Burn and McCutcheon Variations of the French Defense ⎸Chess Openings

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The Burn Variation is a great way for white to challenge the Classical French Defense, but it gives both sides enough attacking prospects and different middle game ideas.

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 Variation:
The Rubinstein Variation:
The Steinitz Variation:
The Advance Variation:

The Burn Variation of the French occurs after the moves:

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Bg5

On move 4, black gets to choose the variation. Three most common options are:

4… dxe4 Burn Variation, which can branch out on moves 5 and 6
5… Be7
6… gxf6
6… Bxf6
5… Nbd7
4… Bb4 MacCutcheon Variation, a very straightforward variation which can easily be memorized and applied
4… Be7 Classical Variation, Normal Variation
6. Bxe7
6. h4 Alekhine-Chatard Attack

Study the variations from the games of Alexander Morozevich. He is one of the strongest players ever to have played (and helped develop) the theory in these lines.


  1. FYI – leela scores the alekhine-chatard attack +0.22. It actually recommends it over the main move. Proof that chess engines have improved

  2. The McCutcheon variation is a killer for Black if knows well.

  3. At time of watching 3 views 3 likes😁 nice ratio👍🏻

  4. I know this is a lot of work to ask of you but have you considered creating lichess studies of the openings you cover?

  5. Thanks – I've started playing around with the french after these videos. looking forward to the semi-slav series.

  6. This is very good instruction. You cover a lot of ideas in a short space very clearly. I came here searching for Burn ideas as white, and this met the bill and more. Very good.

  7. Do you really believe it is possible to become a grand master starting from your age(26)? And what is your current elo?

  8. Think you for making this video. The other day I played agienst a high rated player and he played the burn variation. The player crushed me, after studying this is a bit maybe I won't get crushed lol.

  9. At 4:20 after Bb5+ Bd7 Bxd7 Qxd7 is Bxf6 not good for white ruining blacks structure?

  10. Hey. Glad you've made a video. Today I played this Variation and think it's a solid attack for White.

  11. In nbd7 sideline, why Qe2, and not Bxf6 right away?

  12. 20:09 – As far as I know, in MacCutcheon the best place for white king is d2 (as it goes naturally) and the best place for black king is c7. There are ways black can castle queenside, even in the variation you showed since there black is very solid. The downside is that black has no counterplay on the queenside, but for that playing for a direct attack on the king is not really possible.

    This is my preferred way to go in this variation – my favorite choice against 4.Bg5 – but after Qg4 there is another move to take under consideration. Johnathan Schrantz – and maybe Ben Finegold too – prefer the move Kf8. And after that the progress is the same usually – Bd3 Nxd2 Kxd2 c5. This is a bit sharper and allows some more counterplays, but the downside is that eventually you'll have to make a long king walk in the middlegame and that could be frustrating. After all, you need like 4 or 5 moves to go from f8 to c7 and you have even moved your king once already.

  13. thank u, i watched the whole series and it helped alot <3

  14. Just finishing this series now, excellent stuff! Do you think you could expand the series with variations more popular in lower ratings such as Nf6 following the first move of the French?

  15. One thing I don't understand is why after Nbd7 White usually plays Nf3, and only after Be7 then advised is Nxf6+
    My question is "Why White doesn't capture one move earlier on f6, instead they wait Black to have also the dark bishop watching on f6 to capture the knight?" 🤔🤔

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