Exchange Variation of the French Defense (C01) ⎸Chess Openings

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The Exchange French is considered to be one of the dullest openings, but it could lead to very interesting attacking positions if you decide to deviate from the main lines.

Watch this video for an introduction to the French Defense, basics, opening principles and main variations:

French Defense C01 – Exchange Variation

The variation starts after the opening moves:

1.e4 e6 (the French Defense)
2.d4 d5
3.exd5 (entering the Exchange Variation) …exd5

If neither side decides to deviate from the main, most solid and precise opening plans the position is likely to end in a draw, which is why the Exchange French is “frowned upon” by many. The reason for this is a symmetrical pawn structure and a similar attacking plan for both players. There are, however, interesting deviations for white and for black which could lead to volatile, double-edged positions. The variation can continue in several ways:

4.Nf3 This is the main line. White is going for a normal development plan of Nf3, c3, Qc2, Bd3, Be3 (or f4, g5) and castles short, preparing to put pressure on the h7 pawn and black’s king position. Black is most likely going to play symmetrically with Nf6, or he can continue with 4…Nc6, which can lead to far more interesting lines with opposite side castling.

There are three sidelines white could choose on move 4. Each is less precise than Nf3, but they can all be used as a surprise weapon against an opponent who will most likely expect the main line.

4.Bd3 Bd6
4.c4 (Monte Carlo Variation)


  1. Im studying the exchange cause at my rating people automatically exchange pawns when they can lol.

  2. Wow what a stupid video…You show the french defense but from white side?!?! flip the board moron.

  3. At 9:14, what if white plays bg5, attacking the queen and pinning the rook?

  4. Nice video.
    I was wondering why the video is from whites perspective, because that makes it harder for me to learn to play the french.

  5. Thank you, great video as always. However i'm not sure I trust Bd7 in the 4…Nc6 line (8:38). Why would White co-operate and play something like c3? The d4 pawn isn't threatened. Instead c4, Re1+ (in either order) or Nc3 are more natural move for White and spoil the idea of Queenside castling by forcing an early Nge7.

  6. Capablanca & Maroczy once played symmetry for a good long while, I think in 1924.

  7. Chess lesson with Russian Elon Musk , perfect 🤩

  8. At 9:08 after the 0-0-0, you are loosing an exchange Bg5 which will attack the Q and if moves which Black has to then B*Rd8 loosing an exchange and probably the game as well.

  9. Excellent video but after 8…0-0-0 doesn't white play 9 bg5 pinning the Queen against the Rook and win the exchange? Others have asked the question also-does Hanging Pawns have an answer that would allow his Queen to continue the sacrifice attack and get at least a forced draw?

  10. Interesting ideas, but the fact remains that if White absolutely can't take a draw, he can't play the Exchange French without that being the likely outcome.
    And, if Black absolutely can't take a draw against an opponent who likely would want one, Black can't play the French and recapture with the pawn on d5(If Black really wants to play with fire, he can re-capture with the Q entering unrecommended positions similar to the Rubenstein variation).

    If both players agree to play fighting chess (which is typical in Swiss tournaments when the opponents are close to equal rating), both players can be expected to avoid the Exchange French unless both are rated so low, they don't know what to expect.

  11. Love these detailed videos. Other streamers/content creators want you to pay for a course or a paid guide for it. Made a fan out of me!

  12. I hate this variation, but it's too common not know it !

  13. I love how you pronounce "rook". Rrrrook xD It's awesome!

  14. Thank you very much as always! I know you want to become a GM, but just know that all the value you create here in youtube is worth more than a thousand GMs all put together.

  15. Anybody knows what happened to Stjepan's hair? 🙂

  16. Idk, whe I put the ideas from the second half of the video, it says like more than plus 1 for white. Thats much better

  17. This is a bad video for exchange french (imo) since you fail to go over the main ideas in the main line. Instead focusing on dubious side lines for white. Most of your videos are great though!
    But now i keep looking for how to draw with this line against stronger white players.

  18. Just notice at 12:51, what if white tries to do the move Bb5 – an attack on black's queen and rook? Is that compensated with good positional play for black?

  19. this has to be one of the most boring openings lol

  20. Lmao why are we looking from whites perspective like 👎🏻

  21. Hi sir! Do you have a pgn file for this?

  22. You say 4…NC6 is imprecise? Stockfish 15 even prefers NC6 in depth 40!

  23. Yesterday I played a game and my opponent was chopping pieces whenever he get a chance..we have left with pawns and king

  24. Your plan for Black to castle queenside after 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bb5 Bd6 6.0-0 Bd7 depends on White playing passively with 7.c3 Qf6 8.Be3. White can play 8.Re1+ instead followed by Bg5 with attack, or even 7.Re1+.

  25. Queen's Gambit full video please sir❤️

  26. In my opinion the exchange french is an amazing weapon for white. Most french players hate to face it and unless at a 2200+ level the chances for a draw are not that high as praised. If you play into a main line advanced for example the chance is high that blacks knows the plans much better than you do

  27. At 12:16, Re1 would free space for the king to run to f1 and allow it to flee to d1 where it would be safe. White is only slightly winning here though.

  28. I really hate the Exchange French because it maintains symmetry for so long. I hate it so much that I often play 2 . . . QxP, transposing to the Exchange Winawer. The problem is if White responds 3. c4.

  29. this discussion was really helpful, i was fed up with the drawish type of game in this variation, back to back 3 games drawn with same position, so much wastage of time and mental drain

  30. 1. e4 e6
    2. d4 d5
    3. exd4 Nf6
    4. dxe6 Bxe6
    Keep things interesting 🤪

  31. 9:01 what if white play Bg5? White wins rook for bishop.

  32. Good explainaton and commntary byvu mr GM. Tq

  33. This video is over 5 years old, so I guess you’re much better right now.. you should rewatch it again ….you’ll see lots of mistake in your analysis..😅 still entertaining to watch ❤😊

  34. At 9:19 Bg5 win an exchange and when black play against the exchange with the idea of Queenside castle he put his Queen on d7 not on f6 .. cheers 😊

  35. Hey in 9:17 u missed something. When you castle the bishop pin the queen on the rook. and you will lose a rook.

  36. @hanging pawn i really like your Videos and enjoy the studies u made…@13:48 Black is able to sac the Exchange Rxe2 and after recapturing either with the Queen or the Bishop Black takes the free Bishop on f4…?

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