Monday, February 19, 2007

Beating The French

It's not news that the success and failure of particular chess openings varies widely according to the pool of players competing - I'm sure the King's Gambit is still ripping up junior tournaments, but I don't expect to see one in Linares this year. There, however, yesterday did see Morozevich draw as black against Leko (scroll down) in the French Defence - also a somewhat rare visitor to the top level, and indeed Moro looked far worse out of the opening. Yet on correspondence site Red Hot Pawn, the consensus seems to be everyone's pretty much afraid of the French, and not only that, but also that the Classical, Kasparov-endorsed 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 offers too many chances to the black player for white to even consider.

Well, as far as I can tell, things have been very different to this in the London League this year - I've seen Streatham & Brixton Chess Club players do nothing but beat the French whenever it's been played against them. So here are two such games, from our match earlier in the season versus Drunken Knights. Both are exciting clashes, tackling the French head-on.


Finally, via a Smith-Morra, Robin also faced a typical French pawn structure in our recent match versus Kings Head, albeit with a pair of knights exchanged. It ended up another fine, sacrificial win for white, attacking through the extra space on the kingside.


What was it Fischer said about 1.e4 again?

(Note. In the first game, black resigned after 49. Be6. I'm not sure why the programme is adding in a bit of extra nonsense.)

21 comments:

ejh said...

Dunno what Black was playing at with 8...d5 in Robin's game. You've got to play ...d6 in those structures because otherwise you're asking to be wiped out on the kingside.

Tom Chivers said...

There are some side lines in the 1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 Sicilian where you play d5 - after Bc4 Nb6 typically, so not with the pawn on c3. (The open c-file and two knights on the queenside provide black with some play, to compensate for cramped kingside. I drew v Michael Prizant in such a line earlier this year in fact.)

Perhaps Robin's move order spooked black into misremembering these?!

Jonathan B said...

Hi Tom,

Is this revenge for me calling the Najdorf rubbish in another thread?????

Jonathan B said...

BTW:
I have a 100% score defending the Black side of the French Defence this season. Admittedly that's based on a rather small sample (1 game).

Jonathan B said...

Although if truth be told, yesterday Malcolm Pein's Sunday Telegraph chess column just had two white wins against the French, and today's has as another one :-(

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/portal/main.jhtml;jsessionid=Z3BQMLG0FOSKLQFIQMFCFGGAVCBQYIV0?&_DARGS=/core/lowerHeaderBarWideFrag.jhtml.1

Tom Chivers said...

Revenge, moi . . . ?

Perhaps next time we meet, we should have a pair of games: one where you defend the French, one where I defend the Najdorf....

Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

I guess it all comes down to who's the most imaginative when playing the French, because it can definitely be one tough cookie to beat. Wolfgang Uhlmann doesn't really need an introduction, right?

Tom Chivers said...

Well, quite Edwin. Nearly every mainline of nearly every opening is approximately equal, and in OTB chess what will then count most of the time is who is better.

I didn't mean to imply that after I write '1. e4 e6' on my scoresheets, I straightaway add 1-0 in the results box, btw. I just thought it was interesting that there are such differing results from the French, dependent on context.

Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

Well, i like the French in a sense that creativity plays a big part in it. Because in my opinion, the lack of creativity in other openings (because they have been totally played out) is what's killing this game.

Anonymous said...

I can add 5 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses as black in the French to your sample this season.
(Andrew)

Anonymous said...

Anyone who lets Robin get up to his usual tricks is asking for it. When I played him, I put a stop to such things by playing the London System. His brain clearly was about to go into meltdown with boredom, so he gave me a pawn just to liven things up.
(Andrew)

Tom Chivers said...

Oh, I think there's life left in chess for the time-being Edwin - enough for me anyhow :)

Ah, Andrew. But you were playing for us. So that's not a part of the sample at all!

The London System sounds - practical. I imagine it's harder to avoid being a pawn up with black, though.

Jonathan B said...

Malcolm Pein has finally taken a breather from ripping apart my opening repetoire.

Today's column has Ivanchuck chopping up Topalov's Najdorf...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/02/21/result070221.xml


See, it's rubbish. Rubbish I tells yer. Absolute trash.


Btw: Tom. I'd be happy to accept your challenge to a French/Najdorf theme match. [Grandiose thought approaching] It'll be a bit like the Steinitz - Chigorin Evans/Two Knights match [Grandiose thought over].

As to the result of the match ... will you accept some form of handicapping system that will control for the fact you are rated 20+ points higher than me on the current list?

Tom Chivers said...

The Ivanchuk-Topalov game was very interesting - I thought black had equalized equally whilst watching it, but I guess not.

What kind of penalty did you have in mind - one on the clock?! A blindfold!?

Jonathan B said...

I hadn't really thought about it but perhaps something.

I just did a quick calculation and I reckon if we played, say, a four game match and I lost 3-1 my performance rating would be roughly equal to my current grade.

Tom Chivers said...

Good idea. You'll probably win 4-0 now or something!

Jonathan B said...

Well yes, I like THAT handicap system - whatever the actual result of the game I get a point :-)

Perhaps, on reflection, a small time advantage would be better, or maybe comparing grading performance with published grade...

Tom Chivers said...

I would probably prefer a time-based handicap.

On the other hand, how about this? A BEER based handicap. If you win a game, you have a pint straight after. A draw - half a pint each! And as I'm graded 30 or so points higher than you - I have to have a pint before we even start.

Oh - spectators have to buy :)

Jonathan B said...

meanwhile over on the telegraph website, Malcolm Pein chops up the Najdorf again ....

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/02/22/result070222.xml


Maybe he's got something against both of us Tom?

Tom Chivers said...

Perhaps both openings are forced losses!?

cbm said...

Dude great!