Saturday, April 26, 2008

My French Paradox

As White I like open games most. My performance of 54 percent after 1. e4 e5 reflects this feeling. And now the paradox: I hate to play against the French defense and I prefer Sicilian, irrespective of my quite good records of 50 percent against the French and the pathetic 38 percent against the Sicilian.

This week, I have lost a French game, and I think it is quite illustrative of why I hate this opening. But dealing with this loss, I discovered a much better way of playing it. In fact, it is the only way that fits my idea of how it should be played.

Here is the position where I began to feel uncomfortable. Black did not move Bb4 as I had expected:

White to move.

I played 4. e5 although I knew what to expect, because this always results in a very cramped position in the center, a pawn mass that is sieged by black Knights and defended by white Knights. I already knew that such an ugly move as Ne2, blocking the Bishop, and c3 is considered as good by the theory.

White to move.

And here we are. I hated this position and began to blunder, and eventually lost the game.

Instead, the move 4. Bg5 is much faster because Black is forced to counter the attack on the pinned Knight, thus the attack on the white pawn center is delayed. When Black unpins the Knight with Be7, he will not preserve his bishop pair and will be left with his bad Bishop c8. When he attacks with h6, he also loses tempo for his counter attack, and offering an attack mark for White's planned pawn assault.

White to move.

And this is a possible outcome after the stronger continuation Bishop pins Knight, Bishop unpins Knight, pawn attacks Knight, Knight withdraws, trade of dark-squared Bishops. Now, the attack h2-h4-h5-h6 is an excellent plan, because castling king-side is very dangerous for Black and if he delays castling and then castles queen-side, castles will be same side which is very safe for White.

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At 4:39 AM, OpenID tcoem said...

Maybe you should start playing the KIA vs the French.


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