Caro Kann 2 Knights Variation - 4...Bf5?! Move Order Trap

Caro Kann 2 Knights Variation - 4...Bf5?! Move Order Trap



I was going to keep it a secret, this opening trap, since my opponents fall for it all the time in my blitz games, but decided it was time that this variation was refuted once and for all. Some Caro Kann players confuse with the 2 knights the advance variation, where it is okay to play 4...Bf5. They play this move on autopilot, without sensing the danger hidden in this old variation (popular in the 1960s, and coming back into fashion lately).

The tabiya is reached after the following moves:

Much to my surprise, the game report said that 4...Bf5 is an excellent move, but that probably means that if you know the best continuation, you can reach a defensible position. However, the chances are that if you do know the best continuation, which, by the way involves the highly computer-like move 7...Qd6, then you also know the reason why the natural move 7...Bh7? does not work, and wouldn't have chosen this line in the first place!

In his book '1.e4 Keep it Simple' Sielecki awards a ?! denoting an inaccuracy, and after some brief analysis and reviewing a couple of Alekhine games, it is clear to see why. The following game I recently played is a paragon of how quickly black can get into trouble:

Alekhine's Games

When I was playing this game, I had in my mind an Alekhine game that I had played through  a year ago, which was virtually identical to my game (with the only difference being Alekhine adopted a more traditional 2.Nc3 move order), except Alekhine's simul opponent resigned after 12.Qxe6+ in view of the inevitable mate.

*Although this is the game that I was copying, it seems that 30 years before this there was an even earlier game played by Lasker (which was drawn to my attention by @simaginfan in the comments) which included exactly the same breathtaking 11.Nxf7!! combination. I don't know if Alekhine had read about this game in some literature or just happened to come up with the same solution. For a world champion, finding this string of moves over the board wouldn't be out of the question. Since the Lasker game was a fairly low profile game against an amateur, I suspect the latter to be true. Anyway here is the Lasker game:

Apart from this game, there are 2 others in the database where Alekhine faced this 4...Bf5?!, both against amateur players. The next one sees Alekhine play 5.Nc3,which, seeing that he had such a great win against Bruce the previous year, is rather odd. Still it was enough for a fine win in the game:

Two years later in 1941, Alekhine gets the same line in an exhibition. This time, instead of allowing a mating attack, his opponent allows Nxg6, which leads to a positionally revolting position.

Analysis of 4...Bf5?!

First of all, I think 5.Ng3! is the best continuation, when black will most likely reply with 5...Bg6?! , I will just deal with any alternatives here:

after 5...Bg6?! I recommend the Alekhine move 6.h4! and in this position there are a few different moves that black can choose from, with the most common one being 6...h6

 which we will cover in more detail, but first here are the 6th move alternatives:

After 6...h6 7.Ne5! black's only decent response is 7...Qd6 but let's have a quick look at any alternatives...*Note: It is from this position that Alekhine (and formerly Lasker) got their beautiful miniatures with 9.Bc4!? and then the 11.Nxf7!! knockout blow. Also there is the option to deviate with 9.Qf3! (with the idea of ->Qb3 ->Qxb7) which Lasker reverted to in a 1930s game, probably (correctly) believing it to be even stronger. Whether you play 9.Qf3! the best move or 9.Bc4!? the trickiest move is up to you, and you should probably take into consideration your opponent's strength and tendencies. If you want a quick win go for 9.Bc4!?, if you think your opponent will see through all your traps then play 9.Qf3! Both are winning. This game (also drawn to my attention by @simaginfan )  is the stem of the analysis below:

Best defence: 7...Qd6! Black's only move to keep white's advantage to just 'slightly better'. 

Sample Games

Here are some example games of my own:

and some from grandmaster practice:

I hope you enjoyed this post! And if you are a 1.e4 player, you may well get some easy wins with this exciting Alekhine variation!