Simon Williams: Attacking with the French

As anyone who has picked up one knows, the new “Attacking Chess” series of books by everyman are fantastic repertoire manuals filled with interesting ideas and analysis. Hopefully, there will be more coming out soon. As readers of this blog know, Simon Williams is a bit of a hero of mine, so when I saw that he had written a book on the French I snapped up a copy posthaste. (His book on the Classical Dutch blew my mind. Also, for those of you who are interested, GM Williams has a blog! And from perusing it, I found out that he is working on two dvd’s on the Sicilian Dragon!!- can. not. wait.)

In any case, his book on the French has a few interesting ideas. Against the 3.Nd2 he gives 3 chapters worth of lines after 3…Nf6. However, since I prefer to play 3…c5, I skipped that portion of the book. His chapter on the exchange has some great games that I dare say make me excited to face the exchange. Typically, the French exchange leads to either symmetrical or mostly lifeless positions, where one side is merely waiting for the other to make a gross blunder. Naturally, for this exact reason it is wildly popular at the sub 2200 level.

The formula presented in this game is predicated on the awesome idea 9…Bf4. Once black controls so many squares on the kingside of the board, he is able to play 0-0-0 without much worry and launch a pawn avalanche. For anyone who is looking to play the French, this idea is worth its weight in gold! The exchange variation is common among players who don’t wish to take any risks and are hoping for a simple game of chess- this attacking formula is anything but, and is sound enough to work against the likes of Kasparov…

In the chapter on the Advance Variation, which is the first chapter in the book, Williams builds his repertoire around the less common 5…Bd7 instead of the mainline 5…Qb6. While I am not fully convinced by some of his double edged recommendations in this chapter, there are many ideas that did convince that 5…Bd7 offers interesting alternatives to the mainlines. Almost always, this move is played with the plan of opening the position with the break f6.

In the following game, white attempts a Milner-Barry gambit, only to find that it is black who be the one to gambit- and a knight at that.

Highly recommended! here.