Caro-Kann Defense - How to Play the e-pawn Openings - The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

Book Seven

How to Play the e-pawn Openings

Caro-Kann Defense

Like the French Defense, the Caro-Kann Defense (1.e4 c6) allows White to build a broad pawn center and then challenges that center with 2…d5. But, since Black plays 1…c6 instead of 1…e6, it follows that in most variations his light-square bishop is not imprisoned.

This is definitely a defense for players who want a solid, even position with little chance of complications. A player who wants to avoid risks and who is satisfied with a draw should favor this defense.

(a) Classical Variation

Caro-Kann Defense

White - Black

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5

Note that White has little to gain from 3.e5 Bf5!. For example 4.Bd3 Bxd3 5.Qxd3 e6 6.Nf3 Qb6 7.0-0 c5 etc.

3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.h4 h6 8.Bd3 (D)


Position after 8.Bd3

White has decided to exchange bishops, as Black’s light-square bishop was too well placed. The exchange increases White’s lead in development and gains time for castling on the queenside.

8…Bxd3 9.Qxd3 e6 10.Bd2 Ngf6 11.0-0-0 Qc7 12.Kb1 0-0-0 13.c4! c5

White continues 14.Bc3! with distinctly more freedom for his pieces and strong pressure on the center. However, Black has no weak points and is well equipped for careful defense.

(b) 3.Nc3 Variation with 4…Nf6

Caro-Kann Defense

White - Black

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ (D)


Position after 5.Nxf6+

Whichever way Black captures he remains with a theoretical disadvantage, as his doubled pawns are a positional weakness. White, on the other hand, has a clear majority of pawns on the queenside, which will eventually be converted into a passed pawn.


Or 5…gxf6 6.Ne2! with a favorable setup for White, for example 6…Bf5 7.Ng3 Bg6 8.h4 h6 9.h5 Bh7 10.c3 Qb6 11.Bc4 etc.

6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be2 Bd6 8.0-0 0-0 9.c4! Re8 10.Re1 Nd7 11.Bd2 Qc7 12.h3! Bh5 13.Bc3!

White has greater command of the board and his potential passed pawn (after an eventual d4-d5) gives him a marked positional advantage.

(c) 3.Nc3 Variation with 4…Nd7

Caro-Kann Defense

White - Black

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Ng3 e6 (D)


Position after 6…e6

By avoiding 4…Nf6 Black has eliminated the possibility of getting doubled pawns. However, his position shows signs of becoming unpleasantly constricted. (His light-square bishop has no move!)

7.Bd3 Bd6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qe2 Qc7 10.Ne4 Bf4

White’s development has been more efficient and he has more room for his pieces.

(d) Exchange Variation with 4.c4

Caro-Kann Defense

White - Black

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4

Note that 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 gives Black an easy game.

4…Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 (D)


Position after 5…Nc6

White’s only hope for initiative is to put more pressure on the center - hence 6.Bg5 - but Black can parry adequately.

6.Bg5 e6 7.Nf3 Be7 8.c5 0-0 9.Rc1 Ne4! 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.Be2 Rd8!

Black has equal prospects, as he is able to free himself after 12.0-0 with 12…e5!.