Best Chess Openings: French Defense

Best Chess Openings: The French Defense

French Defense, considered to be one of the top best chess openings, was so named after a match by correspondence between London and Paris in 1834. The opening engages the moves 1. e4 e6. By the move e6, Black seems to block activity for its King’s Bishop, and White can plan for a better chess strategy in the center and concentrate on the Black’s kingside. However, Black in the process of movements can gain counterattacking possibilities on the queenside.

Known for its solidity and resilience, French Defense lets White expand its claim on the center while letting Black have counterattacking possibilities. Initial exchanges such as in the exchange variation of 3.exd5 exd5 are done with the hope of early draw.

Mostly the game continues with 2.d4 d5 with the variations continuing as follows.

Classical Variation: White plays 3.Nc3, and Black responds with a 3…Nf6 while developing the knight.

Winawer’s Variation: While White plays the same move 3.Nc3, as in the Classical approach, Black plays 3…Bb4 thus pinning White’s Knight at c3 and threatening to capture it for exchange of Bishop.

Tarrasch Variation: In order to avoid threat to and possible loss of the Knight in exchange to the Black’s Bishop, White places its Knight in 3.Nd2 even though it blocks its Bishop at c1. Tarrasch Variation is named after Siegbert Tarrasch.

As an alternative, White also has the option to exchange the e-pawn.

Advance Variation: With the White’s move of 3.e5, it locks in the Black bishop at c8 securing an advantage in space. However, Black can counterplay with 3…c5 with subsequent moves of …Nc6 and …Qb6 causing pressure at d4. Black can also play an …f6 to attack the pawn chain. This chess strategy is said to be the typical French strategy.

Exchange Variation: White’s decision to exchange 3.exd5 exd5 is to avoid possible closed structure and to make the position simpler for other chess strategy.

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