French Defense: Secret Sideline 3…h6 | Chess Opening

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In this video, the RCA guest coach IM Alexandru Banzea, from Romania, explains the ‘secret’ sideline variation in the French Defense for Black – it is the move 3…h6 in the Tarrasch Variation 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2.

The Tarrasch Variation is named after Siegbert Tarrasch. This move became particularly popular during the 1970s and early 1980s when Anatoly Karpov used it to great effect. Though less aggressive than the alternate 3.Nc3, it is still used by top-level players seeking a small, safe advantage.

The move 3…h6, with similar rationale to the Morozevich Variation (3…Be7), has gained some adventurous followers in recent years, including GM Alexander Morozevich.

Banzea recommends this sideline to be used against opponents who are rated lower than you, which will give Black a fair chance to win the game, instead of going for drawish lines. Because most of the players are not prepared for a sideline like this, and also it offers a lot of attacking opportunities on the kingside. He also explains certain intricacies in this variation – the isolated queen pawn for White and Black and its pros and cons.

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