Rubinstein Variation of the French Defense (C10) ⎸Chess Openings

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Rubinstein French is a common way to challenge white after 3. Nc3 (the Classical French). It avoids the thematic blocked central position which is often what the middlegame evolves around.

French Defense – Rubinstein Variation (C10)

Learn the basics of the French Defense, common variations & ideas for both sides in this introductory video:

The Exchange French:
The Tarrasch French:
The Winawer French:

The Rubinstein Variation starts after the moves:

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 dxe4 With this move black is resolving the central tension and avoiding all the common problems in the French Defense – the bad c8 bishop (which is easily deployed in this line), having to play a pawn break (c5, f6 or both) and handing white space and the initiative on the kingside. On the other hand, this variation doesn’t offer black as many attacking chances and aggressive play.

Black can continue in three most common ways:

4… Nd7 Blackburne Defense
4… Bd7 (5. Nf3 Bc6) Fort Knox Variation
4… Nf6

To master the Rubinstein French study these players:

Georg Meier, Wesley So, Varuzhan Akobian. Their games cover all the modern approaches to the opening. When looking at games don’t use an engine. Make sure you try to think of middle game plans yourself. An engine can give you the exact evaluation and a move, but it won’t explain its purpose! Try to find your own ideas and then try to refute them. If you can’t, turn on an engine then. It will show you where you went wrong (or that you are the next Bobby Fischer).


  1. Honestly this is my new favorite channel, good stuff

  2. Important trap in the Fort Knox in case of 6…Nf6 is 7.Nxf6+ Qxf6 8.Bg5 and it looks like this is ok after 8…Bxf3 but 9.Qd2!! and the black Queen is trapped. This is why 6…Nd7 is played first.

  3. At 3:50 you explain that 6.Bd3 instead of 6.Nxf6 loses a tempo because of 6.Bd3 Nxe4 7.Bxe4 Nf6 and White has to move the bishop. But if White moves 8.Bd3 then the exact same position occurs with the same side to move as when you recommend 6.Nxf6 Nxf6 7.Bd3. There is no tempo loss.

  4. It sounds like your assessment of the Blackburne defense is that the position at 7:25 should normally be reached where it is very drawish. But isn't White supposed to strive for an advantage in the opening? Where can White try for improvements in that line? If there is no better way for White to play then it would seem that Black has proven equality after the position 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3.

  5. 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.NxN QxN is incredibly dangerous for black. While the engine may say this is pretty equal, I would say the tactical advantage white gets is incredibly strong. I wouldn't recommend this variation to anyone. There is a reason why 4…Nf6 is the least popular line. This is the big reason for 4…Nd7 or 4…Bd7. If white knows what they are doing, then you are going to have a very uncomfortable match with either 5…QxN or 5…gxN. Are these moves playable? Sure. But if you are going to play these lines, then you will need to be well versed in the theory as they get incredibly tactical. Finding the correct defenses in a timed match after QxN is really challenging. There are so many tactics in this position and they aren't all obvious. Great vids by the way.

  6. this is the best way to discuss rubinstein variation. Love it!!!

  7. Why is e7 not a good square at 6:00? Because it's in line with the rook and thus vulnerable to a skewer/pin?

  8. All the Rubenstein variations give white a natural threat on the kingside , I have never encountered a variation where black castles queenside to hyperspace out of the threat, is there a variation?

  9. It's better to respond to f3 with Bb4 and after fxe4 Qh4+ to win back the pawn

  10. 6:57 the doubled pawns are actually slightly better for Black as the g-file is open.

  11. Gotham chess has invented the Rozman variation Nf6 Nxf6 then gxf6 lol, very interesting line

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