The b4, Nb3-c5 maneuver in the exchange caro-kann
Today I'd like to discuss a maneuver I do often in my caro-kann chess games. It takes place in the exchange variation of the caro-kann. I learned of this maneuver when talking to some random person on a chess server many years ago. He was quite confident in his ability to win against the caro-kann in this variation.
I first began playing this variation (the exchange variation) when I read about it in the book 'Best Lessons of Chess Coach' by Sunil Weeramantry. Interestingly enough, I actually saw Sunil Weeramantry at the 2000 world open. Me and a previous student of his, Joshua Goldstein, were walking around and we ran into him. Joshua remembered him after a great many years (he was around 20 at the time, and last received lessons from sunil when he was around 6 or 7.). Sunil didn't remember Josh, but after Josh told him his name he got excited and offered to look up records of Josh's rating. Josh declined, since he didn't really care that much unfortunately. Josh's chess career is tragic, but I'll save that for another time.
To start with, I'll show you a game I played recently in this variation. It shows the Nb3- c5 maneuver (after b4 has been played). This maneuever seems to be very good. It locks down the queenside, where black is trying to get counterplay, and outposts a knight on a great square, c5. Perhaps the knight is not so great on c5, but we can discuss that later. Now, here's the game:
On move 17 white finishes the knight the formation: pawn b4 c3 d4 knight c5
Notice that even though white has a 'backward' pawn, the knight being on c5 completely covers that up and negates any negative aspect of having a backwards pawn.
In the game, black decided to exchange off the knight. That's ok, as then it is replaced by a powerful passed pawn. This pawn lead to black's doom in the end.
Now that you know of this maneuver, perhaps you can use it in your games! While you may not play the exchange caro-kann, where it can happen frequently, it can arise in many other types of positions (although not necessarily on c5).