French Defence

The French defence is a Black defence starting with e6 that can be played against e4 or d4. Although it has somewhat of a reputation as a passive defence, it is actually often played by extremely tactical masters. There are numerous lines of counter-attack and great tactical complications.

Diagram: French Defence Basic Position

The French defence is usually played against e4. The opening moves are typically:

  1. 1. e4 e6
  2. 2. d4 d5

Transposition from the Queen Pawn Games

The French defence can also be played against d4 with:

  • 1. d4 e6

White can then choose between playing e4 and the French Defence, or c4 and playing a Queens Pawn Opening such as a Queens Gambit after Black plays d5 (or perhaps Black plays a Nimzo-Indian with Nf6 or Franco-Indian with Bb4+).

Main French Variations

The sub-variations of the French Defence include:

The French defence is one of the Black moves with the best records against e4. Although it is not as popular as the Sicilian Defence, it probably deserves to be more popular.

Anti-French Lines for White

Some of the anti-French openings include:

Read more about: Anti-French Lines.