Caro-Kann Defence


Caro-Kann Defence

Infobox chess opening

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moves = 1.e4 c6
ECO = B10–B19
birth = "Bruederschaft" (journal), 1886
nameorigin = Horatio Caro and Marcus Kann
parentopening = King's Pawn Game
AKA =
chessgid = 339095&move=2&moves=e4.c6&nodes=21720.339095

The Caro-Kann Defence is a common chess opening characterized by the moves::1. .

The usual continuation is:2.

followed by 3. (the Classical Variation), 3. (the Classical Variation), 3. (the Exchange Variation), or 3. (the Advance Variation). 2.Nc3 is the modern variation which has gained much popularity. The Caro-Kann, like the Sicilian Defence and French Defence, is classified as a "semi-open game", but it is thought to be more solid and less dynamic than either of those openings. It often leads to good endgames for black, who has the better pawn-structure.

The opening is named after the English player Horatio Caro and the Austrian Marcus Kann who analyzed the opening in 1886.

Classical / Capablanca Variation

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Classical / Capablanca Variation
The most common way of handling the Caro-Kann, the Classical Variation (often referred to as the Capablanca Variation after José Capablanca), is defined by the moves:1.e4 c6:2.d4 d5:3.Nc3 (or 3.Nd2) dxe4:4.Nxe4 "Bf5"This was long considered to represent best play for both sides in the Caro-Kann. White usually continues:5.Ng3 Bg6:6.h4 h6:7.Nf3 Nd7:8.h5 Bh7:9.Bd3 Bxd3:10.Qxd3Although White's pawn on h5 looks ready to attack, it can prove to be a real weakness in an endgame (Schiller, 8)

Much of the Caro-Kann's reputation as a solid defence stems from this variation being so hard to crack. Black makes very few compromises in his pawn structure, and plays a timely c5 to contest the d4 square. Black has the options of castling queen-side, castling king-side, and even leaving his king in the center. Should things proceed to an endgame, Black often stands well thanks to his solid pawn structure and king-side pawn majority.

Here is a recent brilliancy illustrating White's attacking chances when the players castle on opposite sides in the Classical Variation:Lev Milman – Joseph Fang, Foxwoods Open, 2005 [cite web|url=http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1340393 | title=Lev Milman vs Joseph Fang | publisher=ChessGames.com | accessdate=2007-07-18] 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 e6 "(10...Qc7 avoids White's next)" 11.Bf4 Bb4+ 12.c3 Be7 13.0-0-0 Ngf6 14.Kb1 0-0 15.Ne5 c5?! "(15...Qa5 is usual and better)" 16.Qf3 Qb6? "(necessary was 16...cxd4 17.Rxd4 Nxe5 18.Bxe5 Qc8 19.Rhd1 Rd8 20.Ne4 with a small White advantage)" 17.Nxd7 Nxd7 18.d5 exd5 19.Nf5! Bf6 20.Rxd5 Qe6 21.Bxh6 "(21...gxh6 22.Rd6 Qe8 23.Rxf6 Nxf6 24.Qg3+ mates on g7)" 21...Ne5 22.Qe4 Nc6 23.Qf3 Ne5? "(23...gxh6 24.Rd6 Qe5 25.Nxh6+ Kg7 26.Nf5+ Kh7 with an unclear position)" 24.Qe4 Nc6 25.Qg4! Qxd5 "(25...Ne5 26.Rxe5 Qxe5 27.Bxg7 Bxg7 28.h6 wins)" 26.Bxg7 Qd3+ 27.Ka1 Ne5 28.Ne7+!! Kh7 29.Qg6+!! fxg6 30.hxg6+ Kxg7 31.Rh7# "(White is down a queen, a rook, and a bishop!)" Notes based on Milman's much more extensive notes in July 2005 Chess Life, pp. 11–12.

Smyslov / Karpov variation

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Smyslov / Karpov Variation
Another solid positional line, this variation is characterized by the moves:1.e4 c6:2.d4 d5:3.Nc3 (or 3.Nd2) dxe4:4.Nxe4 Nd7At one time named after the first world champion Wilhelm Steinitz, nowadays the variation is more often referred to as the Smyslov Variation after the seventh world champion Vasily Smyslov who played a number of notable games with it, or the Karpov Variation, after the twelfth World Champion Anatoly Karpov, in whose repertoire it appeared quite often. The short-term goal of 4...Nd7 is to ease development by the early exchange of a pair of Knights without compromising the structural integrity of his position. Play is similar to the Classical Variation except that Black has more freedom by delaying the development of his bishop, and is not forced to play it to the g6 square. However, this freedom comes at a cost as White enjoys added freedom in taking up space in the center, and often plays the aggressive 5.Ng5!? where Black's development is brought into question as well as the positional weakness of the f7-square. The famous last game of the Deep Blue-Garry Kasparov rematch where Kasparov committed a known blunder and lost was played in this very line.

Bronstein-Larsen variation and Korchnoi variation

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Starting point
The Bronstein-Larsen variation and Korchnoi variation both begin with the following moves::1.e4 c6:2.d4 d5:3.Nc3 dxe4:4.Nxe4 Nf6!?:5.Nxf6

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Bronstein-Larsen variation (5...gxf6!?)
The Bronstein-Larsen variation arises after::5..."gxf6"!?Black has voluntarily opted for an inferior kingside pawn structure and a practical necessity of castling queenside, but also has some compensation in the form of the open g-file for the rook and unusually active play for the Caro-Kann. It is generally considered somewhat unsound, but former top-10 player Bent Larsen employed it with some success during the 1970s.

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Korchnoi variation (5...exf6)
The Korchnoi variation arises after::5..."exf6"
Viktor Korchnoi has played 5...exf6 many times (including in a world championship match). 5...exf6 is sounder than 5...gxf6!? of the Bronstein-Larsen Variation and offers Black rapid development.


Advance variation: 3...Bf5 and 3...c5

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Advance Variation with 3...Bf5
The 3...Bf5 variation that follows with:1e4 c6:2d4 d5:3.e5 "Bf5"has gained popularity after having previously been widely regarded as inferior for many years, owing chiefly to the strategic demolition that Aron Nimzowitsch (playing as White) suffered at the hands of José Capablanca in one of their games at the New York 1927 tournament:

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Bd3?! "(after the exchange of the light-squared Bishops, Black's play is based on White's light-squared weakness)" 4...Bxd3 5.Qxd3 e6 6.Nc3 Qb6 7.Nge2 c5?! "(7...Ne7 8.0-0 Qa6)" 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.0–0 Ne7 10.Na4? "(10.b4! Bxb4 (10...Qxb4 11.Nb5 Qa5 12.Be3 a6 13.Rab1 axb5 14.Bxc5 Nbc6 15.Rxb5 Qc7 16.Bd6 Qd7 17.Rfb1 Nd8 18.Rc5±) 11.Rb1 Qa5 12.Nb5= Moutousis-Cilia Vincenti, Thessalonika, 13.Nov.1988, 1–0)" 10...Qc6 11.Nxc5 "(11.Qg3 Nf5 12.Qb3 Nc6)" 11...Qxc5 12.Be3 Qc7 13.f4 Nf5 14.c3 Nc6 15.Rad1 g6 16.g4 Nxe3 17.Qxe3 h5 18.g5 0–0 19.Nd4 Qb6 20.Rf2 Rfc8 21.a3 Rc7 22.Rd3 Na5 23.Re2 Re8 24.Kg2 Nc6 25.Red2 Rec8 26.Re2 Ne7 27.Red2 Rc4 28.Qh3 Kg7 29.Rf2 a5 30.Re2 Nf5 31.Nxf5+ gxf5 32.Qf3 Kg6 33.Red2 Re4 34.Rd4 Rc4 35.Qf2 Qb5 36.Kg3 Rcxd4 37.cxd4 Qc4 38.Kg2 b5 39.Kg1 b4 40.axb4 axb4 41.Kg2 Qc1 42.Kg3 Qh1 43.Rd3 Re1 44.Rf3 Rd1 45.b3 Rc1 46.Re3 Rf1 0–1. A strategic masterpiece which the great strategist in Aron Nimzowitsch, if not the player, must have admired.

The Advance Variation has since been revitalized by aggressive lines such as the Bayonet Attack (4.Nc3 e6 5.g4) favored by Latvian Grandmaster Alexei Shirov or the less ambitious variation (4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 c5 6.Be3) popularized by English Grandmaster Nigel Short.

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Advance variation with 3...c5
The 3...c5 variation that follows with:1.e4 c6:2.d4 d5:3.e5 "c5!?"is an important alternative and avoids the weight of theory associated with 3...Bf5. It was used by Mikhail Botvinnik in his 1961 match vs. Mikhail Tal (though with a negative outcome for Botvinnik – 2 draws and a loss). In comparison to the French defense, Black lacks the tempo normally spent on ...e6. However, White can only exploit this by the weakening of his own central bind with 4. dxc5 when Black has good chances of regaining the pawn.

Exchange variation and Panov-Botvinnik Attack

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Exchange Variation
The Exchange Variation is1.e4 c62.d4 d5"3.exd5" cxd5.

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Panov-Botvinnik Attack
The Panov-Botvinnik Attack begins with the move"4.c4".It is named after Vasily Panov and the world champion Mikhail Botvinnik. This system often leads to typical isolated queen's pawn (IQP) positions, with White obtaining rapid development, a grip on e5, and kingside attacking chances to compensate for the long-term structural weakness of the isolated d4 pawn. The major variation in this line 4...Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3, when Black's main alternatives are 6...Bb4 (a position characteristic of the Nimzo-Indian Defense) and 6...Be7 (the most popular). 6...Nc6?! is inferior as it is favorably met by 7.c5!, after which White plans on seizing the e5-square via the advance of his b-pawn to b5 or by exchanging the Black's Knight on c6 after Bb5.

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Exchange Variation
The "true" Exchange Variation begins with"4.Bd3" Nc65.c3 Nf66.Bf4 Bg47.Qb3.White isn't thought to possess much of an advantage, although the line was tried by Bobby Fischer. Play is somewhat similar to the Queen's Gambit Exchange Variation (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5), colors reversed.

Other lines

Two Knights Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3, played by Bobby Fischer in his youth, where White's intention is to benefit from rapid development as well as to retain options regarding the d-pawn. Black's logical and probably best reply is 3...Bg4. after 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3, Black has 5...Nf6 or 5...e6.

Fantasy or Tartakower Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3, which somewhat resembles the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. 3...e6 is probably the most solid response, preparing to exploit the dark squares via ...c5. Related to the Fantasy Variation are the gambits 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 (Stuart Milner-Berry), and 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.f3by 5.f3 (von Hennig).

Gurgenidze Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 g6; it is because of this variation that some players believe 3.Nd2 is more accurate (White can then play c3 at some point), though 3...g6 is also playable after that move.

Hillbilly Attack: 1.e4 c6 2. Bc4?! This is often played by club players. Black can simply play the following: 2...d5 3. exd5 cxd5 thereby gaining a tempo on the Bishop.

Note that the Caro-Kann can sometimes be reached by transposition of moves from the English Opening: 1.c4 c6 2.e4 d5.

ECO codes

The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings has ten codes for the Caro-Kann Defence, B10 through B19:

B10

* Hillbilly Attack: 1.e4 c6 2.Bc4
* Modern; English Variation, Accelerated Panov: 1.e4 c6 2.c4
* Breyer Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d3
* Stein Attack: 1.e4 c6 2.d3 d5 3.Nd2 g6 4.g3 Bg7 5.Bg2 e5 6.Ngf3 Ne7 7.O-O O-O 8.b4
* Massachusetts Defense: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 f5
* Masi Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 Nf6
* Scorpion-Horus Gambit: 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d3 dxe4 4.Bg5
* Goldman Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Qf3
* Two Knights Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3

B11

* Two Knights Attack: 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3
* Mindeno Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4
* Retreat Line, Mindeno Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bh5

B12

* Landau Gambit: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 6.e6
* Mieses Gambit: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Be3
* Diemer-Duhm Gambit: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.c4
* Advance Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5
* Prins Attack: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.b4
* Bayonet Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.g4
* Tal Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4
* Van der Wiel Attack: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nc3
* Dreyev Defense: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nc3 Qb6
* Bronstein Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Ne2
* Short Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3
* Botvinnik-Carls Defense: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5
* Maroczy Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3
* Fantasy; Lilienfisch Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3
* Maroczy Gambit: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 dxe4 4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 exd4 6.Bc4
* Modern Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2
* New Caro-Kann 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 g6
* Edinburgh Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Qb6
* Ulysses Gambit: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Ng5
* De Bruycker Defense: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 Na6
* Hector Gambit: 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Ng5

B13

* Rubinstein Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4
* Panov-Botvinnik: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4
* Panov-Botvinnik, Gedult-Gunderam Attack: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5. c5

B14

* Carlsbad Line: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6
* Czerniak Line: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 Qa5
* Reifir-Spielmann Line: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 Qb6

B15

* Gurgenidze Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 b5
* Von Hennig Gambit: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Bc4
* Milner-Barry Gambit, Rasa-Studier Gambit: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3
* Knight Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6
* Tarrasch (Alekhine) Gambit: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3
* Tartakower Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6
* Forgacs Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6 6.Bc4
* Gurgenidze System: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 g6
* Gurgenidze Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 g6 4.e5 Bg7 5.f4 h5
* Campomanes Attack: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6

B16

* Finnish Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 h6
* Nimzovich; Bronstein-Larsen: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6

B17

* Karpov Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7
* Smyslov Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Bc4 Ngf6 6.Ng5 e6 7.Qe2 Nb6
* Tiviakov-Fischer Attack: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Bc4 Ngf6 6.Nxf6+ Nxf6
* Kasparov Attack: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Ng3
* Ivanchuk Defense: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Ng5 Ndf6

B18

* Classical Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5
* Flohr Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nh3

B19

* Seirawan Variation: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3

Trivia

1. In "Frasier", season 3 episode 18 ("Chess Pains"), Martin Crane beats Frasier for the first time when he accidentally stumbles into the Panov-Botvinnik attack.

Further reading

*
*
* The ABC of the Caro Kann, Andrew Martin, ChessBase Publications, 2007, Fritz Trainer DVD.

References


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