Chess Opening Theory/1. e4/1...e6/2. d4/2...d5

French Defence
 a b c d e f g h 8 8 7 7 6 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 a b c d e f g h
Position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN)
Moves: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5

French Defence

By advancing the d-pawn two squares, Black poses an immediate challenge to the powerful white center. White has a number of responses:

3. Nc3: There is a large amount of complex theory behind this move. Black has many possible answers, including 3...Bb4 (the Winawer Variation), which leads to extremely complex positions (which are usually closed).

3. e5 (Advance Variation): White advances the pawn and puts immediate pressure on Black's kingside, but Black will be more than capable of putting the pawn wedge under serious attack with moves like c5, Nc6, Qb6, and Nf5 after Nh6.

3. Nd2 (Tarrasch Variation): This is less common than 3. Nc3, as it blocks the bishop on c1 and does not put any pressure on d5. It is much safer but also less ambitious and harder to get an advantage with. Black has two main options here: they can play 3...Nf6 to force 4. e5 and then attack the pawn wedge at both base and head with the breaks c5 and f6, or they can play 3...c5, eventually ending up with active pieces while dealing with an isolated d-pawn.

3. exd5 (Exchange Variation): This is unambitious and gives Black equal chances, but it avoids the complications of the other variations.

Theory table

For explanation of theory tables, see theory table and for notation, see algebraic notation.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5
3 4
French Defence (Main Line) Nc3
Nf6
Bg5
Be7
=
Tarrasch Variation Nd2
Nf6
e5
Nfd7
=