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Facing the Caro Kann as white

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  • Facing the Caro Kann as white

    So the Caro Kann has been a pretty gaping hole in my opening preparation as white. I don't face it very often, but when I do, I tend to get clobbered. There are two guys at the local clubs who I know play it, and there's a good chance I'll play white against one of them this Saturday, so I've been looking over CK lines to decide how to play against it.

    So I've decided to try the main line - 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4, and move that knight to g3 if it's attacked (Bf5 or Nf6). I'm sure there are sharper lines, but I don't want to focus too much on opening study. From what I can tell looking over the lines in MCO-14 and some master games that I've looked at, I'll probably end up with knights on f3 and g3, kings bishop on d3, castled king side. Seems like a pretty solid formation defensively, but that leaves me without an active plan in the middle game.

    The obvious plan seems to be to plant my rook on e1 to try and attack up the semi-open e-file, while defending against similar threats from black along the semi-open d-file. Or should I be looking at pawn storms somewhere? What type of middle game strategies typically come from this variation?

    I'll look over some more master games during the week, but any suggestions would be helpful.

    --Fromper

    "Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald

  • #2
    I'm a fan of the Panov-Botvinnik attack, myself. If you've been playing the Tarrasch defense as black, I strongly recommend it: the Panov-Botvinnik is a way to play an IQP as white, and a lot of the strategic ideas you've learned in dealing with the Tarrasch. You can get a book like Baburin's Winning Pawn Structures (all about the IQP) and everything you learn will apply to both. (And, heck, throw in the Tarrasch against the French, too ... although that doens't always get you an IQP.)

    Not what you asked, but just thought I'd throw it out there. Familiarity with the Tarrasch defense will make the P-B pretty easy to play, because the P-B is a much more favorable IQP than the Tarrasch defense (not surprsingly, because you're white).

    Comment


    • #3
      Have you tried a few games with people on that line? I think it would be good if you play that line with the players here, just to see how your plans would fare in actual practice. Then you can also discuss during the game itself, and annotate it at the same time. That's what correspondence games here are good for, are they not?

      I, for one, am not convinced at how such a cramped opening can be annoying. I am not a good player myself, but if you wish I can offer to play Black, since I am skeptical of its effectiveness...
      "Blame yourself, or blame God." - Delita, Final Fantasy Tactics



      I tried to be perfect but nothing was worth it, I don't believe it makes me real...

      This place is so empty, my thoughts are so tempting...

      But it's the only thing that I have.

      If you believe it's in my soul, I'll say all the words that I know; just to see if it would show, that I'm trying to let you know...


      That I'm better off on my own.

      Comment


      • #4
        As I posted in your Improvement thread (I'm posting it again just in case anyone misses it):

        I've played the Classical Variation of the Caro (3 Nc3), but it seemed to quiet for my tastes. I've been fiddling around with the Fantasy (1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 f3!?) and the Two Knights (1 e4 c6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Nf3!?). In the Two Knights I see 3 ... dxe4 a lot, reaching a position similar to the 3 Nc3 Caro except that White spent the time he usually uses on 2 d4 with 2 Nf3, often resulting in more active piece play at the cost of not using as much pawn control over the center. Against 3 ... Bg4 in the Two Knights I personally like Tal's treatment: 4 h3 Bxf3 5 gxf3!?.

        Comment


        • #5
          Octal, if you haven't seen it yet, these two videos at chessvideos.tv will interest you:
          Dennis M.: Monokroussos-Dreev(GM), Part 1 [43:23]
          Dennis M.: Monokroussos-Dreev(GM), Part 2 [44:31]

          No recommendations from me. I haven't really settled on anything in the Caro-Kann. The main line with Bf5-Ng3 and the h-pawn pushing is what I play these days. The Fantasy variation used to be my choice, that's alright too. I've a little bit of experience in the Panov-Botvinnik, but that's by transposition from the Scandinavian and Caro-Kann defenders play a better PBA than the Scandinavian crowd; haven't played it in years.
          For lack of an alternative I really trust, I'm sticking with the main line.
          Have you read the Forum rules?

          Queeg: Pawn to King Four. Holly: Horsie to King Bish Three.
          Rimmer: It's called a "knight," actually, Holly...
          Queeg: Knight to King Bishop three. Holly: Queen to Rook Eight. Checkmate.
          Queeg: That's an illegal move. Holly: Oh, sorry. Queens don't move like that. I was thinking of poker.
          Holly: Cleudo? You could be Colonel Mustard.
          Cat: If it's any help, I've been studying his tactics and there's a pattern emerging: Every time you make a move, he makes one too. *Winks to Holly*
          Holly: *Winks back* Thanks, Cat.
          --Red Dwarf

          Comment


          • #6
            I played the CK as Black for a long time and didnt mind the Panov-Botvinnik Attack because I like those kinds of positions. Ive faced 3.f3 a few times and always played 3dxe4 and met 4.fxe4 with 4e5 although 3g6 is also pretty good. After 3Nf6 White can transpose into the French with 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 e6 which isnt to my liking.

            The move that caused me swearing fits though was 3.e5. I hated to see it so badly I dont want to discuss it.
            The Hoppers

            Comment


            • #7
              I've tried the Advance and Exchange in the past, and I just never got anywhere with them.

              Knowing that the Scandinavian is another opening I'm preparing, because I might face it on Saturday instead of the CK, Abba recommended 1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Nf6 3 Bb5+ Bd7 4 Bc4 against the Scandi. Googling that line, I found a web site that pointed out that the 2. c4 line of the Caro Kann transposes to the Scandinavian without c pawns after 1. e4 c6 2. c4 d5 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. exd5. I'm thinking about looking at that more now, though that leaves me with 2 isolated d pawns instead of just one. Not sure if I like that.

              --Fromper

              "Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Fromper View Post
                I've tried the Advance and Exchange in the past, and I just never got anywhere with them.

                Knowing that the Scandinavian is another opening I'm preparing, because I might face it on Saturday instead of the CK, Abba recommended 1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Nf6 3 Bb5+ Bd7 4 Bc4 against the Scandi. Googling that line, I found a web site that pointed out that the 2. c4 line of the Caro Kann transposes to the Scandinavian without c pawns after 1. e4 c6 2. c4 d5 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. exd5. I'm thinking about looking at that more now, though that leaves me with 2 isolated d pawns instead of just one. Not sure if I like that.

                --Fromper
                I second the recommendation of the Scandinavian you mention. I like it.. Not only because it kind of plays itself, but also because of a few similarities to how I setup against 2. ... Qxd5.

                The double exchange on d5 isn't such a hot idea when you don't do well with exchanging lines. I've always wanted to look at the Marczy variation with f4, never got around to it because there always seems to be a bigger fire to put out!
                Have you read the Forum rules?

                Queeg: Pawn to King Four. Holly: Horsie to King Bish Three.
                Rimmer: It's called a "knight," actually, Holly...
                Queeg: Knight to King Bishop three. Holly: Queen to Rook Eight. Checkmate.
                Queeg: That's an illegal move. Holly: Oh, sorry. Queens don't move like that. I was thinking of poker.
                Holly: Cleudo? You could be Colonel Mustard.
                Cat: If it's any help, I've been studying his tactics and there's a pattern emerging: Every time you make a move, he makes one too. *Winks to Holly*
                Holly: *Winks back* Thanks, Cat.
                --Red Dwarf

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Perseus View Post
                  Octal, if you haven't seen it yet, these two videos at chessvideos.tv will interest you:
                  Dennis M.: Monokroussos-Dreev(GM), Part 1 [43:23]
                  Dennis M.: Monokroussos-Dreev(GM), Part 2 [44:31]
                  I haven't seen those videos (I've put very minimal study into the Two Knights), although I just watched them. They were very good, and I recommend anyone else who has an hour and a half to waste watch them too!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    So I've gotten a lot of suggestions in both this thread and my improvement thread on how to deal with the Caro Kann and the Scandinavian, which are the two openings I'm most likely to face on Saturday that I don't know very well. And I've looked up most of them in MCO-14, as well as looking at some master games in a database for many of these lines.

                    I think I overloaded my brain.

                    While it's good that I'm looking at this stuff, and I'm sure I absorbed bits and pieces that will help me a better player in the long run, I didn't pick up enough specific knowledge about any one line that I feel I'm ready to play it. I need to pick one line against each and just focus on studying those, instead of bouncing around like I was tonight.

                    I still say I want to focus on the mainstream stuff, even though it might put me at a disadvantage the first few times I play it. I just haven't decided which mainstream stuff to focus on.

                    --Fromper

                    "Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If you're playing seasoned Caro Kann players, then I'd advise against playing advance and exchange variations, simply because we see those lines all the time.

                      I know exactly what to do in those two lines for probably 10-12 moves. You'll be out of book before we (CKD players) are. I think f3 sounds like a really fun line as white. Also, consider 3. Bd3, as it defends e4 and further frustrates his light squared bishop.
                      Ne2 is also a move to consider as white, as it allows you to play f3, and gives his light squared bishop no where to develop to. He'll end up deciding to hem it in with e6 eventually, and maybe look for a queenside outlet. All of this stuff is uncomfortable for CKD players, and is completely sound as white.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        What I don't really want to see when I'm in a Caro-Kann;

                        - The Fantasy variation with 3. f3, which doesn't get that much attention here.
                        - The (related) Rasa gambit (3. Nc3 dxe4 4. f3), which is even more rare.
                        - Main lines with 4. Nxe4 and aggressive piece placement.

                        That said though, you can go a long way by playing 'natural chess'...
                        Have you read the Forum rules?

                        Queeg: Pawn to King Four. Holly: Horsie to King Bish Three.
                        Rimmer: It's called a "knight," actually, Holly...
                        Queeg: Knight to King Bishop three. Holly: Queen to Rook Eight. Checkmate.
                        Queeg: That's an illegal move. Holly: Oh, sorry. Queens don't move like that. I was thinking of poker.
                        Holly: Cleudo? You could be Colonel Mustard.
                        Cat: If it's any help, I've been studying his tactics and there's a pattern emerging: Every time you make a move, he makes one too. *Winks to Holly*
                        Holly: *Winks back* Thanks, Cat.
                        --Red Dwarf

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          my experience playing white against the C-K:

                          I just play the mainline and somewhere down the line black selfdestructs for no apparant reason. My guess: black tries to be more active then his position allows which gives white just enough time to get some initiative going.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Time to revive this old thread. As mentioned elsewhere, I've decided to switch back to 1. e4 instead of the 1. d4 that I've been playing the last couple of months. The Caro Kann is still the one big gaping hole in my e4 repertoire, though.

                            Last time, I ended up memorizing 10 moves deep in main line (3. Nc3) theory, and I still reached a middle game position where I had no idea what to do next.

                            I think that's really the issue - I need a plan. Not just moves - I need ideas.

                            For instance, against the French, I know that I like locking up the pawn center with e5, then playing moves like f4 or h4 to get a king side attack using my space advantage. I haven't decided what my favorite variation is to get into this plan, as I think the Advance (3. e5) is too early to play e5 and gives black too much counterplay, but I always know what plan I'm going for, even when I don't know the exact move order to get there.

                            My problem with the Caro Kann is I looked at just about every line, and I looked at a ton of opening theory, and I still have no idea what white's PLAN is supposed to be at the end of any of those long strings of published moves. It doesn't matter how many moves deep of theory I memorize if I just don't understand the plans involved.

                            Can someone recommend a line and explain what white should be trying to do in the middle game of that line?

                            I think maybe I need to start playing the CK as black, but I really don't want to start that much opening study right now. That's what I did with the French when I just didn't understand how to play against it as white. Playing the other side helped me understand the concepts, instead of just playing the moves from a book, so now I know how to attack it as white.

                            --Fromper

                            "Don't be afraid of ghosts! Always play the moves you want to play unless you see a genuine tactical drawback." --Grandmaster Neil McDonald

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              An interesting way to play against it is:

                              1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nd2!? with the idea to play Nb3 and Be3 to try to slow down black's thematic ...c6-c5 advance.

                              There's also this wild game to consider:

                              Becerra,Julio (2615) - Kacheishvili,Giorgi (2666) [B12]
                              USCL Miami vs New York Internet Chess Club (13), 07.12.2009

                              1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 c5 6.Be3 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Ne7 8.c4 dxc4 9.Qa4+ Qd7 10.Nb5 Nd5 11.N1c3 Bb4 12.0-0-0 Bxc3 13.Nd6+ Kf8 14.Qxc4 Bxe5 15.Nxf5 Na6 16.Bc5+ Ke8 17.Kb1 Rc8 18.Qe4 Rxc5 19.Qxe5 f6 20.Qd4 Ra5 21.Bc4 Nac7 22.Ne3 Kf7 23.Bb3 Rd8 24.Qh4 Kg8 25.Rhe1 Ra6 26.f4 g6 27.g4 Kg7 28.f5 Qf7 29.g5 fxg5 30.Qxg5 Rad6 31.fxe6 Qe7 32.Nf5+ Black resigns 1-0
                              USCF: 2248, High: 2295
                              FIDE: 2193, High: 2229
                              Games Left to Analyze: 9

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