The French Defense – Chess Openings with GM Damian Lemos

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The French Opening is a semi-closed chess opening for Black which occurs after the moves 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5. The opening got its name in 1834 in honor of several French players who used it in a correspondence match between the cities of London and Paris.

The French Defense is one of the most trusted openings in chess, popular at all levels from beginner to strong grandmasters.

It has been used in the past by Mikhail Botvinnik, Viktor Korchnoi, Tigran Petrosian, Rafael Vaganian and Wolfgang Uhlmann, among others, but also by many leading grandmasters today. Wesley So, Ding Liren and Alexander Morozevich all regularly rely on the French Defense as one of their major opening weapons and thus make its high reliability evident.

In The French Defense, Black starts to fight for the center from the very beginning and creates a very solid e6-d5 pawn chain there.

The main problem of this opening is the limited c8 bishop. However, there are numerous plans that may help Black to activate his light-squared bishop in the later stage of the game, as GM Damian Lemos shows in this video.

Playing the French Defense can be a vital alternative for all Black players who are tired of repeatedly entering the highly theoretical terrain of all the absolute main lines such as the sharp Open Sicilians or the Ruy Lopez.

Also, playing the French Defense does not force you to learn an endless amount of theory. It’s much more important to know the key strategic ideas and plans.

Moreover, it is fairly flexible and enables you to become a very versatile player. The French Defense surprises us with the variety of pawn structures that may arise and you can vary within your pet opening, making it tough for your opponents to prepare against you.

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