I play both sides of the French Defence. I tried it with black when I got an idea of ruling out some d-pawn specials by playing 1 .. e6.
I started to play French with black in late 2016 and my results has been excellet this far, I have even got several draws vs a local FIDE Master in both blitz and in rapid games in 2017. My first none blitz nor rapid games with it was in two team matches in 2017. I find the French Defence an excellent practical opening that works at all time controls.
I have played both sides of the Caro Kann defence. However these days I plays it mostly with white.
As black I did not lose many games, I even won over two local FIDE Masters who both played double edged variations in blitz games but is difficult to play for a win in many lines. When playing it with black vs lower rated I did not always play best opening moves like early Queen exchange in order to get more inbalances.
In my experience Caro Kann is bit inpractical in blitz as well, particullary in advance variation, but good in games where a draw is a good result.
French is my main defence in Correspondence Chess. I have play both various system like both Winaver and McCutcheon in team matches for Team Sweden and in rated class tournaments. I have even played different subsystems within Winaver since I played both Poisen Pawn and Petrosians b6 system and met the Winaver exchange variation. I have also played both Winaver and McCutcheon in over the board games too as well as Steinitz variation.
Winaver with 4 e5 b6 is a excellet choice for creative black players in Correspondence Chess since computers often miss evaluates the arrising positions in the opening fase. Many variations are evaluated more than 1,5 pawns better for white but after several concrete moves further into the variation the evaluation drops for every move entered and suddenly the position is called equal.
However there are one trap in these relativly unexplored lines and that is the variation 5 Qg4 Bf8 6 Nf3.
There are two differnt authors, Marin (opening database) and Lakdawala (book) who advocated the b6 system. Marin does not cover immediate 6 Nf3 at all only when other moves are inserted. Lakdawala covered it and he went for traditional the main line 6 .. Qd7 but after 7 Bb5+ c6 8 Be2 Ba6 9.O-O Ne7 10.Rd1! is very strong as I learned the hard way where I got much worse quickly and lost some 30 moves later since Lakdawalas c5,that I played in a game are better for white if whites plays accurate.
The line is self is evaluted harmless by computers at first sight and have been played at elite levels but none critical play some moves further in. It is not a forced lose but it is a minefield where white is much better.
I found no other improvment than that I think black after 5 Qg4 Bf8 6 Nf3 black must play 6 .. Ne7 instead when Bg5 is harmless becouse of Qd7 when Bxe7 is met by h5. After Ne7 whites knights is a bit missplaced at f3 and black is equal.
Both authors has been lazy in other lines too. After the natural moves 5 Qg4 Bf8 6 Bg5 Qd7 7 0-0-0 h6 8 Be3 Ne7 I met the novelty and probebly computer top choice 9 Kb1 in two different games. However I equalised in both games and won one of them.
I also met 5 Qg4 Bf8 6 Be3 once but it is harmless and I equalised fast and I even ended up with a slight advantage.
At both club level and in over the board tournaments and in over the board team matches the exchange variation is the most common line to face, I met it in more than 75% of my over the board games. I do not understand the logical since black equalices easy and I even have a slight plus score with black but it usually leads to a draw. I belive that the line will become even more common since WCH Magnus Carlsen plays this as white and two serious repertour books recommends it, both with some new ideas in mind. Advanced is second most common where I met the dubios Milner Barry Gambit more than I expected. After that both Nd2 and Nc3 are equally common and I have also met KIA and also some odd looking lines like Wing Gambit a few times.
I have also reached French via 1 d4 e6 2 e4 more than I expected, including in Correspondence Chess. In my experience, in Correspondence Chess Nc3 is most common and after that Nd2.
|2017||WSTT/2/17/3 - Caro Kann - Panow Variation, B13||7/12: +3 =8 -1||4th in section with same points as 3rd .|
|2019||WSTT/2/19/Final - French, Teisha Gambit, C02||3/5: +2 =2 -1||I have 1 game left in this 6 game tournament .|