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French, Winawer (C15)
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4

Number of games in database: 2508
Years covered: 1861 to 2023
Overall record:
   White wins 38.2%
   Black wins 31.1%
   Draws 30.7%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Jonny Hector  36 games
Eric Schiller  23 games
Throstur Thorhallsson  18 games
Ivan Farago  43 games
Wolfgang Uhlmann  35 games
Rafael Vaganian  16 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Alekhine vs Vasic, 1931
Alekhine vs Nimzowitsch, 1931
Lasker vs Capablanca, 1935
Fischer vs V Kovacevic, 1970
A Speijer vs Alekhine, 1910
J Barle vs I Jelen, 1979
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 page 1 of 101; games 1-25 of 2,508  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Paulsen vs Blackburne 1-0511861Casual gameC15 French, Winawer
2. J Minckwitz vs E Schmidt  ½-½431866Leipzig mC15 French, Winawer
3. Mackenzie vs G Reichhelm  1-0471867Mackenzie - Reichhelm 2nd US Championship MatchC15 French, Winawer
4. Zukertort vs J Schulten 1-0191868BerlinC15 French, Winawer
5. Blackburne vs T Smith  ½-½691868B.C.A. Glowworm Prize tC15 French, Winawer
6. J Lord vs Blackburne 0-1501868BCA-02.Challenge CupC15 French, Winawer
7. De Vere vs Blackburne  0-1551869BCA-02.Challenge Cup play-offC15 French, Winawer
8. Winawer vs De Vere 0-1161870Baden-BadenC15 French, Winawer
9. Anderssen vs Blackburne 1-0341870Baden-BadenC15 French, Winawer
10. J Wisker vs Blackburne 1-0441870BCA-03.Challenge CupC15 French, Winawer
11. Blackburne vs H Gazale  ½-½301871Blindfold simul, 10bC15 French, Winawer
12. Mackenzie vs H Hosmer 0-16018712nd American Chess CongressC15 French, Winawer
13. J Minckwitz vs S Mieses 1-0191872Leipzig mC15 French, Winawer
14. J Minckwitz vs S Mieses 0-1511872Leipzig mC15 French, Winawer
15. J Minckwitz vs S Mieses ½-½421872Leipzig mC15 French, Winawer
16. A Schwarz vs J Heral  1-0281873ViennaC15 French, Winawer
17. L Goldsmith vs A Burns 1-0391874Melbourne Chess Club Married v Singles MatchC15 French, Winawer
18. E Alberoni vs M Judd ½-½681876Alberoni - Judd MatchC15 French, Winawer
19. E Alberoni vs M Judd  1-0451876Alberoni - Judd MatchC15 French, Winawer
20. E Alberoni vs M Judd  0-1271876Alberoni - Judd MatchC15 French, Winawer
21. H Gifford vs A Clerc 1-0251878ParisC15 French, Winawer
22. E Flechsig vs A Schwarz ½-½361879LeipzigC15 French, Winawer
23. M Borgi Guerrazzi vs M Cavallotti  0-1301881Italian ChampionshipC15 French, Winawer
24. A Fritz vs J Noa  ½-½341887FrankfurtC15 French, Winawer
25. Metger vs J Noa ½-½381887FrankfurtC15 French, Winawer
 page 1 of 101; games 1-25 of 2,508  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-18-07  Plato: In World Championship play, the Winawer was adopted a total of 18 times. The players to use it as Black were Alekhine, Euwe, and Botvinnik.

From these games, the overall score is 67% for White: +9 -3 =6

Mar-18-07  laskereshevsky: <sitzkrieg:....What is the idea behind black's last move (Qd8-d7)...>

the idea is to play 5. ...b6 and 6. ...♗a6 for change the light squares ♗, wich one is often a very sad piece for the black in the winnawer french. if the black play at once 4. ...b6 in place of ♕d7. when the wihte move 5.♗b5+, forcing 5. ...c6 its unpleasant for the black. So ♕d7 prevent this.

( of course after 5.♗d2 b6 6.♗b5 the move 6. ...c6 its forced, but in black favour there is the not activ position of the white's ♗d2)

another point is in case of 5.♕g4 is possible to defend the g♙ with 5. ...f5, and after 6.♕h5+ the black can play ...♕f7 and g6 either, its a matter of taste....even if several theorist considering ♕f7 quite better

May-14-07  slomarko: i didnt know this opening even has its own webpage.
May-14-07  Plato: <slomarko> Every opening variation does. Just search by ECO code and click on it, or click on the ECO code on the game page of any given game.

BTW, for Winawer fans like myself: the stats above are not meant to imply anything bad about the Winawer; I was just doing some research on opening variations that have been used in World Championship games.

May-14-07  slomarko: <Plato> thanks i didnt know that. I'm curious was Botvinnik the last one who played the Winawer in a world championship match? (as far as i remember Karpov played the Tarrash against Korchnoi's french.) and if the answer is yes what do you think is the reason for this 50 years absence?
May-14-07  Plato: <slomarko> The answer is yes (as you can gather from my Mar-18 post).

And the reason was, as you know, that either the players with White or the players with Black did not choose to go for it. Very simple. It did not suit their style either with White or Black, so they chose different systems instead.

For example, when Korchnoi played the French against Karpov in 1978, both times Karpov played 3.Nd2 -- avoiding the Winawer, which he knew was what Korchnoi played almost invariably against 3.Nc3. Instead, Karpov chose the Tarrasch.

If you're going to judge a system's soundness by whether or not it has been played in a World Championship match in the last 46 years (which I know is what you're getting at, given the context of our previous discussion), then I'm afraid you'll have to wrongly conclude that *many* systems are unsound, saying that those systems are "for dinosaurs," or "antiquated," or "dead, refuted, finished!" like you said about the Winawer.

May-14-07  slomarko: <Plato> would you at least agree that the najdorf for example is much more flexable?
May-14-07  Plato: That's a very general question. The Winawer is flexible, too, as it offers many very different ways for Black to proceed against any variation. I would consider it much more flexible than 3...Nf6, for example. Note that this doesn't mean I think it's objectively better, just that it offers more flexibility. Having played both, I believe the Winawer offers a wider range of different kinds of lines and types of positions to choose from (compared to the Classical).

If you don't think of the Winawer as a flexible opening, then we either disagree on the meaning of "flexible" as it applies to chess, or else you might not know the relevant theory of the Winawer and its many sub-variations (which is to be expected since you don't play it as Black).

May-14-07  slomarko: well i dont know but you are always without the black bishop and the center is usualy blocked with e5, i dont know how much can you vary there. same goes for the 3...Nf6 french but it least its much easier to play.
May-14-07  Plato: <slomarko> You don't even have to trade the Black bishop on c3, necessarily. For example there are even lines like the "Swarm" (Swiss-Armenian variation) with 4.e5 c5, 5.a3 Ba5!? There too the bishop is often traded, eventually, but the game has a very different character. But of course even after trading on c3 Black still has many different kinds of options, such as the "Poisoned Pawn" variation which is completely different from the 7....0-0 variation, etc. And that's not even scraping the surface. It's a fascinating opening, truly!
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: "I'm curious was Botvinnik the last one who played the Winawer in a world championship match? (as far as i remember Karpov played the Tarrash against Korchnoi's french.) and if the answer is yes what do you think is the reason for this 50 years absence?"

Korchnoi plays the Winawer and probably would have used it against Karpov except that Karpov always played 3 Nd2 avoiding the Winawer. There were 6 Winawers in the 1977 candidate finals match between Spassky and Korchnoi (white won 1, Black won 3 and there were 2 draws). Petrosian played the French 4 times against Spassky in 1966 but not the Winawer. Petrosian did play the Winawer occasionally but perhaps he felt it was too sharp for a championship match.

May-14-07  slomarko: oh i've forgotten about that Ba5 variation. maybe i'll give it a try in some blitz games just for the fun of it.
May-14-07  Plato: If we include Candidates matches since 1961 (the last time it was seen in a World Championship) then the list grows even more: in addition to Spassky-Korchnoi 1977 there were also Winawer games from Geller-Spassky 1968, Fischer-Larsen 1971, Spassky-Portisch 1980, Sokolov-Vaganian 1985, and Sokolov-Yusupov 1986. From the Candidates matches it scored very respectably (White won six, Black won five, and there were five draws).

<slomarko> You should... it seems very interesting. I've never played it myself (except in blitz) but I'm starting to learn more about it in order to include it in my tournament repertoire.

Aug-17-07  SniperOnKN2: what's the current eval. on the line 7.Qg4 0-0? (Knight on e7, pawns in reg winawer formation) I can't decide whether to play that or the poison pawn line 7...Qc7.
Aug-19-07  nescio: <SniperOnKN2: what's the current eval. on the line 7.Qg4 0-0? (Knight on e7, pawns in reg winawer formation) I can't decide whether to play that or the poison pawn line 7...Qc7.>

It isn't really important what the verdict of the theoreticians is. That verdict is sure to change a few times in the future. Both 7...0-0 and 7...Qc7 are quite playable and I think you should select the move you like best as you will probably have the best results with it. I can only say that Uhlmann almost always played 7...Qc7 and in his games you can see how much fun you can have with that move.

I realize that this isn't an answer to your query and I waited a few days in the hope that some more knowledgable people would reply.

May-03-08  FrogC: I used to have a little book by Andrew Martin that recommended the line: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 f6!? I've found very few mentions of 7...f6 anywhere else. Has anyone here tried it? I played it recently on the Internet and my opponent had a long think and then immediately fell to pieces. Wish I still had Martin's booklet, which doesn't seem to be available anywhere. For one thing, I'd like to know what he recommended against the positional lines with 7.Nf3 etc
May-03-08  hrvyklly: <FrogC> Khalifman in 'Opening for White According to Anand 7' covers 6...Qc7 7.Qg4 f6, devoting 5 pages to it: 8.Nf3 cxd4; 8...Nc6; 8...c4

With his main line running: 7...f6 8.Nf3 c4 9.Be2 Nc6 10.Qg3 Qf7 11.O-O Nge7 12.exf6 gxf6 13.Nh4 e5 14.dxe5 Rg8 15.Qf4 Nxe5 16.Re1 Bg4 17.Nf3 Bxf3 18.Bxf3 Nxf3+ Qxf3 concluding that: 'Both sides have numerous weaknesses in that position, but White's bishop is much stronger than Black's knight, so he maintains a slight, but stable advantage, Acs-Nikloic, Triploi 2004.'

May-03-08  Rama: I had good luck with the 6. ... Qc7, line, which I defeated several good players rated several hundred points higher than me. I got it from Alekhine's notes on the openings, in the appendix to his book on the NY 1924 tournament. It is an example Averbak's theory of the double attack. Plus, nobody expects it.
May-04-08  FrogC: Thanks, <hrvyklly> and <Rama>. This line definitely looks playable, at my level anyway.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Thank you <hrvyklly>, indeed an interesting game: Acs vs P Nikolic, 2004
Mar-08-10  jbtigerwolf: How does black do so well even though he gives up the bishop pair so soon? I'm inclined to feel that if white can master c15-c19 he should always win... So what is the reasoning behind black's 3...Bb4? Why? White protects the e-pawn by 4.e5... it's obvious, so why simply lose the bishop pair so soon? Why is there no other move after 3.Nc3?
Aug-11-10  cuppajoe: <jbtigerwolf> Black gets compensation for White's bishop pair in the form of doubled c-pawns to attack (it's a little like the Nimzo-Indian in that respect). In addition, White's bishop pair is hard to exploit because it's difficult to open the centre after White plays e5.

Having the two bishops is an advantage, but it hardly means a forced win in all situations.

Aug-11-10  jahhaj: <jbtigerwolf: Is there no other move after 3.Nc3?> 3...Nf6 is perfectly respectable.
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Time to revive yet, another dead thread/page.

Winawer [variation], first (recorded in CG database); played by Paulsen vs Blackburne, 1861 however, Mr. Winawer himself, only played it twice, and only once as black!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

French, Winawer
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.♘c3 ♗b4

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