After suffering a very painful defeat 8 months ago in the club from a 270 lower rated player in French, Steinitz variation:
I didn’t play French OTB at all.
A few days ago I played Steinitz variation in a blitz game:
In this game I didn’t play on the queenside.  I played f6 early and then executed a typical positional exchange sacrifice on f3.  It was Fritz’s first choice, by the way, though Fritz only gave it 0.25.  But after winning the second pawn I was better and then my opponent allowed a combination leading to a royal fork and it was over. That win kind of reminded me about the French. The thing is, I can’t be sure that in response to 1… e5 I would get my Ruy, it can be anything, for example Scotch, in which I lost recently.
So maybe I should resume my French play, alternating it with 1… e5. Maybe I should try different variations or just try to learn on my experience.
French, another Steinitz
After some break (I didn’t post my last OTB game from 2 weeks ago since, though won, I played too bad
and was ashamed to publish it), I am posting the game I played this Sunday, regular G/90.
My opponent was a boy, rated 200+ lower, I had a win against him before.
So I play French, third time. It’s probably good that I can try it against lower rated
opponents, where I can compensate later for my opening/transition to middlegame mistakes,
being still able to win/draw and getting a valuable experience at the same time.
I should admit they all played decent opening lines, as opposed to freaking FICS, where 25% play
C00, i.e. something like 1.e4 e6 2. Nf3, 30% Exchange, and another 25% – Advanced variation.
My opponents followed the Canadian (and general) OTB stats with 3. Nc3 being the most popular,
followed by 3. Nd2.
OK, here is the game.
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 a6 6. Nf3 c5 7. Ne2 Nc6 8. c3
Pic 1
8. … cxd4 9. cxd4 f6 10. Nc3 Be7 11. Be2 O-O 12. O-O fxe5 13. fxe5 Nb6 14. Be3 Nc4
Pic 2

After some break  (I didn’t post my last OTB game from 2 weeks ago since, though won, I played too bad and was ashamed to publish it),  I am posting the game I played this Sunday, regular G/90.

My opponent was a boy, rated 200+ lower, I had a win against him before.  So I played French,  third time.  It’s probably good that I can try it against lower rated opponents, where I can compensate later for my opening/transition to middlegame mistakes,  being still able to win/draw and getting a valuable experience at the same time.  I should admit they all played decent opening lines, as opposed to freaking FICS, where 25% play C00,  i.e. something like 1.e4 e6 2. Nf3, 30% Exchange, and another 25% – Advanced variation.  My opponents followed the Canadian (and general) OTB stats with 3. Nc3 being the most popular,  followed by 3. Nd2.

OK, here is the game.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 a6 6. Nf3 c5 7. Ne2 Nc6 8. c3

another1

8. … cxd4 9. cxd4 f6 10. Nc3 Be7 11. Be2 O-O 12. O-O fxe5 13. fxe5 Nb6 14. Be3 Nc4 – it was tempting to get a bishop pair, but later in the game I realized it wasn’t a good idea – leaving e4 square undefended.

another2

15. Bxc4 dxc4 16. Ne4 b5 17. a3 Rb8 18. Qc2 h6 19. Nfd2 Qb6?  I miss here 19. … Nxd4,  also it allows 20. Nf6+!  Bxf6 21. exf6 Qd8 22. fxg7 Kxg7 23. Qe4 Bd7 24. Qg4+ Kh7 25. Qh5 Rf6 26. Ne4 Rg6 – with Crafty’s estimate – 2.03.  Accepting sacrifice  –  20. … gxf6 leads to checkmate – 21. Qg6+ Kh8 22. Qxh6+ Kg8 23. Qg6+ Kh8 24. Rf3 fxe5 25. Rh3+ Bh4 26. Rxh4#

another3

20. Rxf8+ Bxf8 21. Rf1? Nxe5

another4

22. dxe5 Qxe3+ 23. Kh1 Bb7 – the “bad” French bishop becomes a very good one.

another5

24. Rf3?? Bxe4! White resigned (because of  losing a piece or getting checkmate after 25.  Nxe4 Qe1+ ).

another6

I played this game on Sunday, regular G/90, against opponent rated 150 lower.  I had  a draw with him before.  So I play French, second time. It looked like after the first few moves it was “terra incognita” for him,  he was spending time finding the moves,  I played pretty quickly.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Nf3 a6 – second choice move to prevent Nc3-b5-d6 maneuver – I hate knight getting there. 6. Bd3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. O-O Nc6 9. Re1 Be7 10. Bf4 O-O.   Crafty evaluates position after move 10 as equal, time  +10 minutes.

steinitz11

11. a3 Nc5 12. b4 Nxd3 13. cxd3 f6 14. d4 – I evaluated it as better for me, Crafty thinks the same – ~-0.50.

steinitz21

14. d4 fxe5 15. Bxe5  Ncxe5  16. Nxe5 Bd7 17. Rc1 Rc8 18. Qg4

steinitz3

Now I realize that I am in trouble – there is a threat 19. Nxd7 Qxd7 20. Rxe6. I can play 19. … Rf6 – but I see right away that it’s not good – 20. Nxd7 Qxd7 21. Nxd5 …  ( and I found out later that I lose e6 pawn too) .  Still I don’t think  I have a choice and hope that my opponent wouldn’t see it. Advantage in time disappears. Of course, Crafty found here an excellent counterattacking move  –  Bf6, and also there is Rf5,  in both cases I am OK. So, again, it’s not opening/endgame knowledge, not deep calculation – just seeing  the right move. But that’s what masters are about – they see it, we don’t. Anyway, I play Rf6, luckily for me my opponent plays 19. Ne2.  So,  19. … Bd6 20. f4 Bxe5 21. fxe5 Rg6 – better Rf7, 22. Qh3 Qg5?  Crafty says another bad move – 23. Rxc8+ Bxc8 24. Rc1 Qd8  25. Qc3 Bd7 26. Qc7 Qxc7 27. Rxc7 Bc6 28. Nf4 Rh6 29. Re7 Kf8 30. Rxe6 – 1.46.  But White plays 23. Rxc8 Bxc8 24. Rf1

steinitz42

24. Rf1 Bd7 25. Qf3 Qe7 26. Qc3 Bb5 27. Rf2 Bc4 28. Qc2 Rh6 29.
Qa4 Bxe2

steinitz5

30. Rxe2 Rh4 31. Qd1 Rf4 32. Rf2 Rxf2 33. Kxf2

steinitz6

Draw agreed. Looking on the bright side,  I got out of the opening OK and with more time than my opponent.  Still need more experience in playing these positions.