Caro-Kann Defense (introduction, main variations & ideas) ⎸Chess Openings

Caro-Kann is a great weapon to add to your repertoire against 1. e4. There are numerous ways to fight white’s opening advantage and to get a lot of attacking chances.

The starting move of the opening is 1…c6, in response to e4. With this move black is preparing to challenge the center by pushing d5 (instead of challenging it directly as he does in the symmetrical e4 e5 openings or in the Sicilian Defense). The Caro Kann is a very flexible opening choice and it branches out into several key variations. Each will be briefly mentioned in this video, with the basic move order, ideas and plans for both sides. A separate video will be made for each individual variation where I will go into much more depth theoretically, as well as provide practical advice on move order and traps to set or to avoid.

The opening was named after Horatio Caro and Marcus Kann, two chess masters from the 19th century, who’d analyzed the main line up to move 17 and established it as a solid opening for black (which was hard to do considering the classical school of chess which frowned upon “modern openings” which don’t challenge the center immediately).

The theory of the Caro-Kann evolved a lot since then, and several key variations emerged. It’s now considered to be one of the most solid ways for black to fight against the king pawn opening.

The common variations are:

Main line:
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5

The Karpov variation:
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7

The Korchnoi and the Bronstein-Larsen variations:
1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6 exf6 (Korchnoi) 5…gxf6 (Bronstein-Larsen)

The Advance variation:
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5

The Exchange variation:
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. cxd5 (most commonly leading to the Panov-Botvinnik attack) …cxd5 4. c4

The Fantasy (Tartakower variation):
1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3

The Two Knights variation:
1. e4 c6 2. Nc3

The Gurgenidze variation:
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 g6

Players whose Caro-Kann Defense games you should study:

Anatoly Karpov, David Navara, Alexey Dreev, Tigran Petrosian


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