Introducing The Caro - Kane Variation

Introducing The Caro - Kane Variation


If you're here for serious chess improvement, you probably want to check out my previous blog post. If you want a fun surprise weapon to score some quick wins in blitz and bullet, this is the place for you!

I don't usually play 1.e4, so when I do it means I want to sacrifice and play for checkmate. With open games and Sicilians, there are plenty of fun gambits, but what to do in the Caro-Kann? That's where I had to get creative and develop my own, virtually unheard-of gambit. At this point, I've played it in 100+ bullet games and can present some findings.

1... How to play the Caro-Kane

Here's how we get there:

5.Neg5 is almost never played, so it has tons of surprise value. 5...h6 is the main line and the only critical move. Here are a few sidelines that I've faced.


The f7-pawn falls and Black can resign.


This is almost playable, but f7 is still a serious problem, White is better even if Black avoids the following blunder.

Now for the main line

5...h6 is possibly the only move that's playable for Black. 6.Nh3 would be depressing, so it's more practical to sacrifice with 6.Nxf7!? After 6...Kxf7 7.Ne5+ (my preference, although I've scored well with Bc4+ too) Black has a critical choice.

Ke8 runs into a surprising refutation!

8.Bd3, threatens Bg6+ and White's already in control.

Counterplay with Qd5 is the one way for Black to aim for any chances to defend, but it's still a brutal position.

The insane 7...Ke6

A few brave souls have tried this, but White's already totally winning.

But what if Black plays correctly with 7.Kg8?

OK, so Black is up a knight for a pawn, but that king is exposed, the light square are weak and in fast time controls, that's usually enough compensation. White wants to play Bc4+, d4 and if the e5-knight is attacked, then f4 as well. In my experience, Black nearly always makes the strategically dubious capture on e5, which allows fxe5, opening the file to attack.

Here's an example. Black gives up the queen at the end, but the threat of mate on f7 should already win the game


This one featured a thematic knock-out tactic.

But what do the big guns do?
Probably the strongest opponent that I've tried the Caro-Kane against was young GM, soon-to-be super-GM (perhaps), Vincent Keymer. He played the main line, but captured prematurely on e5, as most players do, and gave me a strong attack. I should have taken a perpetual, but got greedy and screwed up. 
So I can't promise that this line will bring you wins against future world title contenders, but it's a lot of fun and should score plenty of quick wins in blitz and bullet. Please give it a go and post your results in the comments. I'll try to offer a bit of feedback if I can.
If you enjoyed this post and want to read a bit of my more traditional chess writing, please check out my book.

Thanks for reading!