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

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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

267 Comments

  1. "The Hillbilly Attack,[10][11] 1.e4 c6 2.Bc4?!, is most often played by weaker players unfamiliar with the Caro–Kann Defence. If 2…d5 3.exd5 cxd5, Black has simply gained a tempo on the bishop." (From Wikipedia article on Caro-Kann Defence) I have encountered this a few times playing as Black. It definitely is a weak response.

  2. Main line:1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf51:50The Karpov variation:1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd77:48The Korchnoi and the Bronstein-Larsen variations:1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6 exf6 (Korchnoi) 11:10 5…gxf6 (Bronstein-Larsen) 12:24The Advance variation:1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e513:38The Exchange variation:1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. cxd5 21:16 (most commonly leading to the Panov-Botvinnik attack) …cxd5 4. c4 22:38The Fantasy (Tartakower variation):1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 19:04The Two Knights variation:1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 The Gurgenidze variation:1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 g622:38

  3. Any types of compliments is less for you ….. The contents if we follow properly then no needs of any kind of chess book …. a big heartfelt wishes for you … God bless you ❤

  4. Great video as always, Stjepan. I must disagree with one point, though: the Korchnoi variation is not any more drawing than the main line or the Karpov variation. This can be confirmed in the Masters database.

  5. You are a legend man! What about the Hillbilly attack? Why I can't find it covered in the Caro-Kann courses or books, while it is played and Carlson played it in Blitz games?

  6. 5:15 these are the most common moves youre gonna see2:30 theres in way no fing way that anyone on my level will play h4 EVER

  7. Seriously though, this guys videos are course worthy, indepth and well explained. Top guy.

  8. actually this is not the main variationin the main line black plays QC7 instead of E6 preventing Bf4.but this one was good and solid too!!

  9. Extremely complicated! But I guess chess is a complicated game!

  10. Thank you so much Stjepan ! Straight to the point and very well explained. Currently trying to cross the 900 ELO barrier, your content helps me a lot.

  11. Thank you for all of your videos. I appreciate all of the details about the theory and the different variations.I'm so tired of seeing all those "Crush your opponents" and the "Crazy Caro-Kann Traps!" videos that don't teach you anything other than how to memorize a bunch of moves and hope your opponent plays into your hands.

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