"A Complete Repertoire for White"
I always had a dream of becoming a chess author. As my years of experience and analysis grew, it was becoming a more and more frequent topic of discussions with my loved ones and friends. However, it is always difficult to make the leap from theorizing to making things a reality. Back in 2019, when I was approached by Thinkers Publishing about writing a book, I was initially inclined to refuse, as the year was incredibly packed with the Grand Prix, World Cup and many other highstakes tournaments.
I am glad that my publisher did not give up on me after my initial doubts, and we managed to create a flexible timeline and work schedule. Every step toward finalizing the book brought me as much joy as some of the most memorable games of my chess career.
During my journey as a chess player, I have read many chess books which had a profound impact on me. I always admired authors who combined deep analysis with well thought-out explanatory comments and my admiration only grew throughout the process of writing the pages you are about to dive into. lt is indeed a great challenge and naw I can understand the immense satisfaction one can feel after completing a nice book.
Nowadays writing a book on the opening is always quite demanding, especially from the White side. With strong engines and correspondence games readily available to al most anyone in the world, it is hard to prove an advantage for White. Being able to carne up with new ideas and having multiple weapons at your disposal, is a definitive must in modern chess, and besides dealing with various sidelines, this book is really about having a fresh look at the French defense.
The French Defense was my main opening with Black while I was striving towards the GM title at the turn of the century. Quite aften, I was able to use it to drag my opponent into a complicated maze of deep analysis, so I have intimate knowledge of the tricks used on the other side of the 'barricades'. This helped me craft a sol id base for our present repertoire, and many of the ideas presented in the book have brought me fine victories against some of the strongest French exponents as well.
l'd also like to mention another very important piece of the puzzle: a sizable portion of the repertoire was al ready published in my online course named 'French Toast' on the Chessable platform, and the appreciation I received for the course was a huge incentive for me to turn it into a book. In this regard I have to thank bath Thinkers Publishing and Chessable for helping me make my author's dream carne true.
Variations are ordered according to their importance - if you are looking to start building your repertoire against the French Defense 'from scratch', the initial chapters will teach you how to deal with various suboptimal systems Black can employ. Gradually you will work your way through to 3 ... dxe4, 3 ... Nf6 and 3 ... Bb4, the most principled systems for Black.
I believe this approach will also help you bui Id confidence, learning how to fight for advantages under objectively better circumstances first, without being burdened by heavy theory. Not to mention the practical value of learning such lines: these dodgy lines are quite frequent guests in short time controls and in online blitz.
If you are an advanced reader, you might jump right into the three most principled systems - the slightly passive Rubinstein (3 ... dxe4) and Black's most fighting weapons 3 ... Nf6 and 3 ... Bb4. While the book is an ode to new ideas (and you will learn how to deal with all of the main lines with a fresh approach), I took the liberty of expanding your arsenal by offering bath original and conservative (read: more theoretica!) alternatives against 3 ... Nf6.
Besides giving you a deep and refreshing look at the French Defense, I am also hoping you gain a broader appreciation for how seemingly innocent ideas can aften turn into dangerous ones, especially from the practical point of view. In many places you might discover that my is not the 'best' (as per the engines), but I believe in creating the most unpleasant situations for my opponents instead of fighting against their computer ...
Stay safe, study chess and fear the French Defense no more!