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French (C11)
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6

Number of games in database: 10041
Years covered: 1869 to 2023
Overall record:
   White wins 38.8%
   Black wins 26.3%
   Draws 34.9%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Viswanathan Anand  47 games
Peter Leko  43 games
Alexey Shirov  40 games
Mikhail Gurevich  107 games
Evgeny Bareev  101 games
Viktor Korchnoi  81 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Nimzowitsch vs Alapin, 1914
Pillsbury vs Lasker, 1896
Polgar vs F Berkes, 2003
Topalov vs Bareev, 1994
J Kaplan vs Bronstein, 1975
Bogoljubov vs Reti, 1923
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 page 1 of 402; games 1-25 of 10,041 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Blackburne vs Bird 1-0401869BCA-02.Challenge CupC11 French
2. Blackburne vs W Vyse  1-0281871Blindfold simul, 10bC11 French
3. Anderssen vs Paulsen 0-1621871WSB-09.Kongress playoff-1plC11 French
4. Steinitz vs Blackburne ½-½301873ViennaC11 French
5. A Schwarz vs Blackburne  1-0321873ViennaC11 French
6. Steinitz vs M Fleissig 1-0501873ViennaC11 French
7. Blackburne vs A Schwarz 1-0551873ViennaC11 French
8. S Rosenthal vs Paulsen 1-0551873ViennaC11 French
9. M Fleissig vs A Schwarz 0-1391873ViennaC11 French
10. Steinitz vs Meitner 1-0451873ViennaC11 French
11. M Fleissig vs A Schwarz  1-0581873ViennaC11 French
12. K Pitschel vs J Heral 0-1401873ViennaC11 French
13. Anderssen vs A Schwarz 1-0471873ViennaC11 French
14. W H Grundy vs W Rouse Ball 0-13918742nd Oxford - Cambridge Varsity mC11 French
15. A Skipworth vs Burn  0-12518745th CCA CongressC11 French
16. H C Plunkett vs J Keynes  0-14518753rd Oxford - Cambridge Varsity mC11 French
17. C M Fisher vs A Burns 0-1621876New South Wales v Victoria Telegraphic MatchC11 French
18. J Wisker vs W Potter  0-1431876Simpson's Divan, LondonC11 French
19. Blackburne vs J O H Taylor  ½-½381876Blindfold simul, 8bC11 French
20. Burn vs B W Fisher  1-02318767th CCA Congress Handicap tC11 French
21. J Elson vs J Mason  ½-½3318764th American Chess Congress, PhiladelphiaC11 French
22. Bird vs J Mason 1-0501876Clipper Free Centennial TournamentC11 French
23. C T Goering vs A W Franke 1-0361877LeipzigC11 French
24. E Schallopp vs Metger 1-0621877LeipzigC11 French
25. E Schallopp vs Paulsen 0-1411877LeipzigC11 French
 page 1 of 402; games 1-25 of 10,041 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-27-04  jesterco12: Why is 1.e4 e6 2.d4 Nc6 never played? What's wrong with it?
Mar-27-04  Phoenix: It blocks out the c8 bishop is the main reason, I believe.
Premium Chessgames Member
  waddayaplay: Maybe it is not unsound, but what is the purpose of Nc6 anyhow? If black later wants to play c5, he loses (yet) another tempo. And c5 is pretty important in most openings. Well atleast QP openings.

// waddayaplay

Jul-28-04  Marquis De Sade: what is the greatest french win (for black) of all time?
Sep-17-04  Knight13: In this position, I would play 4. e5.
Oct-05-04  HolyKnight: Anyone know a good line vs the Stienz Variation. I would like to play some McCutcheon games, but the Stienz scares me.
Jun-15-05  notyetagm: <drukenknight: A French question: almost 700 games in the data base that start like this (known as Burn variation):

e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 5. Nxe4

would you believe no one has ever played 5...Qd5!?

go ahead try it and see what you think. >

The line 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 ♘c3(♘d2) dxe4 4 ♘xe4 ♕d5!? is called the <Katalymov Variation> and is similar to your line above. This <Katalymov variation> is the subject of the SOS column of the latest New In Chess magazine.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Opening Explorer in the above position, is it prudent for white to push the b pawn to b3? or let the b3 pawn be captured and chase the queen around and gain development/tempo?? Thanks in advance.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <WannaBe> On general grounds, white would hate to play b3. Not only is a non-developing pawn move, it weakens the dark squares and makes the knight vulnerable to a later ...Bb4. You'll notice if you continue in Opening Explorer that no one has played 7 b3. Of the four moves that are given, only 7 Be3 actually allows the b-pawn to be captured, but in none of the games included has black actually captured it.

That said, I don't see any crushing refutation if black does play 7...Qxb2. After 8 Nb5 it looks like black has to continue 8...Kd8 or 8...Na6, with a thoroughly screwed up development (8...Qb4+? 9 Bd2 Qa4 10 Nc7+). I wouldn't want to play black here, even with an extra pawn. But I can't say he's lost. 8 Na4 Qa3 9 c3 (threatening Bc1) cd doesn't look all that promising for white to me...

Someone with a computer or a better knowledge of this line may be more helpful.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Thank you <keypusher>!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <wannabe> OK, I looked at it briefly with Fritz. After 7...Qxb2 8 Nb5 Kd8? 9 Ng5 Fritz thinks black is completely lost. It prefers 8...Na6 9 Rb1 Qxa2 10 Ra1 Qb2 11 Rxa6 (I have to admit this didn't look so great to me) ba 12 Nc7+ Ke7 (12...Kd8 13 Ng5) 13 Nxa8 Qb8 14 c4 Qxa8 and Fritz thinks white has an advantage, though not a huge one.

Apparently someone tried this line in a game once but came to a grisly end after 9 Nc7+ Kd8 10 Bxd4!

Note that white can avoid all this by playing 7 dc or 7 Na4.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: <keypusher> Thank you again. will have to try it out. =))
Jul-23-06  BobbyBishop: I've been experimenting with the Rubinstein line and liking it. But I recently ran into:

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 5. Bxf6!

The ! is not because I think it's a great just surprised me. I checked the database and found only 24 games with this line. I tried Qxf6 but after 6. Nxe4 Qd8 7. Nf3 black is terribly behind in developement. There was one game with 6. Qf4 which seemed interesting especially since the Q sat there on f4 until the 18th move! Here it is for those interested...

Greis Heinz vs P Troeger, 1948

So I think ..5 gxf6 is probably my best bet for an active game. Any French experts out there have some helpful insights? Thanks!

Jul-28-06  Crackov Bonestein: Quit the French! lol .. just kidding of course :)
Aug-03-06  gambitfan: I am now playing two games with this "classical" defense of the French...

I feel that just doing 4 e5... puts me in a comfortable stuation...

Oct-13-06  ganstaman: So I came across this sequence of moves in the database: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Qb6 8. Na4 Qa5 9. c3 cxd4 10. b4 Nxb4 11. cxb4 Bxb4 12. Bd2 Bxd2 13. Nxd2

And it seems that 13...g4 is possibly white's best next move. But what caught my eye was the knight-for-3-pawns that occurs with 10...Nxb4. Is this actually playable for black? It has been used ( Games Like Short vs Timman, 1994 ), and looks quite exciting -- would you play it? Would you allow this position to come up as black, or as white?

click for larger view

Oct-13-06  NateDawg: <ganstaman> 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.♘c3 ♘f6 4.e5 ♘fd7 5.f4 c5 6.♘f3 ♘c6 7.♗e3 ♕b6 8.♘a4 ♕a5+ 9.c3 cxd4 10.b4 ♘xb4 11.cxb4 ♗xb4+ 12.♗d2 ♗xd2+ 13.♘xd2 is a very interesting variation, and I probably actually prefer Black's position. I would rather have 3 pawns than a knight. A possible continuation is 13...b6 14.♗d3 ♗a6 15.♘b3, resulting in the following position.

click for larger view

Black can now play either 15...♘c5 or 15...♗xd3. Fritz 9 gives the position = (0.18), and Crafty 19.19 gives it = (0.16).

As for your idea of 14.g4, it doesn't seem too good. 13.♘xd2 b6 14.g4 O-O 15.♗d3 ♗a6 16.♗xa6 ♕xa6 17.g5 ♕d3 and White's king is far too exposed and Black can easily defend against any White attack. Fritz 9 gives this position (-1.30).

Overall, it is a very interesting variation, one in which I would probably prefer Black.

Oct-13-06  ganstaman: <NateDawg> Well, 13...g5 wasn't exactly my move. In fact, the first game I saw with this variaion featured 13...b6. But as my link above shows, 13...g5 has been played by GMs (seems to have a score of +3 -1 in white's favor though).

Oh, rereading I see that you thought I said 14.g4, though I said 13...g4 and meant 13...g5. Also adding to the confusion is that I said it was white's move when I was really discussing black's. I should really work on reading over my posts a little better and stop flipping the board when I analyze things from black's perspective.

But still, I like that others like the position for black. If I can just get my opponents to stop playing the exchange French, I'll attempt to give it a shot.

Nov-03-06  drukenknight: I hope this is the place to put an Albin chatard attack. I guess it is an Albin Chatard but it is a tricky move order, one aspect is to study where black messes up his defense because mess up he does... I missed winning the game twice in the middle stage! (can you find them?)

I wouldnt have posted such an embarrasing game here but black walks his K across the board to save the game and the ending is a lot of fun trying to find a way to hold it for black..

I'll leave out the annotations for now and you can analyze it for fun..

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. e5 Nfd7
5. h4 (I like to play this strange move for some reason)

5... Bb4 (this I think is a novelty)
6. Qg4 g6
7. Bg5 Be7
8. Nh3 f6
9. Bh6 f5
10. Qf3 Bxh4
11. Nf4 Kf7
12. Nh3 c5
13. O-O-O Nc6
14. Nb5 Be7
15. g4 Nxd4
16. Nxd4 cxd4
17. gxf5 exf5
18. Qxd5+ Ke8
19. Bc4 Nb6
20. Qf7+ Kd7
21. e6+ Kc6
22. Bb3 Bf6
23. Rhe1 Qe7
24. Qxe7 Bxe7
25. Bg7 Rd8
26. Bxd4 g5
27. f3 h6
28. a4 a5
29. c3 Nd5
30. Bc2 g4
31. Bxf5 gxh3
32. Bxh3 Nf4
33. Bf5 b6
34. Be4+ Nd5
35. c4 Bg5+
36. Kb1 Kc7
37. cxd5 Ra7
38. Be5+ Kb7
39. d6+ Kb8
40. d7+ 1-0

Oct-03-07  ganstaman:

Tried by Lilienthal, Petrosian, Bronstein, and others. Can it really be good?

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Ng8!? or 3...Bb4 4. e5 Bg8 or 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Ng8 3. Nc3 d5 4. d4 e6.

I guess the idea is that the knight isn't as useful on d7 (since 4...Nfd7 is the usual move), and instead black would prefer Ng8-h6-f5 or Ng8-e7, maybe from there Ne7-g6. So does that make it playable? Is white actually overextended here by enough to warrant such moves by black?

Nov-15-07  Timeline: The Burn Variation is very popular among top levels these days. After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxf6, there are two main choices with
mainline (6...Bxf6)
or Morozevich line (6...gxf6)
Personally, I prefer the later which is more unbalancing, but Bxf6 could be more of a solid choice.
Nov-15-07  popski: <ganstaman> Yea, this looks anti intuitive system like this cool offbeat: Kasparov vs Ivanchuk, 1995
Aug-26-09  muwatalli: as an aggressive player who enjoys sacrifices should i be playing e5 or bg5? i've been having trouble finding lines i like against the classical french.
Aug-26-09  Open Defence: < muwatalli > I would recommend Bg5 .. e5 is very good but the position takes on a more closed nature which you might not prefer...
Aug-26-09  MaxxLange: <muwatalli> Play Bg5 and aim for the Alekhine-Chatard gambit:

Pachman vs Eckert, 1940

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