08 August 2013

Attacking d4 in the French Defense

In the French Defense, Black attacks White's pawn on d4. If White replaces the pawn with a piece, Black often attacks that as well. This game played on the iPhone illustrates how White's game quickly suffers when d4 is not protected well.

Internet Opponent -- Stripes,J [C02]
Chess Time (iPhone) 07.08.2013

1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.d4 Qb6

White to move

Qb6 is a common move that usually is played a few moves later. With this move, Black immediately pressures d4.


This move is a tactical and positional error. Black is attacking d4, and White ignores the threat. In the French, Advance variation, White needs a pawn on c3 to protect the base of the central pawn chain.

5.Bd3 is worth considering. In an email game, Black gained nothing with 5...c4. It is generally best to defer this move until White has castled queenside. Black's counterplay nearly always requires flexibility and mobility for the queenside pawns. 6.Be2 Nc6 7.c3 f6 8.exf6 Nxf6 9.b3 cxb3 10.axb3 Bd6 11.0–0 0–0 12.Ba3 Bxa3 13.Nxa3 Bd7 14.Bd3 Rae8 15.Re1 a6 16.Ne5 Nxe5 17.dxe5 Ne4 18.Bxe4 dxe4 19.Qxd7 Qxf2+ 20.Kh1 b5 21.Qc6 e3 22.h3 e2 23.Nc2 Rd8 24.Nd4 Qxe1+ 25.Rxe1 Rf1+ 26.Kh2 Rxe1 27.Qxe6+ Kh8 28.Kg3 Rf8 29.Qxa6 h5 30.Qxb5 h4+ 31.Kxh4 Rf4+ 32.Kh5 1–0 Turner,L -- Weiss,F email 2008.


5...Nc6 is more accurate.

6.Nxd4 Bb4N

6...Bd7 7.Be3 Qxb2 8.Ncb5 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Bxb5 10.Nxb5 Qxe5+ 11.Be2 Bxd2+ 12.Kxd2 a6 13.Re1 Qf4+ 14.Kc3 axb5 15.Bxb5+ Nc6 16.Rxe6+ fxe6 0–1 Liwa,L -- Marcos,J (2200) Port Moresby 2003.


This move is a frequent idea against the French. However, in this game, it is rooted in failure to understand the demands of the position.

7.Bd3!? Bd7= (7...Qxd4?? 8.Bb5+ Bd7 9.Qxd4+-).


The queen does not threaten g7 because she must protect d4.

8.Bd2? h5

Already, Black has a clear advantage.

White to move


9.Qf4 Ng6 10.Qe3-/+.


White is lost.

10.Qg5 Qxd4 11.0–0–0 Qxe5 12.Qxe5 Nxe5 13.Nb5

Black to move

c7 is often a weakness in the French. White's errors gave Black an early attack, but now some defensive moves are necessary to maintain the advantage.

13...Bxd2+ 14.Rxd2 Na6 15.Nd6+ Ke7 16.Nxc8+ Rhxc8 17.Be2 Nb4 18.Kb1



Black's attack is strong. The knights and rooks are well-coordinated for action on the queenside.

White to move


19.Bxc4 was better. As long as White places targets on d4, Black will attack.

19...e5 20.Rh4?

The rook is not the main target, however. Black is after the king.


20...Nd2+ 21.Kc1 

21.Ka1 Nxc2#

21...Rxc2+ 22.Kd1 Ne4 23.Rf1 

Black to move


23...Rac8 was the correct move.


24.Ke1 Nc2#

24...Rc8+ 25.Kb1 Rcc2 26.Bxh5 Rxb2+ 0-1

Black plans 27.Ka1 (27.Kc1 Nxa2#) 27...Nc3 28.Rxb4 Rxa2#.

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