I was toying around for an alternative to the French Defense which I have used with mixed results. I read somewhere that Morozevich is the only grandmaster at the top level who still uses the French. Certainly, the c8 bishop is problem for black in the French. Anyway, here is a position that arises in the Kan variation of the Sicilian Defense. The moves are 1. e4 c5 2. nf3 e6 3. d4 cd 4. nd4 a6 and you get the position above. It is said that a6 is a waste of tempo but it is well worth it since it takes away the b5 square from both white knights. Furthermore, the e6 pawn takes away the d5 and f5 squares from the same knights. Pretty nifty. However, there is always a flip side to anything. If you look at black's pawn structure, you'll find holes. There is the d6 square and also the b6 square. In some cases, black decides to fianchetto his king's bishop via g6. That means that the f6 and h6 squares are also weak. There you go, white's strategy is to make something from these weak squares while black does his magic on the queenside. Just a thought.