ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
It's been a long time since I've attended to anything offbeat in the French, or even to the King's Indian Attack, which is only infrequently played at the top levels. So I've emphasised those this month, with a couple of recent games in main lines at the end.
Since a number of variations either don't appear each month or don't have good examples each month, I've taken a database from the past six months to see what I could find, and of course put the highest priority on this month's batch, although sadly, there's only one game from 2012!

Download PGN of January '12 French games

>> Previous Update >>

King's Indian Attack [C00]

It's been a while since I looked at the King's Indian Attack. Here's one stemming from 2 Qe2, where both sides have more-or-less done their usual thing:

In Papp - Galyas, Decs 2011, Black delayed castling, something Neil McDonald advocates. I agree with this policy, although Black did play ...0-0 just when he could have secured a queenside advantage. An interesting game.

The 4...Bc5 line is a favourite of mine. In Onischuk - Tovmasian, Kharkiv 2011 , White played the popular 5 c3:

Black played the safe move, and within two moves he stood worse! A little positional trick worth knowing.

Wing Gambit [C00]

The Wing Gambit is an adventurous variation that I've always wanted to believe in but can't quite come around to. It seems to me that White always gets something for the pawn, but usually it's not quite full compensation. Perhaps okay for a gambit by Black, but for White that's not much of an achievement.

Anyway, Fenner - Lueckner, Lieme 2011 tested one of the more balanced lines that you often see at tournaments, where Black plays ...Nh6 at this point and then, assuming that the knight isn't taken, ...Nf5. I don't think this is anywhere near a refutation, but it's pretty solid and leads to interesting play.

3 Bd3 [C01]

Rather like the King's Indian Attack, the 3 Bd3 variation is employed by those who like to play it safe against the French.

This is the most important position. In Pardo Simon- Delgado Ramos, Barcelona 2011, Black tried a method of playing for ...e5 that is surprisingly rare but seems to equalise rather easily. Recently there was another game with the very same setup, but in a different order, and you can find that in the notes.

Classical/Two Knights Variation [C11]

We previously looked at the Classical/Two Knights line 2 Nc3 d5 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 d4 c5 6 dxc5 Nc6 7 Bf4 Bxc5 8 Bd3 f6 9 exf6 in a game Williams-Arkell, in which Black chose 9...Qxf6. This time I'll analyse a couple of games with the traditional (and I think somewhat better) move 9...Nxf6.

Lehtimaki - Kosmo, Porvoo 2011, reached this typical position and Black tried a standard solution. It worked fine, except that it seems best play for both sides is to repeat the position right out of the opening with every piece still on the board! Very strange. Fortunately, Black has a promising early alternative that's been used by some big names.

Ungure - Gazas, Aghios Kirykos 2011, features the same line, but with some different ideas, both in the game and notes. For one thing, I've been looking again at this old solution to what is considered the main line of the variation:

I'm not sure exactly why this isn't considered a kind of refutation of White's play, which would be funny, because the stem game is quite old and periodically published. Then again, who reads books?

Moving on to a 'real' Classical, the recent game Nakamura - Vitiugov, Reggio Emilia 2012, tested a relatively rare idea:

Here Black almost always plays 9...Bxc5, but Vitiugov tries 9...Nxc5. While Nakamura wins a nice game, as far as I can tell Black had several chances to come out well enough out of the opening.

MacCutcheon Variation 6 Be3 [C12]

In the MacCutcheon, the 6 Be3 variation just doesn't go away. I last looked at Moskalenko's favourite move 10...h5 in the June update in the game Hamdouchi- Rivas Pastor, Salou 2011, and things haven't gotten much simpler since:

In Lindberg - Tikkanen, Malmo 2011/12, I've put in a lot of lines including some updated analysis. The game itself is hard-fought, and ends with one of the bravest refusals of a repetition that I've seen in a while!

Till next month, John

>> Previous Update >>

Please post you queries on the French Forum, or subscribers can write to me at if you have any questions or queries.