Winawer French Chess

Aleksandar Randjelovic

Exploring Winawer French: 4...b6 sideline

Intro to the rare Winawer French line from Black's perspective.

I stood confused after seeing the game played by Kasparov and Ivanchuk, where White, the best player in the world, got completely outplayed in only 30 moves - in the French Defense! I wondered, what kind of French Defense is this? Should I employ the same system? If the best player on the planet couldn't handle it and ended up so convincingly defeated, why not try the same as Black?

This variation arises after White's 3. Nc3, inviting either the Classical (Steinitz variation) or the Winawer. We opt for the Winawer variation, but after 4. e5, instead of the main line 4...c5, we play 4...b6.

It looks passive, but it may actually be a clever idea, as Black retains the option to retreat the important bishop to f8! Yes, undeveloping the bishop to f8 is a feature of this variation!

The game and the variation are not full of sacrifices. It is not that kind of beauty. But it is full of subtle moves, where every tempo counts and can easily be lost. This means the variation may pay off for someone who plays it for years and understands all the subtleties and nuances of this kind of French Defense.

Here is the game I mentioned and used as a model in the video:

And here is the video:

Note that this video lesson is a bit slower, and may not be suitable for those looking for fun, hyped chess content.

It is primarily made for players of beginner and intermediate levels, but it may also be good for advanced players if they stay patient through the parts where simpler concepts are explained.