I have recently purchased a book on combating the French defense with White, but as with most chess opening books, I can only get through a few pages at a time because they are so dense. I haven’t gotten to the Winawer yet, which is a fairly large subsection of the book itself.
In the French Winawer, Black goes for an early pin of White’s Queenside knight and doubles White’s c pawns, but he has to give up the bishop pair to do it. As in many French games, White’s center pawn chain points toward his opponent’s Kingside, whereas Black’s chain points toward his opponent’s Queenside. So both sides often play on the sides where their chain is pointing. Also as in most French positions, White often initiates an attack, but Black has a surprising number of defensive resources.
I have noticed that French Defense players just love to go after pawns. They are often strong defenders and will bravely gobble a pawn or two while seemingly leaving their King undefended, but they somehow manage to defend the attack and then are just a couple pawns ahead and win the endgame.
When I play the White side in these types of French Defense games, nothing makes my blood boil hotter than my opponent dancing his Queen around the board, gobbling pawns, leaving his pieces on the back rank and even sometimes his King uncastled (sometimes just sticking it on d7 or f7 to really make me mad! But I have seen an amazing number of positions where, in the postmortem analysis, the computer confirms that Black was doing okay. Then again, the comp can usually defend against most direct attacks!
Bobby Fischer famously disapproved of the Winawer variation for Black, citing positional concerns and a weakened Kingside. Looking briefly at some of the variations in the Winawer, it looks like some crazy positions are often reached right out of the opening, with the Queen for both sides coming out early in several lines (make the first few moves in the database on ChessTempo or other similar site and you can see the results of some recent games played in these lines).
Anyway, this game turned out to be a fairly common experience for me. My opponent was doing all the things I mentioned above, and he was up a pawn or two in the final position, but I only had at best a forced draw, until he stumbled into a fun mate that I don’t get to play too often. In the final position, my Queen is pinned to my King, but I’m able to give mate with other pieces while the Queen serves her attacking role despite the pin.