Introduction to the French Defense ⎸Chess Openings

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The French Defense is one of the deadliest weapons players with black have against 1.e4

The opening starts (ECO codes C00-C19) after the moves:

1.e4 e6 – This is now the French. The second move is almost forced for both sides:
2.d4 d5 (white has been known to avoid the move 2.d4 with 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2, which will most likely transpose into the King’s Indian Attack, but d4 is played in over 95% of games starting with 1.e4 e6)

From this position on white has four main ways to continue:

06:54 3.Nc3 Paulsen Variation C10

Black can respond to the Paulsen French with:
07:21 3…Bb4 Winawer C15 (this one of the most popular variations of the French Defense, especially thanks to the Soviet school of chess which helped develop the theory in the 1940es)
10:04 3…Nf6 Classical C11
4.Bg5 Burn Variation C11
4.e5 Steinitz Variation C11
12:17 3…dxe4 Rubinstein Variation C10
13:00 3…Nc6 (continuing the Paulsen) C10

13:40 3.Nd2 Tarrasch Variation C03 (the Tarrasch became popular in the 70-es and 80-es thanks mainly to Anatoly Karpov who would use it more often than any other variation)
3…Nf6 Closed Variation C05
17:28 3…c5 Tarrasch Open System C07
3…dxe4 (continuing the Tarrasch) C03

18:59 3.e5 Advance Variation C02

19:39 3.exd5 Exchange Variation C01

If you’d like to study the French Defense, the best way to do so is to study the players who use it against e4. Among the first to employ the opening was the great Géza Maróczy (whom the Maróczy bind was named after). The theory was developed in the 20th century and some of the biggest contributors were Mikhail Botvinnik, Viktor Korchnoi, Aaron Nimzowitsch, Tigran Petrosian and Anatoly Karpov. Their games should be studied in order to understand the principles of the French.

Modern players whose games you should study in detail to understand the modern theory: Gata Kamsky, Varuzhan Akobian, Teimour Radjabov, Alexander Morozevich, Alexey Dreev and Simon Williams.


  1. good introduction video for French defense Sir Stephen, can u cover the 3. Be3 move (Schlechter variation)?

  2. I cant define in words how good videos u make. Its mainly because u make a whole playlist not all channels make that.

  3. Would you cover the Schlecter variation for white

  4. Rasha Shokri رشا شكري-حسن الإدارة حياة says:

    Thanks.That is my first video I watch on your channel

  5. Art timestamp 9:22 "White can't take back on d4 because of Qxc2 . . ", it looks like the White Queen defends c2 and can play QxQ. On the other hand, Qc3+ in response to c3xd4 causes White lots of problems. What am I missing???

  6. Well explained, perhaps more thorough than Levi, but watch both. As Stephen is very chill, I recommend watching at 1.25 speed😀

  7. I don’t enjoy the positions from French defense. Thanks for helping me out😁

  8. Playing the exchange French is like ordering a well done steak😁

  9. Great video bro as always thanx for your time and can tell me from where you bring this variations is it from the encyclopedia

  10. Qc2 is losing move because the queen from h7 defends c2.

  11. Could you also make a video in the two knights attack in the french defence?
    I think is a sound opening
    Definately something to surprise
    Thanks a lot
    And keep it up!

  12. Absolutely fantastic production and analysis for beginners like me. Can’t wait to learn opening repertoire from these. It’s absolutely criminal how few subscribers you have

  13. I am trying to figure out how to play against the french. 🙁 Its one opening I really struggle against.

  14. 16:15 Why does black HAVE to take? There's no discovery since queen is under attack and there's no double checks if king goes back to e8. I didn't get it.

  15. Great work Sir Stephen your chess channel is worth every chess players time, thanks for your hardwork.

  16. Thank you I plan to go all the way with the french defence

  17. 9:30 The issue with cxd4 before Ne2 has nothing to do with c2, but with Qc3+

  18. Today Bd3 and the pawn sac on d4 is vey popular. I missed that in your video.

  19. Like this if your preparing for a tournament lol

  20. Cool video! What do you think about this idea for Black in the advance variation: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5.Nf3 Bd7 followed by 6…Bb5 in order to exchange the light squared bishop?

  21. Pozdrav Stjepane, could you please also make a video in the KIA replay to the french defense. Thank you in advance, kind regards.

  22. I think your channel is the best one available on youtube. I don't know why you do not have the most subscribers. Maybe people just want to look at famous game moves without any explanation.

  23. Hi Stjepan, thanks a lot for all your french videos! Although I am player around 2000-2050, to be honest (and shame on me!) I have almost zero openings knowledge… 🙂 so I have been struggling with openings (especially after 1.e4) since I remember… I decided to find out something "sturdy"… it seems to me your videos are quite legit covering all basics and ideas and they could take the thorn out of my heel !!! 🙂 Thanks a lot, buddy! 🙂

  24. You inspired me to play chess .that is so huge .i Love your Channel .you work so hard and i think all chess Players appreciate your Work .keep Up the good Work .

  25. Why do people who dont speak English well insist on making English instructional videos. So dumb.

  26. damn, I forgot how good this guys' videos are, subbed to not forget again!

  27. What does the numbers (C11, C01) means in your videos?

  28. Great video – are you ever going to do an English Opening video?

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