The French Defense Rubinstein Variation – GM Ron W Henley

In today’s environment, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the chess material available. But if you want to become strong fast, you need to focus.

Grandmaster Ron W. Henley – the former training partner of 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov – recommends you put your time and effort into two things: building a rock-solid opening repertoire and becoming tactically adept.

GM Henley teaches you how to play the Rubinstein variation of the French Defense – 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3/Nd2 dxe4!

By capturing in the center, Black opens the position, allowing for free development of their pieces while maintaining a safe, solid kingside structure.

This video is an exclusive preview of GM Ron Henley’s new course on the French Defense Rubinstein Variation.

A Taste of the French Defense Rubinstein Variation

The French Defense begins after 1.e4 e6. Black is prepared to play 2..d5 after almost any move by White. Our focus begins after 2.d4 d5.

White’s e4 pawn is now threatened and they must decide how to deal with this. White’s options fall into three major categories, with a few minor exceptions:

  1. Protect the pawn with moves such as 3.Nc3, 3.Nd2 or 3.Bd3. (Note that 3.f3?! is not as good because after 3..dxe4, White is unable to recapture the pawn with 4.fxe4? due to 4..Qh4+).
  2. Move the pawn forward with 3.e5.
  3. Trade off the e4 pawn with 3.exd5.

All these options, and some minor lines by White, are analyzed in full during the course.

White can play 3.Nc3 (Classical French) or 3.Nd2 (Tarrasch Variation).

French Defense Rubinstein Variation
The French Defense Rubinstein Variation

Usually, Black takes two very different approaches to these moves, however in our repertoire we will play 3..dxe4 and after 4.Nxe4, we reach the same position, saving us an immense amount of work!

This is the starting position of the Rubinstein. We have traded off one of White’s strong central pawns.

From here Black has a very thematic plan to develop the pieces:

  • First, we will put our b8 knight on d7.
  • Next, we typically continue with ..Ngf6, challenging White’s powerful knight in the center, which we are happy to trade off. If White captures on f6, we will recapture with our d7 knight.
  • The drawback of the French defense is that the c8 bishop cannot get to f5 or g4. Therefore, we will likely play ..b6 and ..Bb7 to place our bishop on an active square.
  • We will then develop our f8 bishop, castle, and play a ..c5 break, the move order depending on what White plays.

White has a number of ways to react, but in each case we will manage to solve Black’s two main problems in all lines, namely the ‘bad ‘French bishop’ (by placing it on b7), and the lack of space (by trading off a few pieces).

These typical ideas are demonstrated in the video, with an analysis of three French Rubinstein games (including two games by Akiba Rubinstein himself, the proponent of this variation).

The Henley Files – French Rubinstein

This is an easy-to-learn system that takes the sting out of White’s initiative and gives you a clear way to play for an advantage.

In the first volume of his brand new The Henley Files series, GM Ron explains how to wreck White’s plans and pile on the pressure with this hugely underestimated opening.

Forget what you may think about the French… no cramped positions or development problems here!

Rubinstein secret #1: By trading the e-pawn we open the position and eliminate all of White’s cramping e5 ideas… and we get to challenge the e4 knight with tempo with …Nf6.

Rubinstein secret #2: In most French lines, developing the c8 bishop can be a real problem – in the Rubinstein, it becomes an awesome attacking piece! Ron will show you how and when to get it gunning down the long diagonal opened by the trade of the d5 and e4 pawns!

And that’s just the very beginning of the enormous advantages the Rubinstein gives you. Click here to get your copy at half the usual price.

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