Junk Openings and "My" Anti-French Line
Kennedy asks if I learned of this line through the work of eccentric openings theorist Stefan Bücker. (I add that that "eccentric" modifies "openings," though his ideas are so unusual one might start to wonder!) The answer is yes: I read an article about him in an issue of New In Chess back in the mid-to-late 1980s. The majority of the article's chess content, as I recall, presented the alleged virtues of his most famous invention, the Vulture (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 Ne4?!), while only mentioning the four moves in the first paragraph's parentheses, without comment.
It seemed interesting, and there wasn't any theory on it in the traditional sources (and no databases to look up Bücker's games or anyone else's in the variation), so I worked out what I could and started to play it from time to time. I would be interested to know what conclusions he's drawn about the line, but at this point, what I'm writing about this variation is solely the product of my games and analysis.
DG's query is of a very different sort - he wants to know if I'm going to tell the beleagured French player how to defend! My first inclination was to encourage him to work out a good response for himself, and that was my second inclination, too. But here are four thoughts to help him (and others in his shoes) as they do.
First, think about it this way: if this line isn't mentioned in the usual sources (even the recent third edition of John Watson's excellent Play the French doesn't mention it) and there aren't any real players trotting it out, then it must be pretty bad! So if I were in your shoes, I'd cultivate an attitude of offense: I'm going to find a way to destroy this garbage.
Second, you might want to re-read my early post on responding to junk openings. White's goal is to sac a pawn or two in return for a raging initiative, so one counter-approach is to look for a way to turn the tables - especially considering that White hasn't done much to develop by move four.
Third, help will come in due course. I will eventually address some of the problems with the variation, but having spent so much time on it over the years I'm not in a hurry to send it to the grave. And I'd like other players to enjoy it for a while too!
Finally, let me reassure you that the French is safe. In fact, I'm willing to make an informal bet with my readers that there are at least a dozen ways, starting from move 2, that Black can achieve rough equality or better. (I haven't counted anything up - it's just my strong suspicion.) That's yet to come, however; for now, I'll continue to present White's trumps and leave French players with the opportunity to develop their own contributions to the theory of this variation.