Friday, February 08, 2008

The Interesting French Exchange IV

Today we're going back to my current favourite topic - the Exchange Variation of the French Defence and the fact that it's not necessarily an unrelenting diet of dullsville.

Alekhine, quoted by CJS Purdy in Action Chess,
"... as a matter of fact, Black will at least not have a fewer opportunities for complicating, if he wants to do so, than in most of the other variations of the French."

Justin, from the comments to the most recent post in this series,
"Trouble is, when people tell you about the French Exchange it's always Gurevich-Short [here] and Tal-Korchnoi..." [TIFE III]

To be honest, my opinion is probably closer to EJH than AA. In truth it's not always easy to generate an interesting game in this line and if we were to take Alekhine at his word we'd find as many famous Black wins in the Exchange as we do in the Winawer ... and that's just not the case. It's not all opposite side castling and hacking away (TIFE II) as I acknowledged in TIFE I.

I certainly wouldn't try to claim that Black wins by force here, but then equally, neither is it necessary that s/he need give up the game for dead on move three. I suppose my view would be best summed up by a quote from Nick De Firmian from Batsford's Modern Chess Openings,

“The view that it is a drawing line is only partially correct, as many decisive games occur when one of the players is in a fighting mood.”

Anyhoo, here a couple of more games from Victor Korchnoi who tended to be in a fighting mood whether he was faced with the exchange variation or otherwise.

Tatai-Korchnoi, as mentioned by Mike G. in the comments to TIFE I, is another commonly cited example of Black's opportunities after 3. exd5. It's not typical of the line but definitely it's inspiration for what can happen if you give it a go.

Kovacs-Korchnoi is also fun for Black, although sadly we can't rely on too many players of the White pieces coming up with Kovacs' queen manouevre on move 11.

Next time, I might finally get around to answering Angus' charge that 3. exd5 is a 'shameful' move to play.

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