French Defense – Basic Guide

French Defense is a counter-attacking opening used by the black side. I have been playing french for 10 years and this has been one of my favourite openings. My experience with french has been a decent one. I have had my nice victories as well as painful lessons from it.

Basic Position of French Defense

Concept of the French Defense

French is an addictive opening. Its concepts are so intriguing that it’s difficult to quit this opening once you start it. The basic plan with e6,d5,c5 is to counter white’s centre on d4 and e5 with c5 and f6 pawn breaks respectively. To create activity on c and f file is one of the main ideas of french. To trade black’s light-squared Bishop is a common concept.

Most positions from French Defense lead to unclear and complicated positions. Black creates his play on queenside regularly in every variation of French. Castling can be delayed in french as the position is compact. In variations like Winaver, you can see a lot of games where black does not castle and does a king walk.

Variations in French Defence –

Kings Indian Attack (KIA)

KIA is commonly seen at the club and amateur level. This setup is easy to follow and leads to attacking positions from the white side. This position can be reached by the following move order –

1.e4 – e6   2.d3-d5  3.Nd2-c5  4.Ngf3-Nf6  5.g3-Nc6  6.Bg2-Be7  7.0-0. White waits for Black to castle and then pushes e5 to close the centre and launch an attack on the kingside.

Exchange variation –

This is one of the most unambitious tries from the white side. It is easy to play from both sides but it does not give white many chances to get an advantage. I don’t recommend it to anyone who is reading this article. The move order is –

e4-e6  d4-d5  exd5-exd5. The remaining development of pieces can be done according to the understanding of the player.

Classical French Defense

The classical system is one of the most popular variations from the white side as it has a good score. Black generally struggles to trade off his only weakness which is the c8 Bishop and suffers an endgame with Bad Bishop. If he manages to exchange it then black is more than comfortable in arising positions.

This position arises from the following move order –

e4-e6  d4-d5  Nc3-Nf6  e5-Nd7  f4-c5  Nf3-Nc6  Be3.  Black’s complete play is on the queenside.

Winaver French Defense

Winaver according to me is by far the most complicated variation in french. Black has a variety of sub-variations which lead to a different pace of positions. Some are slow while some are razor sharp. Black gives up his dark-squared bishop to damage white’s pawn structure. So this leads to imbalances which lead to decisive games. Move order –

e4-e6  d4-d5  Nc3-Bb4 e5-c5  a3-Bxc3 bxc3.

Advance Variation –

Advance variation is the basic variation against french. I feel it is underrated as it is not seen quite often but has a lot of chances to strive for advantage. Here black perfectly exerts pressure on d4 with c5 pawn break and e5 with f6 pawn break. The only problem for black is king safety in a few lines. Move order of Advance variation is –

e4-e6 d4-d5 e5-c5 c3-Nc6 Nf3-Qb6.

3.Nd2-Nf6 Tarrasch Variation

The 3.Nd2-Nf6 variation is a very interesting variation. It has a lot of imbalanced positions. White has positional triumphs while black relies on attacking prospects. Move order is –

e4-e6 d4-d5 Nd2-Nf6 e5-Nfd7 Bd3-c5 c3-Nc6 Ne2-cxd4 cxd4-f6 exf6-Nxf6. Watch out for Rxf3 sacrifices in this line!

3.Nd2-c5 Tarrasch.

3.Nd2-c5 Tarrasch often takes the game to IQP positions. As there is a specific chapter on IQP, you need to study it well before playing with black. The margin of error for black is considerably high here.

Move order – e4-e6 d4-d5 Nd2-c5 exd5-exd5 Ngf3-Nc6 Bb5-Bd6 0-0-Nge7 dxc5-Bxc5 Nb3-Bd6 c3-0-0 Bd3. White has a pleasant position and can enjoy playing against the IQP.


These all were the main lines in French Defense. Will be coming up with an article on the sidelines as well. Yes, I do consider KIA as a mainline!

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Learn chess opening with this procedure

Learning chess opening is a very difficult task. There are many procedures to learn chess opening. But in this article I will tell you the perfect method to learn any chess openings. You can become a master from a beginner by applying these skills without any coaching.

If you have any coach who is teaching you then you don’t have to worry about preparation. He can help you with it. But if you are an individual player who cannot afford a coach or proper resources is not available, then you will find many difficulties

Why learning opening is a must?

leaning chess openings is a must for every player. If you don’t know openings properly then you will lose instantly. If you are playing serious chess then you know how difficult it is to play without proper opening knowledge.

learning opening helps you to beat your opponent faster and in a smoother way. The opening is a key part of the game and hence opening study is very important.

Step by step guide to learn chess opening

  1. Select your favorite opening – For selecting openings there are various criteria. If you filter with that criteria then you will find that it is very easy to prepare chess openings. Chess is so beautiful game and learning openings are way more beautiful than you expect. The first criteria are to find out which type of player you are. If you are an attacking player then you have to choose openings that are open and don’t allow many exchanges. If you like to defend then you must select openings that are closed. If you are good in middlegame then you have to choose openings that allow multiple exchanges and get your position into the easy endgame.
  2. Buy a DVD/book – To study openings you have to purchase books or DVDs. There are plenty of books which are available in the market to study. Also, there are a lot of websites that provide online material. Books and DVDs generally range from $30-$100.
    Choose a book of a top grandmaster or at least titled player. Dont purchase any random book. Study that book or DVD by heart and then follow the next procedure. You can get a lot of books from the following websites
    1- New in chess
    2- Thinkers Publications
    3- Quality chess 
    Online courses
    3- chessable 
  3. Save notes and opening variations – After doing this full study, then you have to take notes or study your variations in that opening. Here is the procedure. First, take notes and highlight them in the book. Then download this free ChessBase reader software and play with it. Then create a database on this software and your notes there.
    Also, you can save your whole book if you have time. Also, download stockfish 13 which is a free and open-source engine.
  4. Watch various games – Watching various games will help you much. You can watch games from the ChessBase reader app only. Just open a new board and press enter key then you will find millions of game databases. You can make your moves and games will automatically get filtered.
    There are multiple other websites from which you can watch top players’ games. Watching games will help you to develop your gameplay.
  5. Play online games and practice – Play online games and prepare it the key to success. Once you learned chess opening in deep then just start playing a lot of online games on and These are the best websites to play chess online.
    Analyze these games by heart and learn from mistakes. Try to stick to only one opening and if possible then only one variation. This will help you a lot. After analysis, save this game on your computer. When you will play the OTB tournament then it will be much easy to study by doing this.

Hope you enjoyed this step-by-step guide. If you enjoyed then don’t forgot to share this article.

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Scandinavian Defense – Basic Guide

Are you bored of the mainstream theory in Sicilian, Italian, Ruy Lopez or Carokann? Are you looking forward to playing some creative chess and at the same time you want imbalances, then try out the Scandinavian defense. Scandinavian is also known as centre-counter. It is an opening based on creating imbalances in pawn structure and going for a slightly odd approach from the start.

Concept of Scandinavian Defense –

From the above file, you can see that Black is instantly challenging white in the centre. However, in chapter 2 and 3 white gets a good lead in development in the main lines. This opening also leads mostly to opposite side castlings. Black has a strategy to trade his light-squared bishop for the knight on f3 and then put his pawns on c6 and e6 to get a solid structure.

In chapter 4 we can see that black goes for sharp complications based on pawn sacrifice which allows him to get the upper hand in development. This makes it the turning factor in most of the games. It is suitable for players who love sacrifice and initiative.

Top players have played Scandinavian Defense –

Players like Current World Champion Magnus Carlsen, former World Champion Vishwanathan Anand, Hikaru Nakamura, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Firoujza Alireza, Jan-Duda Krystof. Magnus used it in Tata Steel Kolkata rapid and blitz against Anand and Nepomniatchtchi to score 2/2. Even Anand used it against Garry Kasparov in their 1995 PCA world championship match!

Another player who played Scandinavian against the player from Scandinavia world champion Magnus Carlsen and also had him on ropes was Bhaskaran Adhiban. He played an interesting game and also went for complications which had almost yielded him full point. But as he missed his chance, he couldn’t win the game.

Do check out the videos below to improve your knowledge on Scandinavian Defense.

Do inform your experience with Scandinavian Defense in the comments section.


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London System – Basic guide

Hello everyone! We received a few comments which demanded an article on opening from the white side. Articles of openings from the black side can be found at the end of the article. So today, I plan to suggest the London system from the white side. What is the London system? Why is it so popular? for which level is it suitable? All these questions will be answered during the article.

My experience with the London system –

London system was taught to me by my coach Prakash Gujrathi Sir in 2009. The ideas in the London setup back then and ideas in the London system currently differ a lot. When I was learning the London system, I considered it as a perfect set-up as I got all my pieces out and it would give me an easy attack on the black king.

I got very good results in the London system. Later I started with more mainstream lines like Catalan etc. Whenever I played London system, It used to either give me strong attacking prospects or lead to a favourable endgame! Later when I switched back to London in 2016-17 I saw World Champion and World No.1, Magnus Carlsen, using it in World Rapid and Blitz championships.

Reasons why I like the London setup –

London system is a very systematic opening with all the pieces getting out quite quickly and also the fact that white always has an opportunity to castle on both sides. My usual style is attacking and to the extent of ELO 1600, this can be considered as an attacking setup.

Trends in the London setup –

Earlier London system was used as an attacking opening, then came a point from 2006-2014 where if white wanted a draw he used to opt for this setup. Post-2015 white has come up with a lot of new ideas which give white fighting chances. It is easy to misjudge the power and potential of this opening.

Top exponents of London system –

Starting with none other than the current World Champion Magnus Carlsen, followed by Gata Kamsky, Alireza Firoujza, Nihal Sarin, and many more. Magnus used it to win the World Rapid championship by beating Hikaru Nakamura. GM Gata Kamsky is a pioneer of this opening, I was fortunate to once face him in a blitz game on Lichess where he employed the same London system.

Let’s look at what the set-up is?

Above is the general set-up of the London setup. Here if you see, white has developed all his Minor pieces and is ready to castle on any of the sides. I have a friend who had a bad habit of moving the same piece until that piece got captured. So to break his habit I taught him the London setup and he achieved around 1500 ELO in rapid in the following 2 months!

Plans –

Once you achieve the basic position of the London setup, you can first decide whether to castle short and play according to the position or castle long and create imbalance.

Another plan is to play for e4 break and continue exchanging pieces followed by an attack on the kingside.

The setup is very solid. You can keep your king in the centre and play! I am not kidding here, I have played a lot of rapid games with success. I kept King in the centre and went for a quick all-out attack on the king side.



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Nimzo Indian Defence – DVD recommendation

Continuing with our Nimzo Indian Defence series, today I am sharing my experience about how I prepared Nimzo Indian Defence. So as mentioned in one of the articles from this series, Spassky – Fischer game was an inspiration but that wasn’t sufficient to play Nimzo Indian. I needed some material to rely on, I lacked material but got Nimzo Indian Defence by Jacob Aagaard. I followed the concepts taught by him. But I realized it was a bit old and wanted some new data to study.

My experience with this DVD

I saw The Lifetime Repertoire by Rustam Kasimdzhanov. I really loved the data in it, he has given a very easy to remember and comparatively similar ideas to every variation. He has considered all the tricky options mentioned from the white side and also given options which lead to dynamic positions with all 3 results possible. This did suit my style so I enjoyed studying lines from it and also implementing it in my games.

The Instructive games section also provides a lot of instructive games which helped me understand Nimzo Indian better. The tests section boosts one’s confidence and helps you recall the ideas.

Lines covered after 1. D4 – Nf6 2. C4 – e6 3. Nc3 – Bb4.


  1. f3 – The saemisch
  2. e3 – The Rubinstein
  3. Nf3 – The Kasparov Variation
  4. Qc2 – The classical.
  5. Sidelines

Interesting games

The Interesting games section has 4 games covered in it. The games are moderately annotated and well explained –

  1. Bai Jinshi – Ding Liren
  2. Alexie Shirov – Anatoly Karpov
  3. Boris Spassky – Bobby Fischer
  4. Golod – Rustam Kasimdzhanov.


You can get this DVD on ChessBase India shop. The cost is just Rs 1178/-. You can check it from here.

I will be coming up with Players to follow in Nimzo Indian in the coming articles. I hope I was able to contribute to your knowledge. Do comment what you would love to know in Nimzo Indian.



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