Best Chess Opening to Counter 1.e4 as Black

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🔹 French Defense Tricks & Traps –

♛ Find the variations shown in the video in this blog-post –

Are you looking for a solid chess opening to thwart White’s 1.e4? In this video lesson, GM Igor Smirnov will teach you the French Defense, a reliable choice for Black.

While the move 1…e5 as Black is the most popular response to 1.e4, it comes with its own set of challenges, primarily facing various aggressive openings and gambits from White. One key vulnerability in the 1…e5 setup is the pawn on f7, only defended by the king, making it a prime target for White’s attacks.

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The Strength of the French Defense

This is where the French Defense comes into play. By playing 1…e6, Black instantly eliminates the threat to the f7 pawn, providing a solid and robust foundation for the game. The next move, 2…d5, further solidifies Black’s position by blocking the central e4-pawn.

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The “Fort Knox” Variation

A key challenge in the French Defense is developing the bishop on c8, which often finds itself locked behind the e6 pawn. This lesson provides a solution by introducing the Fort Knox variation in the Rubinstein Variation. This approach involves developing the c8-bishop to c6 via d7. The bishop on c6 plays an active role in controlling key central squares and putting pressure on White’s position.

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► Chapters

00:00 Best Chess Opening for Black Against 1.e4
00:07 French Defense: Why is it better than 1…e5?
01:32 French Defense: Rubinstein Variation, Fort Knox Variation
03:23 1) If White plays 8.Nxf6+
05:01 2) If White plays 8.Bg5
07:37 2.2) Black’s middlegame plan to attack in the center
10:29 3) If White plays 8.Ng3 (best move)
11:48 4) If White plays 8.Re1
13:01 Important positional tip
14:18 3.exd5, Exchange Variation
14:50 3.e5, Advance Variation

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52 Comments

  1. These are really excellent videos, thank you. I have bought one of your courses, but haven't got time to really study – so these detailed videos are a real delight.

  2. Great video. Right away trying out this opening as black. But of course first two matches I got this line:

    1. e4 e6
    2. d4 d5
    3. e5 ??

    White pushes the pawn. Then Nf6 not possible. Just continue with Bd7 .. Bc6 ? What is a good continuation if white plays e5 ?

  3. Igor, most of my opponents play e5. Then I can't take on e4. Thanks for suggestions

  4. I don’t like playing the Spanish or the Italian or the scotch as black.

    So I go 1…c6

  5. It looks like it’s time for me to review my French games.

  6. Pawn by white on 3rd move to c4 , I run into that a lot

  7. Hello you had a big Blinder in this video

  8. How do we deal with an early check on the king from the light square bishop?

  9. But what if my opponent plays 1.e4 e6 2.e5

  10. I always play e5 trying Rosseau gambit, bur this is a strong defense. Thank You so much!

  11. Every white player under 1200 pushes pawns to e5 and d4 against me instead of Nc3, so f6 is no-go and it kind of ruins this opening for me. 😕

  12. At 2:58 on the video, the opponent knight can actually be placed at e5 isn't it? It is backed up by the pawn

  13. Thanks for the video Igor. I usually play the French defense. The lines that it usually starts out first is,
    1.e4 e6 2 nf3 d5 they usually take on d5. I hope you can show a line on this.

  14. One of the big problems in these types of videos is that most people aren’t going to follow these lines. You can set up like normally and they aren’t going to act like the imaginary player in the video. Some of the moves are also just nonsensical even for complete beginners because it presumes they play with long term strategy or at the very least a long term plan

  15. Why don't we just Fianchetoo the white bishop rather than this move? What's the difference?😢

  16. Very nice lesson for beginners, thanks Mr GM Igor sir 🎉🎉❤

  17. Lots of wish moves. Looks like white is playing just bad or black is wishing white to play bad…

  18. – Consider the French defense against e4 for a solid opening (00:08).

    – Learn the Fort Knox variation to simplify the French defense (01:26).

    – Trade pawns in the center to ease the play in the French defense (02:00).

    – Immediately address the passive light-square bishop issue with Bishop D7 (02:15).

    – Use Bishop C6 to actively attack and control the diagonal (02:33).

    – Develop the knight to D7 to control the e5 square and support other pieces (02:49).

    – Play Knight F6 to double the attack on e4 and prepare for further development (03:09).

    – Capture with the queen on f6 when possible to create threats (03:59).

    – Neutralize white's pin with Bishop E7 and consider queen trades if advantageous (05:41).

    – Attack white's weak pawns in the endgame, using rooks and bishops effectively (06:49).

    – In the event of white playing solidly, complete development with Bishop E7 and castle (12:05).

    – Consider Pawn to C5 to challenge white's center and gain equality (13:34).

  19. Kasparov wrote a book entitled E4..Nc6 wins.
    The Nimzovitch defence.
    Any video on that one, please, Sir ?

  20. Please make a detailed tutorial on alekhine defence from black's perspective.

  21. ► Chapters

    00:00 Best Chess Opening for Black Against 1.e4

    00:07 French Defense: Why is it better than 1…e5?

    01:32 French Defense: Rubinstein Variation, Fort Knox Variation

    03:23 1) If White plays 8.Nxf6+

    05:01 2) If White plays 8.Bg5

    07:37 2.2) Black's middlegame plan to attack in the center

    10:29 3) If White plays 8.Ng3 (best move)

    11:48 4) If White plays 8.Re1

    13:01 Important positional tip

    14:18 3.exd5, Exchange Variation

    14:50 3.e5, Advance Variation

  22. Please do a video on the pirc defense how to win with it

  23. Why take the knight on f3 with the bishop? Is it better to retake with knight and keep the bishop pair?

  24. Is very complicated. I don't feel protected with enough.

  25. Hey Igor please make a vedio on caro kan defence from both white and Black's perspective…

  26. I always play French defense against this and have done really well.

  27. My rating is stuck .
    I would appreciate your help just 2 minutes of your time.
    Account: XDeathNote3n

  28. I prefer to play the Scandinavian (modern variation) as black with which I win a vast majority of games. But I struggle when that transposes into the advanced French defense.

  29. I f*** love these videos, finding my self playing a lot more chess lately 😂 /thanks

  30. I'm in 1600s, and if they go e4 I go d5 every time. If they take I capture with the queen and then go back to Qd8. If they don't take I push d5 to d4. Works out for me every time. Apparently it's some Scandinavian defense move but I don't know all that chess theory, my style of playing just making sure all my pieces are constantly defended unless I'm setting traps for knight forks or something.

  31. "Thank you Igor, never heard of this one; I used the Sicilian, guess I'm still and armature!"

  32. Best reason for learning the French is you're learning a great response for d4 too!

  33. If Bg5, and BxNf3 then white has Qd2 and the black queen is trapped

  34. Just Some Boy Probably Dressed in Corduroy says:

    Really great video. Thank you so much!

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