Panov-Botvinnik Attack – Fight the Caro-Kann aggressively ⎸Chess Openings

The Panov-Botvinnik Attack is the best way to fight the Caro-Kann Defense. Learn how to attack black straight out of the opening, and, if you play the Caro-Kann, learn how to defend against this aggressive opening.

Caro-Kann Defense – Panov-Botvinnik Attack B14 ⎸Chess Openings for Tournament Players

The opening was named after Vasily Panov, a Soviet player from the 1930-es and Mikhail Botvinnik. This is the most aggressive way for white to fight for an opening advantage against 1…c6 by black. The Karo-Kann aims to fight for the center on the second move (preparing d5), and with the move c4, which signifies the Panov, white aims to disrupt black’s central struggle and gain an edge in the attack. Technically, white is best off playing the advance variation, or the main line, but, practically, the Panov-Botvinnik gives white excellent attacking prospects.

The variation starts after the moves:
1.e4 c6
2.d4 d5
3.exd5 cxd5
4.c4 – white strikes on the queenside, challenging black’s only advanced pawn. Black has a few ways to respond to this aggressive move. The most common continuation is:
4…Nf6 – black is simply reinforcing the d5 pawn and preparing to castle kingside

The position is dangerous for black, even though he doesn’t stand worse. White has an advantage since black is the only one who can go badly wrong out of the opening. The weaknesses on b5 and a4 give white checking squares and paths to the king.

The main idea for white is to castle short and cause trouble for black by attacking the queenside (preferably before black castles). This is achieved either by attacking from the b5 and the a4 squares if black is not careful, or by pushing the pawns forward with b4, b5, a4, a5, easily forcing a passed pawn if black plays badly. Long-term, though, white is often structurally weaker because the Panov-Botvinnik Attack often leaves him with an isolated queen’s pawn on d4. In some lines, black can even immediately capture with dxc4, leaving white with an IQP as early as move 4.

There are 4 key variations of the Panov, and, unfortunately for black, he has to know all of them in order to be able to play c6 on move 1. Here are some sample games you should study to get more understanding of the position. You can easily find pgn formats by searching for them online:

Mikhail Tal vs Mikhail Botvinnik, 1966, Soviet Championship
Viswanathan Anand vs Anatoly Karpov, 1998 World Championship Match
Anthony Miles vs Artur Yusupov, 1985 Tunis Interzonal
David Howell vs Vladimir Fedoseev, 2017 Winter Classic


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