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I just started playing the Caro-Kann and I ran into a problem in the main line of the classical variation:
In a recent game White surprised me with 7. Nh4 instead of the main line which is 7. h4. After Nh4 Black will lose the two Bishops and have a broken Kingside pawn structure. Does anyone know the best response to Nh4, and why it's not considered the main line??
The best response is a move that ignores it, because White is wasting time in order to accomplish an unnecessary goal.
But then what is Black's plan for castling since both sides have a compromised pawn structure?
What of Black's plans to castle? Just don't castle immediately. Don't become a target. In semi-open games such as these, it is usually best to hold off castling until the opponent's motives are seen.
Long term white will be better with the 2 bishops, but in return he has a lack in development and black needs to make use of this. Theoretically its probably equal, but white will have some practical squeezing chances. There is a similar line in the caro kann where white goes nh3 and then nf4 with the same idea. This line may not be the most played line, but it is a definitely playable sideline and you can't really avoid it.
I think the 2 bishop advantage is quite overrated in such a position, the bishops although with quite a bit of activity, can be blocked very easily with black's rock solid pawn structure. I would not mind playing black against anyone.
it's one of those positions where it is a theoretically fine to play, but practically white may have slightly more chances.
White has slightly more chances in a game with hardly any chances at all.
yes this is exactly what I am trying to say.
Completely harmless as White wastes valuable time in the opening to exchange a piece Black will end up trading sooner or later anyway.
Doubled pawns are only a weakness if they are also isolated or if the doubled pawn cripples a potential majority so a passed pawn can no longer be created. In this case, they give Black a half-open file for his Rook and he doesn't even have to spend a tempo moving his Rook onto it!
And as a matter of practice in the 4 ...Bf5 lines, Black ends up castling Queenside more often than not. It's not "compromised" in any real sense. Black will have to play ...Kb8, more than likely, but that is often the price of security after 0-0-0 for either side in any opening. Maybe he will have to play ...Bd6 before ...Kb8 but, again, that's a standard move in this line.
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