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FM Alisa Melekhina – Stunning Your Opponent in the 9.Nbd2 Gambit


Are you looking for a solid chess opening for White when facing off against the popular French Defense? In this video, FIDE Master Alisa Melekhina specifically explores the Advanced variation of the French Defense, and the relatively unexplored gambit line where White plays 9. Nbd2. Melekhina analyses two of her own games that she played, and won, at the World Junior’s Chess Championship U20s held in Poland, 2010, showing how this gambit line is a viable option for White, playing for a win.

This rare 9. Nbd2 line produces powerful positions for White, rich with tactical opportunities. Being a variation Black won’t encounter regularly in the French Defense, the opportunity is there to stun your opponent. It’s reminiscent of another chess opening, the c3 Sicilian, where White utilizes a double-bishop piece attack coupled with a strong pawn on e5. The main game and its accompanying exciting sample miniatures demonstrate the typical themes and ideas of the opening.

Even if you don’t like playing gambit lines, this is useful information to know when facing Sicilian players. After, for example, 1. e4 c5 2. c3 e6 3. d4 d5, White can choose to play 4. e5 (instead of 4. exd5), transposing into the French Defense. Pushing a Sicilian player into the French can already give White a psychological edge over the opponent.

Why 9. Ndb2? White then has the choice to bring the knight to the b3 square, or to recapture on f3. White sacrifices a pawn in exchange for rapid development and devastating control of the c-file – excellent compensation. What’s more, just a few inaccuracies from Black can fatally expose their King and give White a decisive advantage in less than 25 moves. This line serves as a good, practical alternative in open tournaments where Black is likely to be caught off-guard.

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