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Caro-Kann, Classical (B19)
1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bf5 5 Ng3 Bg6 6 h4 h6
7 Nf3 Nd7

Number of games in database: 1386
Years covered: 1899 to 2016
Overall record:
   White wins 30.2%
   Black wins 20.1%
   Draws 49.6%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
PRACTITIONERS
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Milan Matulovic  16 games
Boris Spassky  15 games
Efim Geller  14 games
Alexey Dreev  28 games
Utut Adianto  26 games
Anthony Miles  23 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Carlsen vs S Ernst, 2004
L Milman vs J Fang, 2005
Beliavsky vs Larsen, 1981
Tal vs Kasparov, 1980
Ljubojevic vs Karpov, 1981
Spassky vs Botvinnik, 1966
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 page 1 of 56; games 1-25 of 1,386  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Lasker vs F J Lee 1-0391899LondonB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
2. Chigorin vs Von Popiel 1-037190213th DSB Kongress (Hanover)B19 Caro-Kann, Classical
3. Dus Chotimirsky vs S Izbinsky  1-0331903RUS-ch03B19 Caro-Kann, Classical
4. Teichmann vs J Mieses 1-0441910Berlin (Match)B19 Caro-Kann, Classical
5. Reti vs J Szekely 0-1761911BudapestB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
6. Tarrasch vs Duras  ½-½511912San SebastianB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
7. Euwe vs J Schweiger 1-0401921BudapestB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
8. G Marco vs Tartakower  1-0531922Bad PistyanB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
9. S Von Freymann vs Ilyin-Zhenevsky  0-1351924USSR ChampionshipB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
10. P F Johner vs Kmoch 1-0201925DebrecenB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
11. Spielmann vs Capablanca  ½-½291927New YorkB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
12. Tarrasch vs Capablanca ½-½471928Bad KissingenB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
13. A Vajda vs Kmoch  ½-½531928BudapestB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
14. R Grau vs I Pleci  1-0641930ARG-ch mB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
15. Alekhine vs B Stupan 0-1351930Simul, 29bB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
16. Alekhine vs G Kurdjukov 0-1351930Simul, 35bB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
17. T Borges vs A S Rocha 1-0121933Rio de JaneiroB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
18. K Kullberg vs T Sigurdsson  1-0241933OlympiadB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
19. L Steiner vs A Becker  1-0751935Tatatovaros itB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
20. Ilyin-Zhenevsky vs A Budo  ½-½321936Leningrad-chB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
21. Maroczy vs Keres 1-0511936ZandvoortB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
22. Szabo vs G Kluger  1-0641937Budapest m ;HCL 28B19 Caro-Kann, Classical
23. A Becker vs K Treybal  0-1601937Teplitz-SchoenauB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
24. E G Sergeant vs Euwe  ½-½271938Hastings 1938/39B19 Caro-Kann, Classical
25. H Kramer vs Euwe ½-½201940NLD m (Leeuwarden) ;HCL 28B19 Caro-Kann, Classical
 page 1 of 56; games 1-25 of 1,386  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-02-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  refutor: <gazman5> i'm at work, but i don't think i could capture either. at a quick glance castling seems better, but i'm at work, i'll give it a more thorough look when i get home.
Oct-13-05  Averageguy: Isn't Nd5 good after Bf4 ? I played at a tournament a few weekends ago and ran into that move. I dropped my bish back to d2 in order to get a tempo later with c4. I think that for black movng a piece to b4 loses a pawn to Qb3.
Jan-26-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gazman5: I like to use Nd5 as an occasional weapon in club games, because it catches a booked up white player unprepared. The main advantages of it are that it is possible for white to overlook some tactical shots that black has at his disposal. In some lines White's Queen can also get decentralised, while in other lines the Nd5 line allows black to get his Qside pawns rolling against the white King.
Jan-26-06  EricCartman: The Caro-Kann is an endgame, not an opening. 52% of all the Caro-Kann games are drawn, that percentage is almost as high as the Petroff Defense.
Feb-17-06  Averageguy: <Gazman5><I like to use Nd5 as an occasional weapon in club games, because it catches a booked up white player unprepared.> What should one as white do against it? Also, out of interest, where in London are you based? Just that I used to live there.
Mar-27-06  Karpyan: I'm just taking up the game again after a 10 year break, and have forgotten pretty much everything. Can someone enlighten me as to why white plays h4-h5, only to exchange bishops shortly after, rather than to play, say Bc4? I assume that the h4-h5 push it is to discourage black from castling kingside and generally just to gain space, but it seems that the h5 pawn can become a weakness in the endgame.
Mar-27-06  karnak64: <EricCartman>: what you say is true at the professional level, but at the club and amateur tournament level, I've found the opening to be far more decisive (one way or the other). <Karpyan>: I've played enough games with this now to see the havoc black wreaks when on the h7-b8 diagonal if white fails to trade it off. BTW, welcome back to the game. I had a long break, too, and it's been nothing but a pleasure returning to the game. I hope you have the same experience.
Apr-01-06  Karpyan: <karnak64> thanks for your words - I really regret giving up for 12 years, but TBH I don't think my level has changed that much. On the other hand opening theory....
Feb-20-07  WTHarvey: Here is a little collection of winning combinations in B19 Caro-Kann miniatures: http://www.wtharvey.com/b19.html
Jul-05-07  Where is my mind: Is there a difference between 15.Qe2 and 15.Qd3 in this line of the Carro-Kann? I normally play 15.Qe2 like in Bologan vs Dreev, 2006 but noticed Kramnik and Anand play 15.Qd3 Kramnik vs Bareev, 2003 and Anand vs Ponomariov, 2006 I was wondering if it made any difference.The Kramnik and Anand games turned out the same as the Bologan line after 17 moves.So I am interested to know if they were avoiding any particular moves by playing 15.Qd3.
Jul-05-07  nescio: <Where is my mind> You mean you had this long variation more than once? Amazing. I looked at the position after 14...Nf6 and perhaps Anand and Kramnik didn't like the line 15.Qe2 Qa5 16.Kb1 Nxh5. After 15.Qd3 Qa5 16.Kb1 Nxh5 would be suicide because of 17.Bd2 Qd5 18.c4 but with the queen on e2 it might be possible as after c4 Black has a check on f5.
Jul-05-07  Where is my mind: <nescio>Yes but not too many times, unfortunately I occasionally mess it up.But I got the chance to play it recently and wanted to refresh. 15.Qe2 Qa5 16.Kb1 Nxh5.Yes someone played this line against me in a blitz game at playchess!I lost that game,so I'll learn to play 15.Qd3 to avoid it.Thanks for the advice<nescio>.
Aug-01-07  xKinGKooLx: I play this opening a lot as Black because it is positional and requires little tactical knowledge early in the game. It is perfect when you are either playing for a draw and/or a good endgame pawn structure.
May-16-08  Alphastar: This is the old classical mainline. I've played the carokann for a couple of months now. First I tried 4. ..Bf5, then 4. ..Nd7 and lately I've been experimenting with 4. ..Nf6 5. Nxf6+ gxf6 (bronstein-larsen).

The frustrating thing about the 4. ..Bf5 line is that there is almost no possibility to play for a win as black, whether you castle long or short. Theory has been worked out that much.

So I switched to the 4. ..Nd7 system. This can lead to sharp play, but only i f white is in the mood. What I've found is that nearly all club level players know no theory of it at all, so most of the time you won't get the sharp play you want.

May-16-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiskeyrebel: Actually, I've had great results with 4...Bf5 against players mostly in the 1800-2200 range. My success is due usually to the over aggressiveness of my opponents. I have thought about adding the Bronstein-Larsen line to my bag of tricks to play in last round, must win situations..particularly against the lower half of the rating span I mentioned. Have you had good results with it? One thing is for sure, I'll never go back to the modern. It's fun to have a solid position!
May-16-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Karpyan: I'm just taking up the game again after a 10 year break, and have forgotten pretty much everything. Can someone enlighten me as to why white plays h4-h5, only to exchange bishops shortly after, rather than to play, say Bc4? I assume that the h4-h5 push it is to discourage black from castling kingside and generally just to gain space, but it seems that the h5 pawn can become a weakness in the endgame.>

I think that's a good question. The books say that the greater cramping effect of pushing the pawn to h5 outweighs the slight weakness. Back when h4-h5 came into vogue, though, Black usually castled queenside. Later on Black started playing 0-0, and it seems to me that Black was taking advantage of the fact that the pawn on h5 could no longer support a g4-g5 pawn push.

Spassky vs Karpov, 1974

So maybe h4-h5 should be reconsidered?

Also, there are lines in which White plays Bc4 -- you can see examples in the Tal-Botvinnik matches. But in general the White bishop "bites on granite" (the pawn on e6) while the Black bishop is very comfortable on the h7-b1 diagonal.

May-16-08  karnak64: <alphastar>: funny thing, but I've swung the other way. I used to play 4 ... Nd7 exclusively, but lately I switched over to Bf5. Different strokes, I guess.
Jun-04-08  Alphastar: < whiskeyrebel: Actually, I've had great results with 4...Bf5 against players mostly in the 1800-2200 range. My success is due usually to the over aggressiveness of my opponents. I have thought about adding the Bronstein-Larsen line to my bag of tricks to play in last round, must win situations..particularly against the lower half of the rating span I mentioned. Have you had good results with it?>

I have yet to play it against decent opposition. Against lower-rated opposition it does the trick usually. Low-rated players don't really know how to deal with the kind of positions that crop up.

Jun-04-08  aktajha: I think that against lower rated players you'd better play something less drawish then caro-kann. The problem with classical is, that if white chooses to play it safely, a draw is quickly reached.

If you choose for 1. ... c5 or 1. ... e5 I think you can more easily outplay them, since often more pieces stay on the board.

I'm playing French most of the times, but against lower rated opposition I'm a little 'afraid' of the exchange and such things, and I can imagine the same happens with the classical caro-kann (drawish positions)

Jun-10-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <The books say that the greater cramping effect of pushing the pawn to h5 outweighs the slight weakness. Back when h4-h5 came into vogue, though, Black usually castled queenside. Later on Black started playing 0-0, and it seems to me that Black was taking advantage of the fact that the pawn on h5 could no longer support a g4-g5 pawn push. Spassky vs Karpov, 1974
So maybe h4-h5 should be reconsidered? >

I put my suggestion into practice in this game from Round 3 of the National Open: 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. Bd3 Bxd3 9. Qxd3 e6 10. Bd2 Ngf6 11. 0-0-0 Be7 12. Kb1 0-0 13. Ne4 (clearing the path for the g-pawn) 13....Nxe4 14. Qxe4 Nf6 15. Qe2 Qd5 16. Rhe1 (I didn't want to play this, of course, but I didn't want to allow ...Qe4 either) 16....a5 17. Ne5 Bb4 (seems like a loss of time; my opponent was starting to worry and decided to try to simplify his way out of trouble) 18. g4 Bxd2 19. Qxd2 Nd7 20. Qe2 (20. g5 h5 21. g6 was my original intention, but now I decided White wouldn't accomplish anything after 21....Nxe5 22. Rxe5 Qf3; of course I wouldn't have had to worry about 20....h5 if I had pushed my own pawn there!) 20....Nxe5 21. dxe5 Qc5 22. g5


click for larger view

Now White can open a line to the Black king, but Black is far from lost. 22....hxg5 23. hxg5 24. Rh1 (instead of 24. Rxd8+ Rxd8 25. Qh5, when I thought the king could just run away. But f2-f4 might have been better.). 24....Rxd1+ 25. Qxd1
Now Black can't take either pawn, and the king can't run because the rook at a8 will hang. But....

25....g6!
Taking away the h5 square and threatening ...Qxe5 in earnest.

26. f4 Qf8?

Perhaps he relaxed too soon. Now White can take over the d-file.

27. Qd2 b5 (...Rd8 hangs the a-pawn, of course.) 28. Rd1 c5 29. Qd7 b4 30. b3 c4 (this seems overambitious; because of White's grip on the d-file Black is in essence attacking with his pawns only) 31. bxc4 a4 32. Rd6 Qb8 33. Qb5 Qa7 34. Qb6 a3 35. c5 Qxb6 (clearly the ending is hopeless for Black) 36. cxb6 Rb8 37. Kc1 Kf8 38. Kd2 Ke7 39. Kd3 Rc8 40. b7 Rb8 41. Rb6 Kd7 42. Rxb4 Kc6 43. c4 1-0.

Boring, you say? I never find my own wins boring. :-)

Jun-10-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: I didn't find it boring either. I used to think that the Caro-Kann would be boring, but then playing against it a few times I saw that it can actually be exciting if used properly. I'll in fact post a game I just played in the 3. f3 variation on the proper page.

By the way, it seems that you left out the move 23...Rfd8. Also, out of curiosity, what was the rating of your opponent?

Jun-11-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ganstaman> Oops, you're right. He was 1875. I am 1811, though that doesn't mean much because it is based mostly on games played 20 years ago.
Jun-14-08  Alphastar: <keypusher> I think black does best to castle long if white plays h4 but not h5.

After 'normal' development black will then play ..h5 himself at some point which fixes the h4-pawn on the same color as the white bishop. white also won't be so much in the ascendancy on the kingside.

Nov-21-10  rapidcitychess: I play the Caro-Kann as a back up. Mostly when I need a draw, e.g in a team tournament. But when I use it, I usually castle short, play c5, trade pieces, and try not to walk into a mate in one.(I did that in a game once :( ) Well, mate in any for that matter.

But of course, I use it to win too, (Do you expect anything less from kamikaze me?!?!) but often I get a kingside pawn rush coming at me. Something like this.


click for larger view

Then 1.h6 leaves me spinning. (This is just an example of course; there is no white king!)

So what do I do to remedy this? Castle long? Don't castle? Play c5 earlier?

Sep-25-15  Amarande: <An Englishman: Endings are very poor for Black if White plays Ne5, Black takes the Knight, and White recaptures with the pawn (the exception: when Black can win that pawn).>

... Good luck not exchanging that Knight, though. It easily leads to disasters, especially if White has played Bc4 in preference to Bd3:

<1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. Bc4 e6 9. Ne5 Bh7 10. Qe2>

A classic trap. Black must not play 10 ... Ngf6 as 11 Nxf7 wrecks the house (11 ... Kxf7? 12 Qxe6+ with mate next, so the Rook goes, to begin with).

However, if 10 ... Nxe5, White gets that cramping pawn - but the only seemingly OK way to avoid this seems to be <10 ... Qe7> after which White has <11. Bf4!>


click for larger view

Yow. Black is all cramped up, is nowhere near castling on the King's side, nor is that in the cards now because of the Queen's position and the White pawn at h4 (to not entomb the QB while developing the KB he needs to play ... g5, at which point the pawns will be torn up).

He also cannot castle on the Queen's side ...

The result is that White can simply develop in peace with very little in the way of a useful Black plan. Even such basic plans as playing to open the g-file after White has castled, or playing a Knight to d5 are likely to backfire badly (a sample variation is <11 ... Ngf6 12. O-O Rg8 13. h5 g5 14. hxg6 Bxg6 15. Rad1 Bh7 16. Rfe1 Nd5? 17. Bxd5! exd5> If cxd5 18. Qb5! <18. Qf1!> and Black can already resign!).

No, I don't really see a viable alternative to that exchange, unpleasant as it seems.

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