The Caro Kann
In chess the Caro-Kann opening is one of Black's most reliable answers to 1.e4. It is a regular favorite of elite players, who know that computer-aided preparation now threatens the sharpest lines of the Sicilian or Ruy Lopez (at the very least with a forced draw). The Caro-Kann is less susceptible to such forcing lines - Black sets out to equalize in the opening, and win the game later. Grandmaster Lars Schandorff reveals a bulletproof chess opening repertoire and lucidly explains how Black should play the middle and endgame
- A complete repertoire against 1.e4 with 1...c6
- Written by an eminent opening expert
- A rock-solid grandmaster repertoire
Lars Schandorff is a chess grandmaster from Denmark who is renowned for his opening preparation. His first book for Quality Chess ' Playing the Queen's Gambit' received superb reviews.
If you play the Caro-Kann when you are young, then what would you play when you are old? ó Bent Larsen
What to do against 1.e4? It is the oldest dilemma in the chess world. The answer my friend is perhaps not blowing in the wind, but still obvious: Play the Caro-Kann!
The Caro-Kann is solid, reliable and - this may come as a surprise to some of you - a great fighting weapon. The latter point may need a little explanation. It is related to the nature of the opening - typically in the Caro-Kann White has extra space and some initiative, but Black's position is completely sound and without weaknesses. White must do something active and he must do it quickly, otherwise Black will catch up in development and gain a fine positional game. That White is forced to act is what creates the early tension.
The reputation of the Caro-Kann was also affected by the attitude of its exponents. Playing Black is not the same as playing dull chess. For decades the Caro-Kann was considered to be unambitious. In this period you could say it kind of attracted the wrong people. Black's primary goal was to equalize completely and kill all the life in the position. This has changed. Nowadays enterprising players such as Topalov, Anand and Ivanchuk regularly use the Caro-Kann and it is not to get a quick handshake!
Throughout the book I recommend entering the sharp mainlines. This is cutting-edge theory, which means that one new move could change the verdict. It is rare that White comes up with such moves though and in general Black is in very good shape. And most importantly: Black's own winning chances increase dramatically by allowing double-edged play.
So in the Classical mainlines (3.Nc3 or 3.Nd2 and 3...dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5) where White castles long we will not imitate him and try to get a draw, but instead follow in the footsteps of the great Danish fighter Bent Larsen and castle short! Often White will burn his bridges in his eagerness to attack - and if we are not mated, then we will win the endgame!
In the Advance Variation we shall meet 3.e5 with the principled 3..Bf5 - sharp and interesting play is all but guaranteed.
I recommend meeting the Panov Variation, 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4, with 4...Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6. If White chooses 6.Nf3 then we shall equalize in the famous endgame variation. This is the closest we shall come to the old-fashioned dull Caro-Kann, but equal is not the same as drawn - we can still fight for the win. If White wants to wrestle for an opening advantage he must play 6.Bg5, and that leads to much more interesting play.
All that remains are the minor lines, which are in general unthreatening, but there are some fun lines. For example, the Fantasy Variation, 3.f3, has become trendy, so I have analysed it with especial care.
The modern Caro-Kann is for everyone. Good luck with it.
Copenhagen, April 2010
006 Key to symbols used & Bibliography
The Classical Variation
009 1 Introduction
013 2 Early Deviations
021 3 6.Bc4
031 4 6.h4
037 5 11.Bd2
053 6 11.Bf4
059 7 12.Bd2
065 8 The Main Line 14.c4
The Advance Variation
085 9 Introduction and Minor Lines
095 10 c4-Lines
103 11 Positional Lines
113 12 Short Variation
137 13 Shirov Variation
149 14 Introduction and Early Deviations
157 15 The Endgame Line
171 16 The Sharp 6.Bg5
181 17 Pseudo-Panov
197 18 Exchange Variation
207 19 Fantasy Variation
215 20 Two Knights Variation
225 21 2.d3
235 22 Rare Lines
246 Index of Illustrative Games
251 Index of Variations