The French Exchange Variation
The game below was played in the 6th round of the Figueira da Foz International Chess Festival. It features my game with the young and talented Andreas Stella from Italy. I have decided to show this game because it is of theoretical importance.
All of my life I have had to encounter the French Defence, a most respected and feared counter-attacking defence. Even the great Bobby Fischer had his share of headaches and scorching losses against this line. In my career I have tried everything against he French: the Advance Line, the Tarrasch Line and the Classical Line (Winawer and Rubinstein sub-variations)
I have had excellent results and apparently little to complain about.. Especially in the Winawer, where in the past 15 years I have scored something like 23.5 points out of 25 or 26 games, many against grandmaster opposition.
HOWEVER, I am forced to admit that in every single of these games I NEVER stood better after the opening! That I won so many of the games must be attributed to my superior understanding of the middlegames that arose. And for such reason, a deep feeling of dis-satisfaction has caused me to search for better in the opening. Finally, at the ripe old age that I find myself, I can say that the circle is complete: the BEST line against the French is what Paul Morphy played in the middle of the 19th century: the EXCHANGE varation!
I kid you not! Having spent hundreds of hours of research, I have come to the conclusion that the theory of the Exchange Variation that my readers will find in just about any respectable opening text is all wrong. It is all Bull Shit! Based on prejudice and old wife’s tales dating back to the times of Alekhine.
In the past 2 years I have played, in serious tournament games, not less than 5 (five) games against strong opposition (grandmasters and international masters) and I have won not less than 5 points!
(For the readers to best appreciate the game below , I have used the RPB plugin. Just click on any move and a separate chessboard appears, which you can resize and/or drag over to the sidebar. Enjoy!)
gm Spraggett,K–im Stella,A
Figueira da Foz (3-11-2016)