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French, Winawer, Advance (C19)
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e5 c5 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 Ne7

Number of games in database: 1084
Years covered: 1931 to 2018
Overall record:
   White wins 38.7%
   Black wins 28.7%
   Draws 32.7%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
PRACTITIONERS
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
John Nunn  23 games
Nick DeFirmian  21 games
Alexey Suetin  18 games
Wolfgang Uhlmann  40 games
Viktor Korchnoi  25 games
Gerald Hertneck  23 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Fischer vs Larsen, 1971
Kavalek vs E Formanek, 1970
B Melvin vs R Cunningham, 1994
Tolush vs Botvinnik, 1945
Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1944
Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1941
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 page 1 of 44; games 1-25 of 1,084  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. F Bohatirchuk vs Alatortsev 1-0281931USSR ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
2. F Bohatirchuk vs P Dubinin  ½-½321934USSR Championship 1934/35C19 French, Winawer, Advance
3. Milner-Barry vs Botvinnik 0-1541935Hastings 1934/35C19 French, Winawer, Advance
4. Tylor vs Flohr 1-0961936NottinghamC19 French, Winawer, Advance
5. I Rabinovich vs Botvinnik 0-1671939USSR ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
6. S Belavenets vs Botvinnik  ½-½801939USSR ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
7. I Pogrebissky vs Botvinnik 0-1361939USSR ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
8. Bondarevsky vs Levenfish  ½-½201940USSR ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
9. Smyslov vs Levenfish  ½-½401940USSR ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
10. Keres vs Lilienthal  ½-½411940USSR ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
11. Smyslov vs Botvinnik 0-1421941USSR Absolute ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
12. Keres vs Boleslavsky ½-½311941USSR Absolute ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
13. Bondarevsky vs Boleslavsky 1-0771941USSR Absolute ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
14. Keres vs Boleslavsky  ½-½631941USSR Absolute ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
15. Smyslov vs Boleslavsky 1-0411941USSR Absolute ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
16. Pachman vs V Stulik  1-0381943ZlinC19 French, Winawer, Advance
17. Tolush vs Botvinnik 0-1421943Moscow ch (Botvinnik)C19 French, Winawer, Advance
18. Kan vs Botvinnik  ½-½221943SverdlovskC19 French, Winawer, Advance
19. Smyslov vs Botvinnik  ½-½661943SverdlovskC19 French, Winawer, Advance
20. Ragozin vs Botvinnik 0-1541944Training GameC19 French, Winawer, Advance
21. Smyslov vs Botvinnik 0-1401944USSR ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
22. Lilienthal vs Ragozin 0-1301944USSR ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
23. Bronstein vs V Saigin  1-0381945Ch URS (1/2 final)C19 French, Winawer, Advance
24. M Czerniak vs E Dodero  ½-½641945QuilmesC19 French, Winawer, Advance
25. N Divinsky vs A Helman 1-0371945CAN-chC19 French, Winawer, Advance
 page 1 of 44; games 1-25 of 1,084  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-10-04  benderules: what about 7.Qg4 Qc7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Ne2?
Oct-30-04  themindset: that falls under this category, although everyone seems to be discussing it under c18 for some reason.
Oct-07-05  vampiero: thats the poison pawn variation of the French, one of Botvinnik's favorites i believe. Petrosian used to once in a whiele too but i heard that since then white has a huge amount of wins. Black has like 1 or so wins in the last 30 years
Oct-07-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: vampiero, according to the database, games 601-620 show a result of +6 -5 =9 for White. Quite a good result for Black in any defense, but I'm surprised by the large number of draws.
Oct-07-05  vampiero: if you check Kasparovs book, Botvinniks favorite went 1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Bb4
4. e5 c5
5. a3 Bxc3+
6. bxc3 Qc7
7. Qg4 f5
8. Qg3 Ne7
9. Qxg7 Rg8
10. Qxh7 cxd4

and it has 1 out of 9 wins for Black

Oct-08-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: sorry about the mixup, vampiero, I didn't realize which French Poison Pawn Variation you were discussing. This problem doesn't arise in the Sicillian!

I never much liked either one--I preferred 6...Qc7 and 7...f6. Not the best line, but it suited me.

Nov-13-05  ksadler: I just played in a simul (50minutes + 10 second/move) against Boris Alterman on ICC. Normally in simuls on ICC, GMs don't play any sort of theory. Mr. Alterman played some theory and quickly wiped me off the board. I forgot my rule that not to play your tournament openings against players significantly stronger than you, causing you to lose confidence. Here is the game:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Qc7 7. Nf3 Ne7 8. a4 O-O

No one ever plays the Nf3/a4 lines against me, so I didn't know what to play. The move that I played loses very quickly. At this point, I was thinking "Why didn't I play Alekhine's Defense (B02) ". Now I know that .. b6 has to be played to get rid of the Bd3. Castling into his attack is to White's advantage.

9. Bd3

And all of a sudden I am having flashes of Oll vs Ulibin, 1989

9. .. Ng6

I couldn't think of another alternative that didn't end in quick checkmate. I should have just played 9. .. Nf5 and had a positional nightmare for the rest of the game.

10. h4!

I decided at this point that I would have to sacrifice to prevent checkmate. Unfortunately it didn't work.

10. .. cxd4 11. cxd4 Nc6 12. h5 Ngxe5

Two pawns for a piece.

13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Bb2

Avoiding my trap 14. Nxe5?? Qxe5+ 15. Qe2/Be2 Qxh8 winning the rook. The rest of the game is a GM going against a weak defender.

14. .. Qa5+ 15. Kf1 Nxf3 16. Qxf3 f6 17. h6 g6 18. Bxg6 hxg6 19. h7+ 1-0

Feb-09-06  Fan of Leko: <ksadler, I forgot my rule that not to play your tournament openings against players significantly stronger than you, causing you to lose confidence.> You are not making sense. The best way to learn an opening is to play it against better players (or computers- but they really kill your confidence). The weaker players you can usually beat even with inferior play so you haven't learned anything.

Yes, you did castle too early. Better to play moves like Nbc6, Qa5 and Bd7, keeping both options open. With the center blocked there is no urgency to castle.

Feb-12-06  ksadler: <Fan of Leko> I'm just talking about a week before a tournament (which is what happened at that time). I play all my openings against computers, as that is how I find that I learn the typical positions. I see your point, but I just found that this game busted my confidence in the French (although I would have gotten slaughtered no matter what I would have played).
Feb-12-06  euripides: <Ksadler>
Two old but quite instructive games in this line are Hartston vs Portisch, 1974 and Hartston vs Keene, 1970 (including Keene's notes).

In both of these Black waits for White to castle before he does, making h4 less effective.

Mar-21-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I used to play 7 Qg4 0-0 as Black, which I understand is very fashionable nowadays. Nonetheless, I have gotten killed after 8 Bd3 c4 9 Bh6 Ng6 10 Bxg6 fg 11 Be3.


click for larger view

Has anyone had happier experiences with this line? Is 8...c4 just a bad move? It's certainly very tempting.

Mar-28-06  Karpyan: Korchnoi has an amazing +18 =6 -1 with Black in the database with this line
Aug-02-06  NateDawg: Black cannot afford to play placidly in the lines with 7.♕g4 0-0. Here is an example of the lethal attack White can get:

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. ♘c3 ♗b4
4. e5 c5
5. a3 ♗xc3+
6. bxc3 ♘e7
7. ♕g4 0-0
8. ♗d3 ♕a5
9. ♗d2 ♘bc6
10. ♘f3 ♗d7?


click for larger view

10...♘g6 or 10...f5 was needed to block off the White bishop at d3.

11. ♗xh7+! ♔xh7
12. ♕h5+ ♔g8
13. ♘g5 ♖fc8
14. ♕h7+ ♔f8
15. ♕h8+ ♘g8
16. ♘h7+ ♔e7
17. ♕xg7 cxd4?


click for larger view

17...♔d8 was necessary, although after 18. ♕xg8+ ♔c7 19. ♕xf7 White has an excellent game.

18. ♗g5+ ♘f6
19. ♗xf6+ ♔e8
20. ♕f8#

Another example of a similar White attack is given by Oll vs Ulibin, 1989.

Aug-02-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  KingG: <17...Kd8 was necessary, although after 18. Qxg8+ Kc7 19. Qxf7 White has an excellent game.> What do you mean 'White has an excellent game'? White is 3 pawns up, and Black's pieces are all horribly placed. Black should just resign at this point.
Nov-21-06  soughzin: Anyone here play 7.Nf3 against the winawer? Is it a legitimate winning try/can white show a real advantage? I'm interested in avoiding the reams of theory of the Qg4 winawer but while still playing something relatively strong.
Nov-21-06  euripides: <soughzin> I used to play the French as a child, but haven't in ages. My impression is that 7 Nf3 or a4 at least gives both sides an interesting and strategically rich game and that modern strategic thinking tends to value White's bishops and space advantage slightly more than Black's structural advantages. It's the sort of position where the better player on either side has a real chance to make something of the game.
Jul-02-07  russep: Does anyone know if the book The Main Line French: 3 Nc3 is any good?
Oct-26-07  xrt999: < euripides: <soughzin> I used to play the French as a child, but haven't in ages >

I went through a phase in which I played the advance variation as white against the french and it always ended badly, so I gave it up. It seemed like I spent the whole game defending my central pawns, while black always focused on undermining my central pawns and succeeded.

I now mostly play the exchange with 4.c4 as white against the French and I like it a lot and have had good results.

A player who plays the French would prefer the slow, closed game of the advance or the semi-closed, building game of the exchange, and would probably love white to play 4.Nf3 after the exchange , etc. Thats why they play the French.

4.c4 and suddenly the game is open, and the question is immediately put to black to devlop a different plan.

May-08-08  hrvyklly: Dumb-ass question... I've forgotten why 7.Nf3 is considered more accurate than 7.a4 in this line of the Winawer - can any of you Francophiles help out?
Apr-14-09  Octal: Does anyone have any thoughts about the 7 h4 line? From the White side, that is.
Apr-14-09  chessman95: Another question: can anyone please give a basic overview of the ideas and plans behing the four main moves in this variation (7.Qg4, 7.Nf3, 7.a4, and 7.h4). I only know a little about them and am interested to learn more. Thanks in <advance>!
Apr-15-09  blacksburg: hmm...let's see. i just started the french, so i could be wrong, but here goes nothing.

7.Qg4 - the most obvious idea is to hit the g-pawn, exploiting the absence of the f8 bishop. if 7...g6, black has serious dark-squared liabilities. 7...0-0 looks scary, but apparently black can survive if he knows his stuff. he must watch out for the "greek gift" sacrifice with Bxh7+ in the near future. 7...Kf8 is supposed to be a reasonable move as well, but i don't like have a rook trapped on h8. otherwise, black will sac a pawn or 2 on g7 and h7, Botvinnik style. this last option seems to be under a theoretical cloud, and black has not had good results here lately. Qg4 ideas are basically the only thing i'm scared of when i play the french.

7.Nf3 - is a natural developing move, strengthening the d4 and e5 points. this seems like most natural way to play, but doesn't put any immediate pressure on black's position.

7.a4 - i had trouble understanding this at first, but the basic idea is that if black can play ...Qa5 and ...Qa4, white's queenside is blockaded and can become nothing more than a collection of weaknesses. this would also stop any Ba3 ideas, which white would like to play in some lines. 7.a4 stops ...Qa4 from ever happening.

7.h4 - i have trouble believing that this is a good move, but one idea is the rook lift Rh3 to g3 or f3, to coordinate with a Qg4 and Nf3 to seriously pressure black's queenside. i seem to remember reading that Euwe was fond of this manouevre.

Apr-15-09  blacksburg: oops, that last <queenside> should be <kingside>
Apr-15-09  chessman95: <blacksburg> thanks, that's just what I was looking for :)
Apr-15-09  WhiteRook48: 7 Bb5+
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