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French, Classical (C14)
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e5 Nfd7 6 Bxe7 Qxe7

Number of games in database: 1712
Years covered: 1866 to 2023
Overall record:
   White wins 44.5%
   Black wins 27.5%
   Draws 28.0%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Lajos Steiner  13 games
Harry Nelson Pillsbury  10 games
Adolf Georg Olland  10 games
Evgeny Gleizerov  54 games
Mikhail Ulybin  40 games
Gideon Stahlberg  29 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Tarrasch vs Teichmann, 1912
N Speijer vs Couvee, 1955
Rubinstein vs Levenfish, 1911
Von Gottschall vs Blackburne, 1885
Van der Sterren vs Korchnoi, 1984
Shirov vs Morozevich, 2000
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 page 1 of 69; games 1-25 of 1,712  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Steinitz vs Bird 0-1631866Bird - SteinitzC14 French, Classical
2. Englisch vs Blackburne  ½-½311878ParisC14 French, Classical
3. Mackenzie vs Blackburne 0-1481878ParisC14 French, Classical
4. Anderssen vs Blackburne 1-0551878ParisC14 French, Classical
5. Winawer vs Blackburne ½-½771878ParisC14 French, Classical
6. Zukertort vs A Clerc 1-0261878ParisC14 French, Classical
7. Anderssen vs Metger 1-0431878WSB-12.KongressC14 French, Classical
8. Schiffers vs Chigorin 1-0481879Chigorin - Schiffers Third MatchC14 French, Classical
9. C Moehle vs A Sellman  ½-½6618805th American Chess Congress, New YorkC14 French, Classical
10. Mackenzie vs J Congdon ½-½6618805th American Chess Congress, New YorkC14 French, Classical
11. Mackenzie vs M Judd  ½-½3718805th American Chess Congress, New YorkC14 French, Classical
12. J Minckwitz vs K Pitschel  1-0281880WSB-13.KongressC14 French, Classical
13. Gunsberg vs Blackburne ½-½501881Blackburne - GunsbergC14 French, Classical
14. E Crespi Pozzi vs A D'Aumiller  1-03118813rd Italian Championship, MilanC14 French, Classical
15. E Crespi Pozzi vs G Zon  ½-½4018813rd Italian Championship, MilanC14 French, Classical
16. V Hruby vs P Ware 1-0531882ViennaC14 French, Classical
17. Chigorin vs P Ware  1-0511882ViennaC14 French, Classical
18. A F Wurm vs I Orchard  1-0351883MatchC14 French, Classical
19. H Lee vs B W Fisher  0-1401883London (Vizayanagaram)C14 French, Classical
20. Tarrasch vs S Loewenthal 1-0441883NurembergC14 French, Classical
21. H Lee vs C J Lambert  1-0491883London (Vizayanagaram)C14 French, Classical
22. J Mortimer vs J Mason  ½-½211883LondonC14 French, Classical
23. J Mortimer vs A Sellman  0-1451883LondonC14 French, Classical
24. Tarrasch vs G Barthmann 1-0521883NurnbergC14 French, Classical
25. Chigorin vs de Riviere  ½-½871883Chigorin - de RiviereC14 French, Classical
 page 1 of 69; games 1-25 of 1,712  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-21-03  drukenknight: Here is a fun one from a rapid game I played last night. I like to play the early h4 because I like the ALbin-Chatard attack and this move is a nice waiting move, since black seems trained to respond to the basic replies. Most black players will play 5...c5 automatically, so it makes the analysis of the early part pretty straightforward.

I had been playing this as white, and the problem was what to do when black brings the Q to b6 and then gives check.

Another interesting thing is that the game leaves book on move 5. Couldnt find any games in the chessbase data base or this website. And it doesnt transpose back into any games either, zero! I cannot believe no one has played 5 h4.

So the game is unique at a very early stage and thus there is lots of room for improvements, if you like to experiment as white in the French.

HEre goes:

French classical w/ 5 h4
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. h4 c5 6. Bg5 Qb6 7. Na4 Qa5+ 8. c3 b5 9. Nxc5 Nxc5 10. dxc5 Nc6 11. b4 Qc7 12. Bxb5 Qxe5+ 13. Ne2 Bd7 14. Bf4 Qf5 15. g3 Be7 16. Nd4 Qe4+ 17. Kd2 a6 18. Bxc6 Bxc6 19. f3 Qg6 20. Nxc6 Qh5 and 1-0 a few moves later...

Premium Chessgames Member
  technical draw: Good game, drunkenknight! You're right about black automatically playing 5...c5. I did it too. Maybe black should play first 5...Be7, like in Keres-Wade London, 1954. But the great Keres won that game anyway!
Nov-21-03  AdrianP: <DK> Nice game... h4 looks interesting... it's an idea which pops up in other lines of the french, and seems to be getting played earlier and earlier: I think you'll find some games of Morozevich's with an early h4, sometimes with ideas of a Rook lift to h3.

8. ...cxd4 looks like a substantial improvement for B to me, though.

9. b4?! Qc7! and W has to do something about the hanging pawns on both c3 and e5.

Maybe there's an improvement for W earlier on: 7. Na4 looks a little dangerous to me. The following is a nice little trap 7. Nf3 Qxb2?! 8. Nb5! threatening all sorts including the simple Nc7+

Who knows, maybe 5. h4!? will become the Drukenknight Variation of the French Classical!

Nov-21-03  drukenknight: Thanks for the tips guys. I had been studying some of the Albin-Chatard attacks and may be able to post some of that.

Adrian, you're right: 8...cxd4 is really the best way to go. Computer gives black a slight edge here so I will have to work on that.

Also 10...b4 11 c4 leads to very tricky play involving that looming discovered check. 10...b4 is am improvement and would have prevented 11 b4. This was a 10 min game and black was already starting to consume time at that pt.

I had been playing similar lines before, but I kept getting into the position after 8...b5. In several games I had made a poor 9th move, and black followed with 9...Qxa4. Well duh! That was what I kept missing, that Q is now free to hit the N. Most players play 8...b5 somewhat automatically.

Nov-21-03  drukenknight: Oh and instead of 5...c5 some people play: 5....a6

They like to preclude the N or B from b5; this is followed by 6 Nh3 which can lead to very tricky play often involving a N sack on e5. Like if eventually black plays Be7 (a natural move as you pointed out)and white gets in Nf4, then BxB KxB and the two white Ns attack d4 sometimes forking K/Q and sometimes just clearing the way for the Rooks.

I'll see if I can dig out a game on that.

Nov-22-03  drukenknight: Oh I found a cute little poison pawn trap in the 5 h4 line; 5... c5 6 Bg5 Qb6 7. Qd2 Qxb2 8 Rb1 QxR (since 8...Qa3 9 Nb5 drops the Q) 9 NxR

Going from memory there, there could be a typo or something in there.

Nov-22-03  Cyphelium: <drukenknight> As usual, if there is an alternative to taking the poisoned pawn one should try it. After 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. h4 c5 6. Bg5 Qb6 7. Qd2 cxd4, black seems to be a pawn up and has the better position. 8. Nb5 Nc6 and white has some problems with pawn e5 as well. Frankly I believe that idea of playing h4 to be able to play Bg5 is bad in this position. Playing h2-h4 in the french is mostly done when one is able to cover pawn d4 whith a pawn on c3, like in the Winawer. Anyway, maybe something else than 6. Bg5 could be tried.
Nov-22-03  drukenknight: the chessbase computer did not see a problem with 6 Bg5; 7 Qd2 could be a mistake, I havent really checked it, maybe you are right about that. I just wanted to point out the trap. Again, the opening could stand some more research, I posted some of MOrozovich's games that have an early h4. There were only 3 of them that I could find, not really the same thing.
Mar-31-06  suenteus po 147: For you kibitzers who play the black side of the French Defense, do you find this variation any good? What about 3...Nf6 in response to 3.Nc6 in general (aka French (C11))?
Mar-31-06  CapablancaFan: I play this from time to time and I have a pretty good rate of success on the black side. After ...7 c5 pawn push black has a good game.
Mar-31-06  suenteus po 147: <CapablancaFan> Thanks for your input!
May-04-06  Underworld: Well, after h4 i would see h6 doing fine before Be7.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: <suenteus po147>, Bogart might have liked the Classical--if you look closely at the chessboard when you first see him in Casablanca, the position seems to be this one.
Aug-06-06  soughzin: Bg5 is often played on move 4 and h4 on move 5. Of course then on move 4 black can play Bb4 or dxe. But I don't get why black plays dxe there as they can play 3...dxe straight off and cut down the theory a lot.
Jan-14-09  Open Defence: < suenteus po 147 > there was a Chessbase Opening Training DVD on the French Classical which I am informed is very good
Mar-29-09  parisattack: I like the Heidenfeld Variation (5. ...Ng8) and don't think there is an outright refutation to the Tartakower, either (5. ...Ne4).

Curious the Main Line with 5. ...Nfd7 can transpose into a Richter-Rauzer Sicilian.

Mar-29-09  chessman95: <Curious the Main Line with 5. ...Nfd7 can transpose into a Richter-Rauzer Sicilian.>

I might be missing something but I can't see how the main line Classical French can transpose to the Richter-Rauzer Sicilian. Could you give an example line?

Mar-29-09  parisattack: An older line from the 60s...

I remember analyzing it and suddenly realizing 'this is a Classical French.' A couple of games on Chess Labs, probably other permutations - I'll look in an old MCO -

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 d6
6. Bg5 e6
7. Qd2 Be7
8. O-O-O a6
9. f4 d5
10. e5 Nd7
11. Bxe7 Qxe7

Mar-29-09  chessman95: I don't think that's a true transposition. It might be though... but 9...d5 doesn't have a single game in the database: Opening Explorer
Mar-29-09  parisattack: I'll find the cite from MCO 10 or 11. Try the position at - couple there. The particular line went out of fashion long ago. I'm an old man... :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <Parisattack> There is a problem with this particular transposition in that it loses a pawn, e.g.

<10.exd5> exd5 11. Nf3 Be6 12. Bxf6 Bxf6 13. Nxd5 Qxd5 14. Qxd5 Bxd5 15. Rxd5

Feb-26-12  The Finisher: I lost in this line as white. Thought I had found my answer. No :(

All the kids are playing e6. It makes no sense, as it is a very mature, solid, boring choice. I grew up with e4-e5, then everyone aped Kasparov (fair enough) with e4-c5.

If I can't find an answer I will shift to d4 or c4. When he plays e6 I might as well write 0-1 on my score sheet. I will have a look at the exchange now. Maybe that's the answer; get rid of that blasted pawn chain.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

French, Classical
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.♘c3 ♘f6 4.♗g5 ♗e7 5.e5 ♘fd7 6.♗xe7 ♕xe7

click for larger view

Mar-04-12  parisattack: <The Finisher: I lost in this line as white. Thought I had found my answer. No :( All the kids are playing e6. It makes no sense, as it is a very mature, solid, boring choice. I grew up with e4-e5, then everyone aped Kasparov (fair enough) with e4-c5.

If I can't find an answer I will shift to d4 or c4. When he plays e6 I might as well write 0-1 on my score sheet. I will have a look at the exchange now. Maybe that's the answer; get rid of that blasted pawn chain.>

I've had some success with 1. e4 and 2. c4 against both the French and Caro-Kann.

The KIA against the French is solid, also.

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