Introduction to an Introduction to the Caro Kann

With a grandmaster even their(his/her) introductions can seem too difficult to learn all that one would like.  However David Pruess's Introduction to the Caro Kann switched on a light for me and i thought i would try to share some of that here.  For lower rated players (1200?-?) i hope this blog will empower them to learn from Pruess's video more than ever before.


General opening principles include

1.  Establishing a Pawn Center

2.  Developing Minor Pieces

3.  Castling to Protect the King and Connect the Rooks

4.  Developing the Queen

(The order of 1-4 is somewhat flexible but generally speaking the given order is somewhat preferred.)

We also take as understood (at least vaguely) that one doesn't wish to waste moves, one does wish to give as much scope to one's pieces as possible, and one's position should be sound.  (As alternately stated by at least one grandmaster, the elements of chess are time, space, and harmony.  By harmony here we mean that one's pieces are working together.  In particular they are protecting one another - protection by pawn is particularly important.)

If white could make 8-10 moves before black made any move  (but could only move any one piece once), what would white choose for an ideal opening?  With the beginner in mind GM Fred Reinfeld suggested the following:

(I am doing this from memory.  I do not believe Fred Reinfeld was favoring O-O over O-O-O.  Nor do I believe he was expressing a particular place for the queen.)

Notice the emphasis on a strong pawn center.  If pawns on c3 and/or f3 cannot be established so perfectly, then probably Nc3 and Nf3 respectively would be preferred for white's knights.  Also the bishops might be more aggressively placed on c4, b5, f4, and/or g5.  (There are almost no(?) openings where black plays both d5 and e5 - now i am happy for anyone to tell me an exception.)






In our explanations going forward we will try to adopt the following maxim:

If white or black makes an other than "ideal" opening move as just now given, then there should be a compelling reason.  The reason can be either offensive or defensive.

Caro Kann - The Exchange Variation

We see that black was able to make "ideal" opening moves except for cxd5, Be7 and e6.  This is great for black and way too often black is not so fortunate.  Also note that if white had moved their queen to somewhere other than Qb3, then Bd6 instead of Be7 would have been fine.


  • 3 years ago


    If you [or anyone] is not sure what is a minority attack against the queenside--just google it I am sure it must be there with illustration.

    This is very important!  If anyone finds a link post it here please.

  • 3 years ago


    In general if White plays for a king side attack then Black should play for a queenside attack rather than try to defend  against the king side attack. 

    In this variation White has a space advantage on the kingside.

    [sorry if this is rambling]

  • 3 years ago


    Here I will just make some moves to give an illustration of White's plan and also Black's usual plan with the queenside minority attack.

  • 3 years ago


    I will  comment on this variation of the Caro Khann. [if you don't mind]

    White is playing for a king's side attack.  Black should be playing for a minority attack on the queenside.  The minority attack would be to push the "b" pawn and possibly the "a" pawn with the eventual aim point White's "b4" square. Then a trade of b4 takes v3 leaves to an open c file for Black and a nice c4 square for Black. [it would nice to have an illustrative game as hard to explain.]

    For White it is very important to place his bishops at d3 and f5 in this variation.  Here is a line where Black disrupts White's plan of having bishops on those squares. 

  • 3 years ago


    Continue! :D

  • 4 years ago


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