Grischuk’s French

In the Candidates Grischuk seems to stick to the French. Let’s go into detail! In the first game against Alekseenko, he played:

This means two things:

1. He wanted to avoid the “Norwegian Endgame”:

2. He was prepared to go into this line:

Because the attempt to repeat moves loses by force:

So what was his solution in case white goes for 16. Bf2? That move was recommended by Negi after all.

The endgame is just bad:

Black cannot bail out, because this seems to lose by force again:

Wrong! It took me a while to find it, but Stockfish finally showed a clean equalizer. This is a massive improvement on Negi’s book:

So the “old” mainline is a forced draw. That is the reason why Alekseenko played 16. Qf2. This line isn’t as easy as it looks. Black may have to go into an endgame pawn down, but with opposite colored bishops. I expect Grischuk to get tested here.

If this doesn’t hold, he still has the option to transpose into the Poetsch-Fedoseev-Variation, but that was not what he intended.

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