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The French Defence from the publisher "Russian Chess"

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Title: The French Defence Author: Alexander Kalinin
Language: English Pages: 261
Cover: Hardcover Published: 2003
Publisher: Russian Chess House Homepage:
Price: 14,95 ISBN: 5-94693-004-4
Reviewed by: Pelle Bank Date: 15/5 2003

The French Defence

A countless number of books has been written on the French Defence. But this one deserves special attention. It is a book for stronger club players with theoretical ambitions. From a theoretical point of view it is a collection of the most important games in the French during the last 30 years. The reader get a clear impression of the modern theoretical situation without "drowning" in the flood of opening information.

The book contains 401 top grandmaster games. All milestones on the road of modern opening theory. The games are carefully picked by the Russian grandmaster Alexander Kalinin, who has provided them with notes and analysis. Like in Sahovski Informator there is not a single written word in the book, only a code system to guide the reader: + - , !? etc.



1) Exchange Variation  (12 pages)
2) 3.e5 Variation  (33 pages)
3) Rubinstein Variation  (22 pages)
4) 3. Nd2 Variation  (75 pages)
5) 4. Nc3 Variation  (89 pages)
6) Index, 50 Positions, Contents  (27 pages)

The book does not favour White or Black. The games simply paint a picture of the present theoretical situation in The French Defence. GM Alexander Kalinin has chosen to focus on the main variations. That means that some of the more rare lines are only briefly discussed and some are left out like:

  • 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Nf3 c5 6.c4!?
  • 1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.b4!?
  • 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd Qxd5 5.Ngf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Nb3 Nc6 9.Qe2!? Be7 10.Rd1

It is a matter of taste, whether lines like these should be mentioned or not. They are played occasionally but rarely at the highest level.


French Defence 3.Nd2

Unlike most book on the French Defence 3.Nd2 plays a major part. One of the highly theoretical variations is:

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Ngf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Nb3 Nc6 9.Nbxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 a6 11.Re1 Qc7 12.Bb3 Bd6 13.Nf5 Bxh2+ 14.Kh1 0-0 15.Nxg7 Rd8 16.Qf3 Kxg7 17.Bh6+ Kg6 18.c3

The author gives a few examples. Black has tried 18...Nd5, 18...e5 and 18...Nh5. At the moment the lines are considered unclear according to Kalinin after:

18...Nh5! 19.Bc1!! Bf4! 20.g4 Ng3+! 21.fxg3 Bxc1 22.Raxc1 b6 23.Bc2+ Kg7 24.Be4 Ra7 25.Rc2 Bb7 26.Rh2 Bxe4 27.Qxe4 Qb7 28.Rxh7+ Kg8 29.Qxb7 Rxb7 30.Rh2 Rd3

This is NOT a beginners book. It does not even try to explain the key ideas in The French. It is mainly an outstanding tool for stronger players, who likes to study theory. I believe that Alexander Kalinin has done an excellent job collecting  the most important theoretical games in the history of the Defence.

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