Aggressive Repertoire Against the French Defence - Part 2
The name of the Former World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov is known by every chess amateur and professional.
Today, he brings his analytical and practical experience to the table in this database, which is a White repertoire versus the French Defense based on the most ambitious continuation 3.Nc3!
This is the second part of the repertoire – in Part 1, he analyzed 3...dxe4 and 3...Nf6.
In this database, Ruslan covers such sidelines as 3...Nc6 and 3...h6 before moving on to the dreaded Winaver Variation 3...Bb4.
His current work consists of 9 theoretical chapters and 2 model games that would allow you to deepen your positional understanding of the standard plans, ideas and manoeuvres while also recalling and learning the tactical nuances. Additionally, in the Test Section, you will find 15 interactive test positions.
The first chapter deals with the positions after 3...Nc6 (diagram) as well as 3...h6.
While those moves might seem silly, there are, in fact, rather interesting – White really has to know what he is doing!
Let's hear Ruslan's recollection on how he got acquainted with the former line:
“This move might look silly and bad, but things aren't as simple at all!
Back in 2008, I played in the Russian league where this line was introduced to me by IM Vladimir Kosyrev. I had suffered a painful loss versus my countryman Ivanchuk and was supposed to face Svidler with the Black pieces the next day.
I was not in a good mood to prepare and repeat tons of theory. Somehow, during our traditional team's meeting, Vladimir convinced me to play his pet line with 3...Nc6 in the French Defense.”
Importantly, Ruslan's goal is not to just show you a bunch of theoretical lines. Instead, he discusses alternatives, various arising structures, etc, as he firmly believes this is what will help you get great results and become a better player overall.
In the second chapter, the author discusses the line 3...Bb4 4.e5 b6!? As well as 4...Qd7!?
Those moves are likely to end up transposing one into another and are rather idea-based overall. GM Ponomariov shares his impressions about how he got to analyse this line:
“I was inspired by a famous victory of my compatriot V.Ivanchuk versus G.Kasparov when he crushed White exactly in this line.
You don't get to beat the World Champion with the Black pieces in a very beautiful manner where the decisive move happens to be short castling all that often, after all!»
In fact, Ruslan even gave this line a try himself at a recent Grand Prix in 2019 with the Black pieces. So, he is extremely well-qualified to explain the subtleties.
The third chapter focuses on another rare yet important variation 3...Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Ba5!?
As Ruslan explains, “This line was played by Botvinnik in the World Championship match and later popularized by the Armenian legends Vaganian and Lputian.
I used to think it was nearly refuted, however as of late Black managed to come up with a bunch of fresh ideas that brought a spark of life in this variation once again.”
The 4th chapter is focused on the position after 3...Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Nc6!? which is another relatively infrequent possibility.
Again, Ponomariov has so much experience with it!
“I was introduced to this line by a Ukrainian GM Kruppa when both of us used to live in Kiev.
It is fairly similar to the variation 6...Qa5 7.Bd2 Qa4, and in fact, there can be quite some transpositions from one variation to the other one.
I managed to achieve rather impressive results even versus super-GMs in this line, which, I believe, is related to the psychological reasons as well: the arising positions are quite original, not everyone feels comfortable in these closed structures.”
Finally, the 5th chapter covers the position after the sequence 6...Qa5 7.Bd2 Qa4 which was mentioned in the previous quote.
In the 6th chapter covers the move 6...Qc7 followed by 7...f5.
As Ponomariov explains, “This is the favourite line of Predrag Nikolic. Black wants to defend the g7-pawn by moving his f-pawn up and protecting the g7-pawn with the queen.”
The 7th chapter includes an analysis of one of the most important variations in the French 3...Bb4 – the Poisoned Pawn variation after 6...Qc7 7.Qg4 Ne7.
Chapter 8 covers the line 6...Ne7 which was recently advocated by Nepo during the Candidates Tournament of 2020.
Finally, the last 9th chapter provides an analysis of the line 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 c5 (which is the same deal as the previous chapter where the move order 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3 6.bxc3 Ne7 is used), the difference being that in the 8th chapter Ruslan suggests 7.h4 which he likes best, while in the 9th chapter he helps us enrich our understanding by also discussing the move 7.Qg4.
After the theoretical chapters, Ruslan provides two model games which will help you to get a better feeling of the key plans and ideas.
The database ends with 15 interactive test positions which are designed to improve your understanding of the theory.