Converting The French Into A Universal Repertoire

One of the useful things about playing the French is that it can be fairly easily turned into a low maintenance universal repertoire. A few years ago I made a DVD for Chessbase on this topic in which Black would combine the French with Bogo-Indian type lines, meeting 1.d4 with 1…e6 and then on 2.c4 playing 2…Bb4+. The emphasis here was on solidity rather than anything else and the French lines I gave featured the Romanishin System with 3…Be7 against 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 or 3.Nd2 together with super solid lines of the Bogo. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a good way to get a universal 1…e6 repertoire up and running.

For more adventurous souls I recently made this one in which the Owens Defence is used as a supplement to the French. I don’t recommend the Owens against 1.e4 because of 1…b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Nd2, but it can be playable after 1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6. Here’s a sample that’s on Youtube:

Finally there’s a more traditional option for Black is to combine the French and the Dutch, and this you can do with playing 1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5, which has the advantage of avoiding gambit lines like the Staunton (1.d4 f5 2.e4!?) plus other anti-Dutch ideas. If you’d like to go this route I show the ideas on this video at my Tiger Chess site:

Remember that players at club level really just need plans, ideas and concepts whilst they get on board an opening, in my opinion it’s plain madness for them to buy a huge tome full of variations played and analyzed by top GMs. I do explain this and more on my Tiger Chess site with some video lessons that are available to both full and video members.

Nigel Davies

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About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Besides teaching chess, Nigel is a registered tai chi and qigong instructor and runs several weekly classes.