Thursday, 31 January 2013

A French with counter-play for White

Just lately my club chess has gone from 'very average' to 'catastrophic' to 'downright diabolical' all in the space of about a month! This evening I turned up for my game, mindful that another loss would make me have serious doubts about whether or not I ought to take up tiddly-winks instead ...?

I want to reach 130 Bcf by the end of the season but the fact is, I need to play a lot better than I have been to get anywhere near it ... In my game this evening I was faced with the French. My opponent cleverly managed to trade off his bad light squared Bishop by playing it to a6 early on ... After that I got into a tactically sharpish position (for me) and overlooked a simple enough combination from my opponent allowing him to win a pawn. My head went down - another loss maybe?

I think it should have been a loss for me, but I've always said that you have to cling on to any glimmer of hope you might have ... It is best to remain poker faced when you're losing, advisable not to show your emotions - I.e. shaking of head, grimacing, snorting, whimpering, maniacal laughter - there all off limits! My opponent went on to win the exchange (nothing much I could do about that, 'snort') but bizarrely, he only had a Queen in play with two passive rooks and my Knight was destined for a greater future on b5 ...

Incredibly, my opponent seemed to overlook the safety of his King and presented me with a chance for counter-play ... In the final position it looked like a draw by repetition was probably the best option for him, and when he offered it I practically bit his arm off !!!

(I found out after the game that my opponent was graded almost 300 Elo points above me at 1848 Elo. It paid me in grading points not to give up the fight!)

As usual, any comments welcome ...

PGN Viewer courtesy of


Stephen Milford said...

Hi Greg,

Just a quick flick through your game - well done on the draw!! Looked a bit hairy for a while but you clung on in there and found counter-chances.

I've been playing the French myself for a change (mainly due to sheer boredom after facing so many Rossolimo Sicilians or other anti-sicilian "dull-ery") and I generally don't like the ...Be7 line your opponenent played. I think it's called the Paulsen Variation. The reason I don't like it is the problem with the g8 knight after....
1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Be7 (3...Bb4 is of course the Winawer)
4. e5! (I think you played 4.Bd3 here - which certainly looks logical to me - though that ...b6 and ...Ba6 plan is irritating for White)
4...c5 (is probably thematic - is played in pretty much every other French line).
5. Qg4
And now Black seems to have the choice of ...g6 (look at those dark square holes) or ...Kf8 which just looks nasty. And what to do with the Ng8? In the Winawer, the e7 square is free for the Knight and you get those crazy-sharp poisoned pawn lines. But the only square for the knight is h6 and it can't really get there to easily and Bxh6 will be a threat and the Queen is still pressuring g7.

Anyway, I said I'd try to comment on your posts more here you go :) I hope that's given you a new idea to try against the Paulsen French



greg_b said...

Cheers Steve

That's very helpful - I will play through the line you recommend -

I have just picked up on your email now at 1:54 am !!!!!!!!

I had a club game tonight and swindled a draw ... (I was 2 pawns down in the ending ) !!!!!! the whole idea of drawing that is really quite unbelievable... I will put the game on the Blog tomorrow morning - and once again your comments will be much appreciated ...