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Caro-Kann Defense (B12)
1 e4 c6 2 d4

Number of games in database: 7140
Years covered: 1858 to 2017
Overall record:
   White wins 40.7%
   Black wins 28.6%
   Draws 30.7%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Alexey Shirov  77 games
Peter Svidler  45 games
Nigel Short  45 games
Alexey Dreev  88 games
Anatoly Karpov  79 games
Evgeny Bareev  54 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Kramnik vs Leko, 2004
Morozevich vs Bologan, 2004
Kasparov vs Karpov, 2001
Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1927
H E Atkins vs Capablanca, 1922
Topalov vs Anand, 1999
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 page 1 of 286; games 1-25 of 7,140 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Cochrane vs Somacarana 0-1391858CalcuttaB12 Caro-Kann Defense
2. Zukertort vs C Lehmann 1-0331864PosenB12 Caro-Kann Defense
3. Gunsberg vs Max Weiss 0-1301883NurembergB12 Caro-Kann Defense
4. A Fritz vs Max Weiss 0-1441883NurembergB12 Caro-Kann Defense
5. J Mieses vs M Kann 0-1241885HamburgB12 Caro-Kann Defense
6. Lipschutz vs E Delmar 1-0511889USA-06.Congress New YorkB12 Caro-Kann Defense
7. J Minckwitz vs J Bauer 0-1581889BreslauB12 Caro-Kann Defense
8. Gunsberg vs J Bauer  ½-½431889BreslauB12 Caro-Kann Defense
9. Albin vs G Marco  1-0181890Kolisch MemorialB12 Caro-Kann Defense
10. E M Thorold vs John Edmund Hall 1-03218906th BCA Congress (Amateurs)B12 Caro-Kann Defense
11. Maroczy vs F J Lee ½-½441899LondonB12 Caro-Kann Defense
12. Maroczy vs W Cohn 1-0511899LondonB12 Caro-Kann Defense
13. G Marco vs Von Popiel  ½-½381900MunichB12 Caro-Kann Defense
14. J F Barry vs F J Lee  ½-½5619016th Anglo-American Cable MatchB12 Caro-Kann Defense
15. J W te Kolste vs Leonhardt 0-1361903DCA Congress 31stB12 Caro-Kann Defense
16. Schiffers vs S Izbinsky 0-1361903RUS-ch03B12 Caro-Kann Defense
17. A Rabinovich vs S Izbinsky 0-1301903RUS-ch03B12 Caro-Kann Defense
18. Schiffers vs Yurevich  0-1451903RUS-ch03B12 Caro-Kann Defense
19. M Judd vs H Fowler Lee  1-03819034th Western ChampionshipB12 Caro-Kann Defense
20. S Levitsky vs S Izbinsky  1-0341905St PetersburgB12 Caro-Kann Defense
21. A Neumann vs F J Lee  ½-½301905Barmen Meisterturnier BB12 Caro-Kann Defense
22. A H Pettersson vs F J Lee  0-1891905Barmen Meisterturnier BB12 Caro-Kann Defense
23. H Daly vs H Keidanski  1-0231907NYSCA ChampionshipB12 Caro-Kann Defense
24. Tartakower vs Duras  0-1591907Ostende-BB12 Caro-Kann Defense
25. Leonhardt vs J Kvicala  1-0621908PragueB12 Caro-Kann Defense
 page 1 of 286; games 1-25 of 7,140 
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <dagootje>

It is a little bit weak because a black knight on f6 attacks it, and any defense has some disadvantage -- a rook at h1 or knight at g3 is tied down, while moving a pawn to g4 creates another weakness.

Despite this, the cramping effect of h5 -- which you already described in your post -- is considered to outweigh the weakness, so that moving the pawn to h5 is more popular than leaving it at h4. Or at least that's the way it was back when I used to play the Caro-Kann.

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: <dagootje>, I agree with <keypusher> that the pawn on h5 is not a weakness most of the time. As someone who reached Master rank using this defense, I had to endure a lot of games--win, lose or draw--when the pawn on h5 seemed to apply pressure on the entire King side, simply because Black's 4 pawns were immobilized by this one little pawn. ...g6 and ...g5 are usually horrible for Black: no matter how he recaptures after White plays hxg6, Black will have an isolated pawn on an open file and many weak dark squares.

C'est la guerre: no defense is perfect.

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: <refutor>, both 4.c4 and 5.c4 are sound but super-sharp lines. Hit the books before playing either side of this variation.

On the plus side, if you like complications, you'll like playing either side.

Jan-02-07  unsound: <any ideas about how to face 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nc3 the mainlines with 4. ..e6 5.g4 are much too sharp for the likes of me. i've been trying 4. ...Qb6> To answer <refutor>'s earlier question after a 7-month delay, another alternative (which seems to have scored well) would be 4...a6, I assume with the idea not only of allowing Bd7 after a white g4 as with 4...Qb6 (instead of 4...e6), but of letting the Queen support a c5 push from c7 unmolested (see e.g. Timman vs Speelman, 1991). I'd be interested in anyone's thoughts on that line.
Feb-06-07  wossip: I always find 4)..h5 gives me a good game. If white plays Be2 and wins the pawn, not only does he open the file for black but he also loses time, during which black hits the centre with c5 etc. Seirawan played this many years ago.
Mar-24-07  PositionalBomber: Does Caro-Kann offer better endgame positions compared to French Defence?
Apr-15-07  unsound: <Positional Bomber> That's certainly part of the idea--at least the Caro-Kann avoids the bad light-squared bishop.
Apr-21-07  soughzin: If you're going to play the advance with Nc3 I advise you to be awfully booked up. I can take a little solace seeing some players on the black side struggle with it too but it's no picnic with white either. I stubbornly tried to make it work again today and went down in flames. It was another game where white has space but few ways to better the position. Outranking my opponent by about 300 points I hung in the game but still managed to blunder it away grrrr, frusterating. He had plenty of chances to assert an advantage earlier though. White's play is so much more natural in the classical, panov, Nf3 advance and even the exchange.

The caro is damn solid, do not approach it with arrogance as I have! : (

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiskeyrebel: soughzin, wise words. I'm a Caro convert who ( switching from the modern defense ) took it up about 3 years ago and I've enjoyed good results with it against players rated higher than me ( I'm a 1900 + level player ). Casual, cocky play as white can lead to trouble. It seems to be a common affliction. CK endgames are often very comfortable for black. I haven't been whipped by an attack on my king yet with it OTB. Of course with best play at top levels white does well, but down here at the weekend swiss level the CK hangs in there well.
Oct-05-07  Bob726: A have a question about the line e4 c6 d4 d5 e5 Bf5 Nc3 a6!? This has been played by Karpov 5 times and scores very well for black (black wins almost 30 % more than white) but is it that it hasn't been played many times (less than 35 times in the CG database) because i can't see what more a6 does either then be a waiting move without shuting the bishop down with e6, or not wanting to bring out the queen too early with Qb6.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ron: There seems to be somewhat fashionable line against the Caro-Kan which starts: 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nd2

click for larger view

I'm starting to like this line for White. Here is part of a game I played which continued: 4. ... Nd7 5. Ngf3 e6 6. Nb3 a5 7. a4 Ne7 8. Bd3 Bxd3 9. Qxd3 Ng6 10. Bg5 Qc7 11. 0-0 c5 12. c4 cxd4 13. cxd5 Ngxe5 14. Nxe5 Qxe5 15. dxe6 fxe6 17. Nd4 ...with strong advantage to White. Here 17. .. Qxg5 would be a mistake for then White can play 18. Nxe6 which attacks the queen and threatens Nc7 forking the black king and rook, and the fork cannot be avoided, thus White will be up in material in this sub-variation.

Apr-03-08  The Rocket: why two pages with carro-cann with the exact the same opening moves?, theres this page and carro-cann classical(and of course steinitz which is different), its the same moves with this and the classical variation, yet different stats!
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: This page deals with the opening moves listed at the top that don't lead to the opening moves listed on another page. So that means that this page has stats for games that begin 1. e4 c6 2. d4 and then don't continue on to fit with some other ECO code.

Unless you have found a page with the same exact moves as this one?

Apr-16-08  Vollmer: I play the Center Counter/Scandinavian Opening and it can transpose into the Panov/Botvinik Attack after 1.e4-d5 2.exd5-Nf6 3.c4-c6 4.d4-cxd5 . Also 1.e4-d5 2.e5-c6(or c5) leads to Adv. Var. type positions . The more I study these two opening systems the more similarities I see . I prefer the Scandinavian Gambit personally but I have enjoyed the comments here as well .
May-23-08  Alphastar: <Ron> I think the 4. Nd2 variation is OK, but nothing special for white. It's somewhat aimed at restricting black, trying to prevent c5 at least temporarily. The trick for black in this line is to simply slowly prepare c5, with moves like e6, Nd7, Bg6, Ne7-f5, Rc8, a6, Be7, and only then c5.

<refutor: any ideas about how to face 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nc3 the mainlines with 4. ..e6 5.g4 are much too sharp for the likes of me.> I agree that the main line is very sharp and I too struggled with it. I doubt I'm ever going to touch the main line again which starts 5. g4 Bg6 6. Nge2 c5.

I've played 6. ..Ne7 with quite some success for a while now, but it's still alot of theory and very sharp. Apart from these two moves there is also the not so sharp but still very interesting (and it is completely correct) 6. ..f6!?

the main replies are 7. Nf4 and 7. h4. I believe black can reply fxe5 in both cases. A trap is 7. h4 fxe5 8. dxe5? Nd7 9. h5 Nxe5!
That line usually continues 8. h5 Bf7 9. f4 Qc7/b6 when black castles long and plays ..g5! at the right moment, undermining f4 or reactivating his light-squared bishop.

May-29-08  Alphastar: Pardon, I meant 8. h5 Bf7 9. dxe5 Nd7 10. f4. Qc7/b6.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: I just played this game as white in 10-minute blitz online. I really like the 3. f3 lines.

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 dxe4 4. fxe4 e6 5. Nf3 f6 (<This has to be weak. It doesn't even really support an e5 push, which is all I could see it being used for.>) 6. Bc4 b5 7. Bb3 a5 8. a4 b4 9. O-O g6 10. Nbd2 Ne7 11. Nc4 (<I block my bishop, but my knight looks useful here. I'm seeing some sort of discovered attack in the future where the knight moves away to some great location.>) Bg7 12. Bf4 g5 (<I really think that castling to safety, especially when so underdeveloped and with bad pawn structure would be better>) 13. Bd6 Bf8 14. e5 Nf5

click for larger view

(<It's almost too easy from here. I think I'm completely winning with every move, even though there are some stronger alternatives available. It may be fun to work out some of the tactics yourself.>)

15. Nxg5 Nxd6 16. Qh5+ Kd7 17. Rxf6 Be7 18. Nxd6 Bxf6 19. Qf7+ Be7 20. Bxe6+ Kc7 21. Bxc8 Nd7 22. Ne6+ Kb6 23. Nxd8 Bxd8 24. Qxd7 Ra7 25. Nc4# 1-0

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: <ganstaman>, I have no doubt that Morphy and Anderssen would have played 15.Nxg5 themselves. Wherever they are, I'm sure they approve.

Black's third, fourth and fifth moves were horrible. If you're going to play 3...dxe4 (3...e6 is so much better), you must follow with 4.fxe4,e5. In fact, I'm curious: why do you not like 3...dxe4; 4.Be3,exf3; 5.Nxf3?

Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <An Englishman: Good Evening: <ganstaman>, I have no doubt that Morphy and Anderssen would have played 15.Nxg5 themselves. Wherever they are, I'm sure they approve.>

My computer, reaching 9 ply in under 5 seconds (before I get bored of waiting for more ply, if they're ever going to come) gives it as the best move at +1.79: 15. Nxg5 h5 16. Ne4 Rh6 17. Bxf8 Kxf8 18. Ncd6 Nxd6 19. exd6 Kg7 20. Qd3 f5 (I haven't looked this through, don't know how good it really is). I just like when it approves of sacrifices, because otherwise I feel like I got lucky to win. Plus, for me, it's setting up such positions that is difficult. Once they are there, finding the best moves is easy. I think it was Fischer who once said "Tactics flow from a superior position."

<Black's third, fourth and fifth moves were horrible. If you're going to play 3...dxe4 (3...e6 is so much better), you must follow with 4.fxe4,e5.>

I agree. Those moves definitely handed me a real advantage that I could work with. In addition, from moves 6-8 I was able to develop my LSB to a good, aggressive diagonal while black only opened up his queenside. All these opening mistakes add up.

<In fact, I'm curious: why do you not like 3...dxe4; 4.Be3,exf3; 5.Nxf3?>

What, and gambit a whole pawn?! :)

Actually, I don't play against the Caro very much (really, who does?) so I only got to play the 3. f3 variation once so far (it's an ongoing game at gameknot as part of our New Year's tourny). I faced 3...e6, so I wasn't as familiar with the 3...dxe4 lines. It wasn't until after I played 4. fxe4 that I noticed that 4...e4 would be annoying and likely equalizing.

For what it's worth, Zvjaginsev's 4. Be2 (V Zvjaginsev vs A Belozerov, 2006) may be pretty good, too. Then again, 1 game with an obvious blunder doesn't really say much. Well, I can't find games with 4. Be3, so I just don't know what to do!

Jun-11-08  Alphastar: yeah 3. ..dxe4 4. fxe4 e5 is pretty standard. After 5. Nf3, Be6 equalizes, Bg4 probably does so too.

3. ..g6 and 3. ..e5 also seem to guarantee black a full share of the chances.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that 3. ..e6 equalizes, because there is a chance that play transposes to a classical french (steinitz variation maybe). However the caro-kann player might not feel at home because he locks his c8-bishop in for the moment.

Jul-10-08  offtherook: Any tips on facing the Caro-Kann as white? I'm having a difficult time breaking through this defense.
Premium Chessgames Member
  pawn to QB4: My suggestion to any player is to find opening variations that tend to lead to the sort of positions you like. Personally, I'm a cheap tactician and don't care for closed positions, carefully constructed defensive formations and the winner is the player with the deeper understanding of chess. So I find most main line Caro Kann systems end in my superficial attacks getting nowhere and Black strikes back down the c & d files after 25 moves or so. If your difficulties are along these lines, success for me comes through a) the Panov Attack or b) the King's Indian Reversed (if it's good enough for a master of attack like Leonid Stein it'll do for me). These have tended to give me blow-for-blow middlegames where my abilities as a cheap tactician come to the fore. Plus, my opponent may well be playing the Caro Kann because s/he is a positional player relying on experience and deep understanding of chess, in which case the tactical positions we get into may not be to his/her liking. First step, then, is to decide what sort of player you are. Here, as Tony Kosten once noted, it's a good idea to ask your friends. Their answer might surprise you.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiskeyrebel: Almost everybody I play the Caro Kann against in OTB classic games feels compelled to attack even when the position doesn't justify it. It's like walking through the bad part of town with a $100 bill taped to your forehead while flipping people off. I've tried to use this knowledge to my advantage and it has served me well.
Jul-11-08  offtherook: <pawn to Qb4> I've tried the Panov attack and it's not quite the type of tactical melee I had expected- of course, I often play King's Gambit, so I take "cheap tactician" a bit far sometimes. I've always played either Panov or accelerated Panov, but I keep facing the CK and not getting anywhere against it. I'm not necessarily looking even for an advantage, but just at least a complex,dynamic position with chances for both sides would be good. I'm trying out the Advance variation, and that looks somewhat interesting (especially the van der wiel attack).
Jul-11-08  Alphastar: <offtherook> if you're looking for a complex, dynamic position then the advance variation is definitely what you should be looking at. van der Wiel attack is extremely complex indeed but also lots of theory and not very hard to sidestep.

Myself, I'd play 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. h4!? h5 (4. ..h6 5. g4 Bh7? 6. e6!) 5. c4. A very aggressive approach and most 'normal' caro-kann players don't know how to deal with it.

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