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I'm looking for a way to play against the Caro Kann and I found something called the Tartakower (Fantasy) variation. There aren't very many games played with it in the database, but it seems to have good results. Is it good? Why isn't it played more often?
Ah…the Anti-CaroKann is fun…for White. Once upon a time 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 dxe4 4. fxe4 (trading a side pawn –f3 for a center one –d5) e5 and the position was considered equal but 5. Nf3 does have its own sting. The modern way is 3… e6 4. Nc3 Bb4 pinning the knight with queen-side expansion ideas. As to databases, try looking up the world championship between Smyslov and Botvinnic for the highest level of play but for something a little more recent how about last week? Kyron W Griffith versus IM E. Formanek at the National Open in Las Vegas went 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 e6 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bf4 Bb4 6. Qd3 c5 7. dxc5 Qa5 8. Nge2 dxe4 9. fxe4 Bxc5 10. Bxb8 (sort of a reverse Baltic tactic) Rxb8 11. Qg3 (hitting both b8 and g7) Ke7 (how’s about Nxe4 12. Qxb8 Bf2+ 13. Kd1 Qd8+ look more interesting for black) 12.0-0-0 Bd7 13.e5 Ne8 14.Qg5+ f6 15.Qd2 Qc7 16.Nf4 Bc6 17.Bc4 Qb6 18.Rhe1 1-0
I looked at it ages ago, I remember some lines where black played Qb6 (polgar used this a bit from memory) are very annoying
Indeed, 3...Qb6 straight away is becoming the main line, and scoring over 50% for black in recent play.
Is it good? NO Why isn't it played more often? Because it isn't good. You should consider investing in a GP Opening Manual such as MCO-15 or Nunn's Chess Openings (NCO) which will usually answer questions like this one for you, or at least give you someplace to begin your research.
BUT maybe my opinion is getting dated (like me). Start using search engines more often, I just typed "Caro Kann Defense Fantasy Variation" into one & found what looks like a very good source of info on it, with several links to more articles on it. I'm bookmarking it myself in case I ever decide to try using this bogus (IMHO) line again. It's probably OK for blitz games though - until you run into an opponent who knows one of several ways to easily equalize (at least) vs this line
PS: The first 4 links in the above link don't work, but several more do. The last link in this article supports my curmudgeonly opinion at least as of 2002 http://www.chesscafe.com/text/mcgrew01.pdf
I actually enjoy it when white plays the fantasy variation. I use GM Sam Shankland's repertoire of 3...dxe4 4. fxe4 e5 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Bc4 Nd7 7. O-O Ngf6 8. c3 Bd6 for a nice double-edged fight.
I concur with NimzoRoy and FirebrandX above. The only value the Fantasy Variation has for White is if Black isn't familiar with it and is shellshocked by it.
jlssoft101 ~ You should note that Ed Formanek is in his 70s, is a math professor, and the game was in Vegas, baby! I can think of any number of reasons for his lapse, some of which aren't even named Candy.
The fantasy variation was used to win the Fantasy Island Chess Championship:
6.c3 followed by Be2 is pleasant for White. :-/. i saw Sam's AN and i agree that it's excellent for the lines he considered. of course the fantasy leads to many complicated and elaborate positions but objectively white should prove a small nominal edge in most positions.
And yet I saw Sam absolutely destroy GM Ray Robson when he employed the line I posted
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 dxe4 4. fxe4 e5 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. c3 Nd7 7. Be2 Ngf6 8. O-O Bd6 9. Nbd2 Bxf3 10. Bxf3 O-O 11. Nc4 Bc7 12. Re1 Re8
Seems just as reasonable for black as it is for white. I'd be plenty happy if that's all white wanted out of the Fantasy variation.
9.Qb3!? 0-0! 10.Qxb7 ed 11.cd Nb6 12.Bb3! Nxe4 13.Nc3! Nxc3 14.bc Qd7 15.Qxd7 Nxd7 leads to a slightly better, but still interesting endgame for White.
10.Qxb7 Rb8! 11.Qxc6 Rb6 12.Qa4 Bxf3 13.Rxf3 exd4 14.cxd4 Rb4 15.Qc2 Qb6 gives black a near winning attack. For example:
16.Be3? Ng4 wins
16.Rd3 Be5! 17.a3 Bxd4+ 18.Kf1 and black gets to choose either the simple pawn up game with 18...Bxb2 19.axb4 Bxa1 20.Be3 Qxb4, or go for checkmate with 18...Rxc4! 19.Qxc4 Bg1! 20.Qc2 Ng4 21.Rb3 Nxh2+ 22. Ke1 Qg6 where white has to sidestep several pitfalls the entire way.
I played a similar line last Wednesday OTB in our weekly club tournament. I played 3.Nc3 to feint a classical Caro-Kann and after 3...dxe mainline classical played 4. f3 exf 5.Nxf3 ..that's essentially a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit: Zeigler Variation
For all the patzers at the club like me. I'd say it gives very good attacking chances for white and some tough tactics on f7 for Black to cope with OTB.
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