French Defense Opening Series – Part 2, the Tarrasch Variation with 3. Nd2

Tarrasch Variation with 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 - French Defense Opening
Tarrasch Variation with 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 (Click to enlarge)

Part 2 of the French Defense Beginner Opening Series reviews the main lines of Tarrasch Variation with 3. Nd2.  I recommend black to follow a similar plan as reviewed in Part 1 of this series, where white obtains a slight space advantage with his central pawns on the dark squares (d4. e5, etc..) and black rapidly counterattacks with moves like …c5, …Nc6, …Qb6, and …f6.  It is imperative to play very actively with the black pieces in the French Defense, and to strike at white’s center before he can transform his space advantage into a dangerous kingside attack.  Against an early 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. Bd3 – I recommend black to transpose into the Swiss Variation by exchanging 4. …dxe4 (this was covered in Part 1 of the series).

French Defense Opening Series

Game 1 – The Tarrasch: Pawn Center Variation With an Early f4

White employs the Pawn Center Variation of the Tarrasch against black’s French Defense, aiming to achieve a massive wall of pawns on the central dark squares (c3, d4, e5, f4).  Black replies with sensible development, and upon castling decides to break the center with 11. …f6.  After 13. fxe5, black has the option of pursuing a queenside clamp on the light squares with moves like …a5, …a4, …Qc7, …Nb6 and …Na5; or a common exchange sacrifice 13. …Rxf3 followed by 14. …Qxd4.  In this game, black chose an even more radical sacrifice with 13. …Ndxe5!? – obtaining 2 important central pawns for the sacrificed piece and a dangerous initiative.  White’s ensuing defense could have been more accurate, and black forced white’s resignation after an excellent shot with 19. …Rf4! and 20. …Be8!

Game 2 – The Tarrasch: Closed Variation

This was a really nice game played by French Defense legend Wolfgang Uhlmann with the black pieces, demonstrating an accurate move order involving an early release of tension in the center with 8. …cxd4 and 9. …f6 – forcing exchanges before white can consolidate his pawn wedge on e5.  After 14. …Rae8, GM Uhlmann has efficiently finished his development and is ready to commence more active and loose operations in the center and kingside.  While the game exits the opening quite rapidly, this endgame is definitely worthy of review as it highlights many of the endgame themes that so often result from the French Defense: a compact pawn center without weaknesses for the black side, while white is having a tough time maintaining that formerly strong “pawn wedge” on e5.  After a faulty combination by white with 27. a4?! and 28. Bd4?, Uhlmann precisely seized the upper hand with the crushing intermediate blow 29. …Nc6! and went on to convert a large advantage in the endgame to a full point.


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