Crush the Classical French with the Alekhine-Chatard Attack!!
If the French Defense has a reputation as a solid opening, then the Classical French (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6) is the super-solid choice. Black invites the e5 push, ready to retreat his Knight to d7 and chip away at the central pawns with …f6 and …c5.
This can be frustrating for the White player looking to hack up their opponent at the first opportunity.
Thankfully, we have the great Alexander Alekhine to help us out with the variation he popularized, now known as the Alekhine-Chatard Attack. This line features a gambit with 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nd7 6.h4! White invites Black to exchange Bishops (leaving Black with his ‘bad’ Bishop on c8) and capture the g5 pawn with his Queen.
In this video – a free preview of his 1.e4 Gambits course – GM Boris Alterman reveals how to unleash the pent-up aggression stored in White’s pieces.
As usual when a Queen ventures into the open early on, White can gain develop with tempo by putting their Knight on the 3rd rank. As Boris explains, Nh3! is the better move, heading for f4. Note that from f3, the Knight cannot hope to jump into d4 or e5, squares occupied by their own pawns.
Not only has White coaxed the Queen out, they also have a nice open h-file – perfect for early attacks! The first player can gain more time with a move like Qd3, hitting the h7 pawn before sliding over to the g-file. This gives Black a few headaches. In no way does he want to castle Kingside but he will have a nightmare getting his Queenside pieces out of the way to castle over there.
As GM Alterman demonstrates in this video’s instructive games, White has a ton of clever tactical tricks (see the sacrifices on d5) and can overload Black’s position with threat after threat.
Of course, this line isn’t outright winning but it is much easier to play for White who can choose from a variety of exciting variations while Black often has to find ‘only moves’ to stay alive!
This, plus the surprise factor, makes the Alekhine-Chatard Attack the perfect choice for crushing the Classical French Defense.
If you enjoyed this free preview of Boris Alterman’s 1.e4 Gambits, check out the full course here.