Sunday, September 1, 2013

French Advance, refuting IM John Watson

IM John Watson offers a series of videos on ICC giving a repertoire for Black, recommending the French against 1.e4.  Like most repertoire providers, he is just too glib in some lines about "his side's" advantages, usually couching it as better "practical chances".  In particular, he has left out White's best line in response to one of his recommendations in the French Advance, which I can't let stand, thus this post.

Here is the video:

free preview (first 5 minutes)

full video (requires ICC membership)

The line in question is the f6 response to White's a3:  1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.a3 f6, where I am maintaining that the best response is 7.b4, which Watson begins analyzing in earnest at 7:48 in the video, and against which he recommends 7...fxe5 (at 8:49).  Here I am  maintaining that the best White response is 8.bxc5 which Watson covers starting at 13:43, recommending 8...Qa5 pinning the c3 pawn thus undermining d4.  Watson is correct that e5 now must be taken, but he only considers dxe5 and completely misses White's best response, 9.Nxe5!

The line then goes 9...Nxe5 10.dxe5 Bxc5 11.Qg4! (the point of getting the f3 knight off).  The most natural defense is now 11...g6, and the line goes 12.Bd3 Ne7 13.O-O O-O 14.Bg5 followed by Bf6 and Ra2, a very solid position for White.  If Black tries to defend g7 instead with 11...Qc7, she runs into 12.Bb5+!, another result of having the knights off.  Black, most unnaturally, can also let g7 go for counterplay against f2, where with perfect play by Black, White only gets a perpetual:  11...Ne7 12.Qxg7 Rf8 13.Ra2 Rf7 14.Qg4 Qb6 15.Rb2 Bxf2+ 16.Kd1 Qc7 17.Bb5+ Bd7 18.Qxe6 Bxb5 19.Rxb5 Qc4 20.Rb4 Qd3+ 21.Nd2 Rc8 22.Rxb7 Qxc3 23.Rxe7+ Rxe7 24.Qg8+ Kd7 25.Qxd5+ Ke8 26.Qg8+.

Finally, if Black declines the knight exchange after 9.Nxe5 trying for Watson's "big center", she can sac that pawn and get a restricting c6-d5-e4 chain (ironically somewhat the mirror of White's earlier advance chain) via 9...Nf6 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Bd3 e5 12.O-O e4 13.Be2.  But there is no further rolling and the position is very good for White.

So Mr. Watson, if you're reading have you addressed this line perhaps in another video?  (I haven't looked through all of them.)  If not, maybe you should at some point.  :-)

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