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related defences in that black supports a ...d5 advance before he counterattacks in the centre. however, i would consider the caro-kann to be far superior. the merits of the french that the caro-kann does not provide black are mainly that f7 becomes much much harder to attack with e6 blocked, the queen's knight is allowed its natural square of c6, and a ...c5 advance can be played in one move.
but, i argue that e6 is perfectly possible and normal in the caro-kann to block the light square diagonal, played of course after the bishop has been developed. the knight is perfectly happy to be played to d7 where it can support the knight on f6 and cover two important centre squares, c5 aqnd e5. in fact, often in the french the kings knight is played to d7 anyway. finally, i guess there isnt much of an arguement against the ability to play c5 in one move, except that c5 is rarely necessary to break up white's centre in the caro-kann.
and the most important arguement for the caro-kann, THE C8 BISHOP CAN ACTUALLY DEVELOP!!!!
in light of all this, how can the french be played more often than the caro-kann? it seems the caro is far superior. can anybody give me a good reason why the french has at least one advantage over the caro-kann?
c5 is the only available break for black in the Caro. And there are ways to bypass the Bc8 problems in the french. For example, in many QGD lines, Bc8 is a 'problem', but solutions can be found, and those QGD lines are perfectly playable.
I've always lost with the Caro-Kann. Black's chances are really bad, if the Master Games are any indication. At least I have some counterplay with the French.
One advantage the french has over the caro is that it is less drawish, the french player is likely to win more and lose more than the caro player but draw less.
Since we're discussing the merits of the Caro-Kann vs. the French, one nice thing about the Caro' is that the exchange variation leaves the pawn structure unbalanced - whereas the French exchange is dull. Still, the French tends to give Black more active counterplay.
No, the main point of playing ...e6 and ...d5, is that, if the center is to close with e5, black will attack the pawn chain with ...c5. That's where he wants his c pawn in this opening. Black should have sufficient resources to force e5 or exd5, some release of the tension, or else get different gains (1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 c5 4 exd5 Qxd5 doesn't feature the closed center, but black has managed to avoid being at a spacial disadvantage, though he hasn't equalized yet because white still has superior development). If black were to, after 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3, play 3...Nf6?! then e5 would get a space edge in the center, and after both gaining time on the knight and the fact that ...c5 would take an extra tempo, white has great chances to consolidate his pawn chain. Compare that to the french after 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7. Therefore, 3...dxe4 in the caro is supposed to be best, but this leads to a completely different game than the french; here black is trading down and neutralizing white's position, in the french black is breaking down a pawn chain. Black is ok with having a momentraily bad bishop in the french because he wants dynamic play against white's center. he will target it with ...c5, try to tie white down to d4, then ...f6 can win more control over the center and open the f file. These things will give him dynamic counterplay. So the caro kann is not simply a better version of a french, it is a different opening entirely! Maybe you should see some nice french games to appreciate how strong black's game can become against careless play by white. I posted a game that showed this, titled something like "an attacking game... in the french? By black?"
In fact, even if after 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 black just played ...dxe4 (a perfectly reasonable line), when it looks like a caro kann with a blocked bishop, black's light squared bishop will do perfectly fine on the long diagonal after moves like ...b6 eventually or even ...Bd7-c6.
I've gotten into the caro just because I can get tired of blocking in a bishop when playing the french.
thanks elubas. feedback appreciated.
Are apples better than oranges?
Having spent almost 20 years playing the French in rated OTB tournaments, and nearly as long playing the Caro (although my activity has been far less in the Caro years), I feel qualified to say they are more dissimilar than alike, and direct comparison will always boil down to personal tastes.
The Caro is the more conservative of the two. Black usually achieves a decent development, usually he will be able to develop the Bc8 on its main diagonal c8-h3 before closing it with ...e7-e6, and where White can force an advantage it is generally not anything to brag about. Nothing in life is free, and for the extra margin of safety the Caro-Kann offers, Black sacrifices a portion of his own winning chances.
The French is more combative, openly trading advantages for counterplay, giving Black more opportunities to play for a win than he normally gets in the Caro, at the increased risk of loss. Black saves a tempo on the ...c5 move he must usually play in both, at the cost of shutting in the Bc8 for a time. While I generally agree with Elubas' assessment, I wouldn't call the Bishop's problems "momentary" in most lines. They often persist for a long time. The good news is that when Black is able to finally activate this piece, it often enters the fray with strong effect. Of course, this requires avoiding getting mated first.
I don't think you have to be a certain "type" of player to play either of them, but it is true that they are quite different approaches to defending 1 e4.
Yeah, caro and french are very different. I do not agree though that the caro-kann is more drawish then the french. The drawish rumor of the caro is based on the old lines where black castles long in the main line. All new caro theory and play now points to opposite side castling in the main line. That totally changes the statistics. Caro is just as fighting opening as the french really and there is no "boring" variation white can force through like in the exchange french. To that add the extra solidity and sound bishop development (which is hard to achieve sometimes and does require opening knowlege from black) I think caro is slightly better, which might explain why the french is never seen at the highest level of play while the caro-kann is. The reason why the french is more popular at club level is probably because you can do better with less theory in the french then in the caro. If you don't know your theory in the caro advance, panov and mainline you'll be mated very quickly and it is alot of theory to know compared to many french lines.
I play the caro and find the games very enjoyable - a nice mix of tactical and strategic play. Especially fond to me is meeting the advance variation (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5) with 3...c5, which results in dynamic and exciting positions with a lot of traps for white especially if he plays 4.c3 instead of breaking his pawn chain. However studying the French is a must for Caro players because a lot of lines can transpose into [good] variations of the French advance and having knowledge of the French is useful.
After the main line [1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 ]
These are the game explorer stats:
And I find that very low risk good at my playing level because to get that high a % of wins or draws, white needs some decent opening knowledge which is not common in the Caro at my level.
I must admit I enjoy black's chances in the Caro compared to the french.
While it's true the bishop can be locked in for a lot of the game, there are plenty of opportunities to either trade it off, or play ...e5 and open in that way. Anyways I look at it this way: most likely, even if it takes a really long time, black's bishop will at some point become decent (or off the board!), kind of like how rooks can look so clumsy sometimes but then in the endgame they're so threatening as they gobble up the vulnerable pawns.
So in many ways to me, the bad bishop is more of a dynamic disadvantage, giving white a potentially strong bishop on d3, but if it can't be exploited, black shouldn't be too worried. Sometimes you have to be careful about not allowing an endgame where the bishop is totally chained, but I think it's very avoidable.
I just like avoiding endgames in general....
I like endgames as long as there aren't all those insane tricks you could never think of over the board if you're no good (rook and pawn endgames, that's you! Also, some of the "basic mates", most notably queen vs rook, have relentless difficulty due to the high difficulty of even finding a good pattern. I've been working on it for a while and it'll still take me long to master.). But then I don't know what should qualify as an endgame. I'm more of a queenless middlegame player.
agreed entirely with atahanT. saying the french provides more counterplay than the caro-kann to the point where the caro-kann is a drawn game is a blanket statement which only maintains some truth in the main lines of the caro-kann. however, with the knowledge that black can easily play for a draw within the caro-kann after the traditional main line, no self-respecting player would enter this line as white, for they are most certainly playing for the win, and to enter this line with the hopes of winning would be hoping for black to make a mistake, not a reliable way to play chess. of course, there are exceptions to this, lines where white can play for a winning edge in the main line, but generally, if white wishes to seek a win he will have to play out of the main lines, making the caro-kann's reputation as drawish a flawed consensus.
and btw, please stop with the insistence that i am declaring the french and the caro-kann to be the same openings, with the same strategical ideas and goals for black. if you actually read my topic post, i only said they were related, which they are, if only in the small way that they rely on a supported d5 to break up whites centre.
I think it's safe to say I probably know more about the french than you do and you probably know the caro more than I do. The french is MORE popular than the caro kann. Neither are seen a ton at top level, but both are seen sometimes, your statement saying the french is never seen is simply incorrect. There are plenty of strong GMs who play the french regularly. They may not be fighting for the world championship, but it's a fully playable opening at every level, and so is the caro, even though that's not the most popular either. It seemed no matter what opening black played in the wc match equality wasn't easy, huh?
But what if white plays the 3 Nc3 lines? To me it seems like black just wants to trade pieces. At lower levels, white will probably overextend, and I'm in no way saying black has no winning chances, but I wouldn't call it the most "fighting" opening either. That makes it a more solid opening. The french has a lot of theory as well, in fact almost every opening has a lot of theory, I guess the main difference between all of them is how important it is to know that theory. Theory probably helps for both of these openings.
You, just like the OP, are saying that because of the sound bishop development, caro kann is just better by logic, yet the strategies are completely different. How do you know black can be more successfull in the caro? Have you seen all of the lines of each opening? There are mountains of theory in either. And also, I wouldn't fully trust what the theoreticians say, especially in an opening like the french that isn't looked at closely enough. I come up with new plans for black all the time; most of them naturally aren't ideal, but some of them are really worth considering and what I've learned from studying the french has taught me that we really don't have this opening totally figured out, and that probably holds true for the other openings as well.
When the theoreticians thought they proved the scotch sucked, all it took, ALL it took, was for Kasparov to play it with some novelty, and bam, just like that, it became more fashionable. And this has happened so many times, with so many openings. In a world championship match, certain openings are not chosen because they are the only good ones, they are only chosen because it wouldn't make sense to prepare for every single opening for one match, that would be way too taxing. It's truly a matter of fashion. Strong players today just tend to like the fighting chances they get with 1...c5 so you see that a lot. Any difference in validity of any of the other mainstream openings like the french are only slight at most.
So I find it incredibly bold that you go ahead and write off the french as a patzer opening... with the main purpose to try to avoid book (that's not really the purpose at all, the french has plenty of critical variaitons like the tarrasch classical, advance, etc, it's more about trying to get a closed game and a pawn chain struggle for those that like those positions), only because you're more familiar with the caro probably having not studied the french super extensively, only going maybe by who plays it or maybe some wise comment you heard from some random grandmaster. The bad bishop really isn't that huge of a deal. It's there, but it is not something to cry about. But yes, the caro is a bit more drawish if you're planning to take on e4 in exchange for no blockage of development. It seems to depend on what white does. Like I had said, black's bad bishop may last for a long time, but rarely forever. It's more of a dynamic problem. Will white be able to exploit his extra mobility and attack or will black grind white's structure down? That's what makes chess interesting.
And lol don't think I'm saying the french is better, it's just my preference, I'm saying both openings have their plus points, are, more or less, equal, and which one you like depends on your style. It's like saying 1 e4 is .001 better than 1 d4. First off, who should care, and second that would be very difficult to prove anyway.
once again, i think its well understood that the caro and french are strategically different. i think its well understood by both myself and atahanT that the caro and french are strategically different. nobody said they werent, again. please stop assuming i am saying things im not.
Compare counterplay in the french to counterplay in the panov botvinnik. In the french black wants to break down the pawn chain, accepting a momentarily bad bishop. In the panov black wants to exploit the isolated pawn, accepting a different, but about equal concession of a white initiative. Basically both openings accept different concessions and are both valid in this example.
While it's true that the French hasn't been played in a WCC match for awhile, one should not forget that it was used in the WCC "Semi Final" between Topalov and Gata in 2009, where the winner would get to play the WCC match against Anand. And heck, I'd say that WCC Semi final is quite far away from patzer level.
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