘xd4 13. ♘xd4 O-O 14. ♖fe1 ♗d7 15. ♗b3 ♘d5 16. ♗xe7 ♘xe7 17. ♖ad1 ♖ad8 18. ♕h5 ♘c6 19. c3 h6 20. ♗c2 ♘xd4 21. ♖xd4 ♗c6 22. ♖g4 ♔h8 23. ♖e3 ♖d5 24. ♕h3 ♖fd8 25. ♖e1 ♖d2 26. ♗b1 ♕e5 27. ♖f1 ♖d1 28. g3 ♕e2 29. ♖h4 ♖xf1+ 0-1 Jimenez Fraga,P (2446)-Oms Pallisse,J (2461), Sabadell 2012

9... ♘xd4 10. ♘xd4

10. ♕xd4 ♕xd4 11. ♘xd4 ♗d7 This endgame is easy to play with Black. After ...Rc8 und ...Bc5 all his pieces are well-developed. 12. ♗f4 ( 12. ♖d1 ♖c8 ) 12... ♖c8 13. ♗e2 ( 13. ♗d3 ♗c5 ; 13. ♗b3 ♗c5 14. ♖ad1 O-O ) 13... ♗c5 14. ♘b3 ♗b6 15. c3 ( 15. c4 O-O 16. ♖ac1 ♗c6 17. c5 ♗c7= ) 15... O-O=

10... a6 11. ♖e1

11. ♗f4 b5 12. ♗b3 ( 12. ♗e2 ♗b7 ) 12... ♗c5 ( 12... ♗b7 13. c3 ♗e7 14. ♕e2 O-O 15. ♖ad1 ♗d5 16. ♗e5 ♖fe8 17. ♖d3 ♕b7 18. ♗xd5 ♘xd5 19. ♕f3+/= ♖ad8 20. ♖fd1 ♗f8 21. h3 ♕c8 22. ♕g4 ♘e7 23. ♘f3 ♖xd3 24. ♖xd3 ♘d5 25. ♕e4 f6 26. ♗g3 ♕c4 27. ♕xc4 bxc4 28. ♖d2 ♔f7 29. ♘e1 ♗c5 30. ♔f1 ♖d8 31. ♔e2 e5 32. ♖c2 ♖c8 33. ♘f3 ♔e6 34. h4 ♗a7 35. ♔d1 ♘e7 36. ♖e2 ♖d8+ 37. ♔c2 ♘f5 38. ♘d2 ♘xg3 39. fxg3 ♔f5 40. ♘xc4 ♔g4 41. ♘xe5+ fxe5 42. ♖xe5 h6 43. ♖e7 ♗f2 44. ♖xg7+ ♔h5 45. b4 ♗e1 46. g4+ ♔xh4 47. ♖g6 ♖d2+ 48. ♔b3 ♖d3 49. ♖xh6+ ♔xg4 50. ♖c6 ♔f5 51. a4 ♖g3 52. a5 ♔e5 53. ♖xa6 ♗xc3 54. ♔a4 1/2-1/ 2 Womacka,M (2455)-Fridman,D (2660), La Caleta 2012 ) 13. ♗e5 O-O 14. c3 ♗b7

a) Black does not need to be afraid about weakening his kingside. 15. ♗xf6 gxf6 16. ♕g4+ ♔h8 17. ♕f4 ♕e7 18. ♗c2 ♗d6 ( 18... ♖g8 ) 19. ♕h6 f5 20. ♗xf5 exf5 21. ♘xf5 ♖g8 22. g3 ♖g6 23. ♕xg6 hxg6 24. ♘xe7 ♗xe7=

b) 15. ♕e2 15... ♕e7 16. ♖ad1 ♖fd8 17. ♖d3 ♗d6 ( 17... b4 ) 18. ♖fd1 ♗xe5 19. ♕xe5 ♖d7=

11. c3 ♕c7 ( 11... b5 )

a) 12. ♗b3 ♗d6 13. h3 O-O 14. ♖e1 ( 14. ♗g5 ♘e4 15. ♗e3 b6 16. ♗c2 ♗b7= ) 14... e5⁉= ( 14... h6 )

b) 12. ♗d3 ♗d6 13. h3 h6 14. ♕f3 ♗e5 15. ♖e1 O-O 16. ♗e3 ( 16. ♕e3 ♗d6= ) 16... ♗d7 17. ♖ad1 ♖ad8 18. ♗c2 ♖fe8 19. ♖d2 ♗c8=

c) 12. ♕e2 12... ♗d6

c1) 13. ♗g5 ♗xh2+ 14. ♔h1 ♗f4 15. ♗xe6 ( 15. ♗xf6 gxf6 16. ♖ad1 ♔f8= ) 15... fxe6 16. ♗xf6 gxf6 17. ♘xe6 ♗xe6 18. ♕xe6+ ♔f8 19. ♕xf6+ ♔g8=

c2) 13. ♘f5 ♗xh2+ 14. ♔h1 ♗f4 15. ♘xg7+ ♔f8 16. ♕f3 e5 17. ♗xf4 exf4 18. ♘h5 ♘xh5 19. ♕xh5 ♕xc4=/+

c3) 13. h3 13... O-O Black is well-developed and even willing to play ...e5. Nb5 is not a threat as the square b5 is controlled by the pawn on a6. 14. ♗g5 ( 14. ♗b3 h6 15. ♕f3 e5 16. ♘f5 e4 17. ♘xh6+ ♔h8! 18. ♕e3 gxh6 19. ♕xh6+ ♘h7 20. ♗e3 ♗e5=/+ ; 14. ♗d3 h6 ) 14... ♘e4 15. ♗e3 b5 16. ♗d3 ♘c5 17. ♗c2 ♗b7

11. b3 is not really dangerous. 11... b5

a) 12. ♗d3 e5 ( 12... ♗b7 )

b) 12. ♗e2 12... ♗b7 13. ♗b2 ♖d8=

11. a4 ♗d6 12. ♕e2 O-O 13. ♗g5 ♗xh2+ 14. ♔xh2 ♕xd4 15. c3 ♕e4=

11... ♗c5 12. c3

12. ♗e3 ♕c7 13. ♗b3 O-O 14. c3 e5=

12. ♘b3 ♕xd1 13. ♖xd1 ♗b6= with ...Bd7 to follow. The endgame is very comfortable for Black.

12... b5 13. ♗b3

13. ♗xe6 fxe6 14. ♖xe6+ ( 14. ♘xe6 ♕xd1 ) 14... ♔f8 15. ♖xf6+ gxf6 16. ♗h6+ ( 16. ♕f3 ♔g7 ) 16... ♔g8 17. ♕h5 ♗xd4 18. cxd4 ♕e6=/+

13... ♗b7 14. ♗g5

14. ♗f4

a) 14... ♗xd4 15. cxd4

a1) 15... ♕c6 16. d5 ( 16. f3 ) 16... ♘xd5 17. ♖c1 ♕d7 18. ♗e5 f6 19. ♗g3 ♖d8 ( 19... O-O 20. ♖c7 ) 20. ♕h5+=/∞

a2) 15... O-O 16. ♗e5 ♕c6 17. d5! exd5 ( 17... ♘xd5 18. ♖c1 ) 18. ♖c1 ♕b6 19. ♗d4 ♕d8 20. ♖c3

b) 14... O-O 15. ♗e5 ♕e7 A very dynamic position which equal chances has arisen. 16. ♕d3 ( 16. ♖e3 ♖fd8 17. ♖g3 ♗d6 ) 16... ♖fd8 17. ♕h3 ( 17. ♕g3 ♘h5 18. ♕g4 ♘f6 19. ♕h4 ♘d7 ) 17... b4 18. ♗c2 bxc3 19. bxc3 h6 20. ♖e3 ♗d6

14. ♗xe6? fxe6

14... ♗xd4!

14... ♘d5 15. ♕g4! O-O 16. ♖ad1 ♖fe8 17. ♗xd5 ♗xd5 18. ♗f6 ♗f8 19. ♖d3+/=

15. cxd4

15. ♕xd4 ♕xd4 16. cxd4 O-O Without the queens on the board the isolani becomes a weakness for White.

15... ♕c6! Provokes a weakening White's kingside.

15... ♘d5 16. ♕g4! O-O 17. ♖ac1 ♖fc8 18. ♗h6 f5 19. ♕g3 ♖xc1 20. ♖xc1 ♖c8 21. ♖xc8+ ♗xc8 22. ♗xd5 exd5 23. ♗f4+/=

16. f3 Now White has difficulties transferring his queen to the kingside.

16. d5 ♘xd5 17. ♕g4 h5 18. ♕g3 h4 19. ♕h3 ♔f8

16... O-O An unclear position has arisen.

17. ♕d3

17. ♗xf6 gxf6 The king's position is somewhat weakened, but White's pieces are so far away that White can hardly get a kingside attack. 18. ♖e4 ♔h8

17. ♖c1 ♕b6 18. ♕d3 ♖ac8

17... ♖ac8! An important move to prevent Bc2 temporarily.

18. ♖ac1

18. ♗xf6 gxf6 19. ♖e4 ♔h8 20. ♖h4 f5 21. ♕e3 ♖g8=

18... ♕b6 19. ♗c2

19. ♖xc8 ♖xc8 20. ♗c2 ♕c6 21. ♖c1 ♕d5 ( 21... ♕c4 ) 22. ♗xf6 gxf6 23. ♕xh7+ ♔f8=

19... ♖fd8! 20. ♗xf6

20. ♖ed1 ♖c4

20... gxf6 21. ♕xh7+ ♔f8