How to beat french defense

How to beat French Defense

French Defense is the 3rd most popular chess opening against e4. It’s always challenging to select a proper chess opening against French Defense, especially in must-win situations. In this article, we will see various ways on How to beat French Defense.

How to beat French Defense?

In French Defense, it was difficult to exploit blacks’ weaknesses. Although, white gets very comfortable position since opening. When someone plays french defense against you, you have to play a long game. To beat the french defense, you have to choose aggressive openings; If you decide on openings like Exchange Variation, you lose the probability of winning. The best opening to beat French Defense is King’s Indian Attack.

It’s very easy to play with and very sharp. If you are playing against below 2000 chess players, you will mostly win from white. You need to remember a few plans and some theories. Various other options against French Defense are also sufficient to play aggressive chess.

We have written an entire article about the Most Aggressive chess openings for white which you can read by clicking here.

Best openings to beat French Defense

1- Chigorin Variation

In the chigorin variation, white plays 2.Qe2. White’s main plan is to prevent Black’s second move, d5. However, the Chigorin variation is not the best choice for everyone. There are some lines in which Black gets easy drawing chances. But for below 2000 chess players, It is highly recommended to play Chigorin Variation. 

FM NIkhil Dixit created an amazing chess course on Chogorin Defense which you can check out here.

2- Advance Variation

Advance Variation is one of the most popular chess openings against French Defense. In Advance Variation, white try to keep their pawn chain solid and try to play in the center. Black also has few plans. Generally, advance variation is a slow opening in which white don’t get any immediate chances, but white eventually gets a better position.

The following youtube video will help you to understand concepts of advance variation.

3- King’s Indian Attack

This is my recommendation. King’s Indian Attack is by far the strongest chess opening to beat the french defense. It’s very easy to play and also easy to prepare. You can watch a few videos, and you are good to go. 

The main plan in King’s Indian Attack is to start an attack on the black king. White develops bishop from g2 and then does short castle. After some point, it gets tricky for Black to manage whites’ attacks. 

4 Tips for playing against French Defense

  1. Attack on the queenside: One common way to counter the French Defense is to launch an attack on the queenside. This can be done by advancing your pawns on the queenside and bringing your pieces to bear on the Black kingside.
  2. Play for a central break: Another option is to play for a central break with d4 or e4. This can help you establish a strong center and put pressure on Black’s position.
  3. Look for weaknesses: As in any chess game, it’s important to look for weaknesses in your opponent’s position. In the French Defense, Black’s pawn on e6 can be a potential weakness, especially if it is isolated or backward. You can also look for opportunities to attack Black’s king or create tactical threats.
  4. Know your openings: It’s important to study and understand the various variations of the French Defense and the typical plans and ideas for both sides. This will help you choose the best approach and know how to respond to your opponent’s moves.


Is the French Defense Drawish?

No. French Defense is not a drawish opening. Both players get various chances in every Variation of french defense. Certain variations, such as advance variation, are completely drawish. In general, if white decides to play safe from opening in any opening, white can achieve a draw. 

If you are playing french from Black, you can choose aggressive openings such as Winawer variation. 

Is Caro-Kann better than French Defense?

There are various advantages and disadvantages of playing Caro Kann and french defense. One of the major differences is the basic structure. Many people think that Caro Kann and French Defense are very close to each other. This is not the right case. They are completely different. In Caro Kann’s opening, Black opens his light square bishop and gets some active chances. In the french defense, black tries to attack the queen’s side in many lines. 

French is usually a safe option to play, and Caro Kann is more aggressive. Both openings have their own pros and cons. On the top level, people choose Caro Kann more than french. 

Do GMs play the French?

Yes! Many grandmasters got their GM title by only playing French Defense. Following is the list of grandmasters who play French Defense. We also have written a special article on players who play French Defense which you can read here.

  • Alexander Morozevich
  • Pentala Harikrishna 
  • Nikita Vitiugov 
  • Emmanuel Berg
  • Surya Shekhar Ganguly
  • Dmitrij Kollars


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