Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Interesting French Exchange

The Most Boring S&BCC Blog Post Ever?

Three short draws in the Exchange French ...

Hort-Petrosian, Hastings 1977/78
1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. exd5 exd5, 4. Bd3 Bd6, 5. c3 c6, 6. Ne2 Ne7, 7. Bf4 O-O, 8. O-O Bf5, 9. Bxd6 Qxd6, 10. Ng3 Bxd3, 11. Qxd3 Nd7, 12. Nd2 1/2 - 1/2

Seidman - R. Byrne, USA Ch. 1959
1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. exd5 exd5, 4. Bd3 Nc6, 5. c3 Bd6, 6. Ne2 Qh4, 7. Na3 a6, 8. Qd2 Nge7, 9. Nc2 Bf5, 10. Bxf5 Nxf5, 11. Qg5 1/2-1/2

V. Malisauskas (2530) - Gausel. E (2485), Norway 1992
1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. exd5 exd5, 4. Nf3 Bg4, 5. Be2 Bd6, 6. c3 c6, 7. O-O Ne7, 8. Re1 O-O, 9. Ne5 Bxe2, 10. Qxe2 Ng6, 11. Nxg6 hxg6, 12. Nd2 Nd7, 13. Nf3 Re8, 14. Qxe8+ Qxe8, 15. Rxe8+ Rxe8, 16. Bd2 Nf6, 17. Re1 Rxe1+, 18. Nxe1 1/2-1/2

You can play through these games below if you think you can stand the excitement.

It's not difficult to see why the French Exchange has a reputation for extreme dullness when it's so easy to find examples like these (I got them from MCO XIV, an Andy Martin tape from Basman's Audio Chess series, and a quick search of ChessBase respectively).

Still, over the next little while I'm going to have a go at saving the variation's honour. I've started with these games just to show I'm not totally deranged and I do understand that games in this line can easily have little content - if that's what both players want.

CJS Purdy once wrote,

"Many French Defence players fear the Exchange Variant because it has the reputation of being terribly drawish. I need not waste space on that idea, and you'll see why later on."

Well, I think idea is worth spending some time on. Unfortunately, the interesting bit starts next time.


Anonymous said...

Most French Exchange's I have (as black)involve me castling queenside and attacking his king on the kingside whilst he attacks mine. This is far from boring.

Anonymous said...


I take it you'll be showing some interesting lines for Black (and not White). It seems to me that 3 ed is a shameful move for White to play.


Anonymous said...

There's no shame in playing any move imho. If you believe that maximises your chances of getting a result then you are entitled to play it. The same in football, if you feel your best chance to get a result is to play for a 0-0 then thats fine... if your opponent is good enough he will win anyway, but you are setting him the greatest test you can, one of which you are entitled to do. In fact he may also push to hard and give you winning chances.In chess this is even more true as you do not have the side issue of paying spectators wanting entertainment (though of course Brian Clough said that the hardened fan was interested in the best result for their side, not entertainment). Same with adjournments- at least a couple of Wood Green players were trying to bully us (good natured but still bullying) into quickplay finishes last night. We are entitled under to rules to make a decision that maximises our chances, and generally for the lower rated player that means adjournments. I have seen some cases of higher rateds setting the clock to quickplay settings and so their opponents had to "request" slowplay.

Anonymous said...

I play the French as black and although I used to get reasonable results with the Exchange variation it seems to be all draws recently including two against the same player (graded a bit higher than me) and in one of those I did castle queenside and really went for it, but it ended up equal. This is one of those openings where if white sits on the position, it can be difficult to make progress (in my opinion).

Perhaps I should look up that game (by Korchnoi?) in the 2nd edition of Watson again to remember how to spice it up and I'm sure Ulhmann has some decent wins in his book, too.

Mike G.

Jonathan B said...

I was going to get to opposite side-castling and mutual attacks in four or five posts time but since you mention it I'll address that next.

I was going to deal with this point next time but it will now become the third point.

Tal-Korcnoi, 1955 is the game you refer to I believe. It will indeed by making an appearance in this series... and I'll be referring to Uhlmann's games too.

Anonymous said...

The game I was thinking of is Tatai-Korchnoi (1978). I couldn't find it in Watson, but it's certainly in a couple of other opening books I've got apart from the one I just found it in (French Defense 2 by Minev).

Mike G.

Jonathan B said...

Oh yes, the one where Korchnoi plays an early ... c5 I think and just stomps all over his opponent.

There's another Korchnoi game where he wins quickly against the exchange, this one when his opponent plays an early Qf3.

Good old Victor shows the way ...

Anonymous said...

On the playchess server the Exchange variation is played against me more than any other variation.

The ranking is probably as follows:
1) Exchange
2) 2Nc3
3) Advance
4) Tarrasch


ejh said...

When I used to play online years ago I think 2.Bc4 was the most favoured moved against the Sicilian.

john cox said...

I suspect very few French players fear the Exchange. When I played it I had a huge score against the Exchange and if I could start every Black game from the position after exd5 I'd be delighted.

NON-French players tend to fear it, not for any good reason, of course. The two groups are self-selecting.

Anonymous said...

French players do fear the exchange. I gave up playing the french because I was so sick of everyone playing the exchange against me, and never being able to beat guys graded 20-30 ECF points below me. I wanted the poisoned pawn winawer, but no bugger ever played Nc3 against me in the 5 years I was playing the french. Giving up the french in turn screwed my repertoire, because I was using an ...e6 move order to get into the dutch. It's been about 7 years now since I quit the french, and I still haven't figured out what I'm going to play against 1. d4.