Our chess’ knowledge is somewhat representative of our strength over the board. Knowing opening moves, remembering how to convert a theoretically winning endgame into an actual victory, and turning a somewhat better position into a favorable game are some of the aspects that assess a player’s skills. But what happens when we fall into our opponent’s preparation, or if the game just shifts in a variation that you aren’t quite so familiar with ? Understanding a position that you have never even encountered is what chess is about too. Having the right mindset, experiences and instinct to properly evaluate what you can’t do, if not what you must play !
You’re looking at a variation of the French reached via the Tarrasch. White opted for a line in which his d4 pawn seems to be hanging. Black doesn’t necessary have to capture it, but a lot of players do while thinking their opponent just blundered. Let’s see what that get them into !
White just dropped a pawn but that’s not all of it. First of all White’s development is really simple and while he’s already castled and only one move away from connecting his rooks, Black is still a couple of tempo away from doing likewise. Black’s most consistent answer seems to be Qb4, harassing White’s Queen (that you’d never want to trade at this stage of the game), since letting her sit on the 4th rank could allow a possible Queen lift to the kingside, that may be really dangerous for Black if well timed. Now let’s see how wrong can things go for Black if not assimilating the ins and outs of his own game (Black should focus on developing its queenside pieces for now, after throwing in a Qb4).