Advancing Against the French Defense with GM Jesse Kraai

One opening has been frustrating 1.e4 players for nearly 200 years.

It looks timid, blocks in a piece, and is generally anti-positional.

I have never in my life played the French Defense, which is the dullest of all openings.”

Wilhelm Steinitz, First World Chess Champion

But, as many have discovered, the French is a tough nut to crack. Both Fischer and Kasparov (in their early days) employed offbeat ways to avoid the main lines in the French as they just weren’t getting anywhere.

If you play 1.e4, you NEED a system to beat the French or your results will suffer.

Grandmaster Jesse Kraai’s new 6½-hour course teaches you how to play the Advance variation like a master. This video is an exclusive preview from his course, Advancing Against the French.

Why Play the French Defense Advance Variation?

When a chess player sits down to learn a new chess opening, they are often thinking about an immediate, practical result. What often gets missed, however, is that the opening itself is not going to make you that much of a better player. What really improves your game is developing a deeper positional understanding.

One of the good things about playing the Advance variation against the French (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5) is that we always get the same structure, forcing us to deal right away with the concept of space:

French Defense Advance Variation
French Defense Advance Variation

When the pawn is still on e4, it is battling with Black’s pawn on d5 for control of the center.

When you play 3.e5, you have actually surrendered a lot of the center to Black, even though it might not feel that way. Black now controls the d5 and e4 squares vigorously.

White is looking beyond the center and instead claims space.

What are the practical advantages of choosing to play the French Defense Advance variation as White?

First, the Advance Variation is not played very often. GM Kraai, a French player himself, has only faced this variation perhaps around 5% of the time. The player on the Black side is not likely to have spent a lot of time studying or worrying about the Advance Variation because it doesn’t occur frequently enough compared to other variations.

The second advantage is simplicity. If you play 3.Nc3 or 3.Nd2, for example, you have to learn a lot of complicated and involved theory for all of Black’s responses. Especially for part-time chess players who don’t have time to memorize a ton of forcing lines, it is more effective to play something you understand the principles of. With the Advance Variation, you avoid certain lines such as the Rubinstein, and you can play mostly using ideas.

Advancing Against the French Defense

As you can see from the video, this is far more than “another opening course”. Far more than a list of recommended lines.

GM Kraai shows you how to attack Black’s setup and how to deal with all the different strategies Black relies on.

He explains how to play with a space advantage, how to break down fortresses, and how to deal with attempts to break down your center.

This is a 6½-hour masterclass on playing this structure – and Jesse teaches every point with perfect clarity.

Click here to get instant access with 50% off the usual price.

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