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In this setup
I have the following moves in my database:
Against every one of these moves, 10.Ng3 and 10.Nf4 seems playable. Which one do you advocate against the different moves and why?
I would probably play Nd5 as this opens lines for the queen and the bishop. It makes a decent outpost for the Knight as well.
I would definitely play h6 here, ng3 is threatened, and id like to keep my options open.
I think he's asking for white's move, not black's. As white, I'd play Ng3 against everything except Bg6, where Nf4 can snap it off at some point.
I don't think Ne7 is a good defender for the bishop, and it's blocking. So I would absolutely think about h6-Bh7-Ned5.
However I can also understand people less worried about the bishop would go Bg6-Ned5 and if the bishop is lopped off at any point, hxg and maybe castling queenside as well. I'm not a real Caro-Kann player, but I personally find the attack over the halfopen h-line hilarious after people did so much work to get the bishop.
Ng3 looks normal. It gains a tempo on Bf5, which I would lop off there. It looks at e4 and h5.
Nf4 threatens Nh5 and it only attacks the bishop if Bg6 was already played. Maybe there is Nd3!? (No idea)
So I guess there are a few plans. My first idea would be Ng3.
In most cases it's going to be personal taste, although Ng3 will tend to fit in with more possible ideas later - so much depends on what plans you prefer to pursue as White.
But there is not necessarily a need to rush to trade the Bf5, nor should Black fear its exchange (although he doesn't want to be forced to recapture with the e-pawn).
Next time posting an interactive diagram showing all the moves leading up to your position wouldn't hurt, nor would identifying the opening by name and ECO code. At least this is how anal retentives think (like me for instance)
I realize you were probably looking for some reasoning here and not just a bunch of dry and possibly meaningless statistics but this is how I decide on moves in my turn-based games, by considering their popularity, winning percentage and more importantly how recently they've been played and by who. Of course my first inclination is to go with whatever move I'd probably pick OTB on my own as long as it doesn't look like a clunker after playing thru several games it was used in. In many cases I don't have a clue so I start playing thru a few or more games with whatever move strikes my fancy to make sure it still seems OK and hopefully to "get a clue" as to what the move is supposed to accomplish. Sporadically I'll look stuff up in MCO-15 if it has the line I'm playing and go thru a few columns and the FNs which is very helpful since none of my DB games are annotated.
I looked this up in my ChessBase BIG DB 2012 (updated to 01/13, with 5.5 million games) and noticed that the 2 most played Black moves are 9...Ne7-d5 and the 9...Qd7. All winning percentages are for White BTW.
After 9...Qd7 the DB shows
10.Ng3 10 games 40% LP 2008 Best Elo 2438
10.Be3 9 games 67% LP 2004 BE 2425
10.Nf4 8 games 63% LP 2006 BE 2742 Best player: Morozevich
10.a4 7 games 64% LP 2008 BE 2625 BP: Tal, Geller
Offhand it looks like 10.Ng3 is White's worst choice, not just based on the relatively small number of games played for all moves above but also considering the Best Players making the moves and their ratings.
9...Ne7-d5 and now
10.Ng3 33 games 61% LP 2007 BE 2550 BP: Geller, Van der Wiel
10.Nf4 1 game 50% LP 2007 BE 2346
10.a4 1 game 50% LP 2005 BE 2259
In ths line it looks like 10.Ng3 wins by a landslide. Of course I'd play thru a few games or more if possible to "get a clue" here, since this is all brand-new to me.
If black plays 9. ... Qd7 and you play 10. Ng3 Bg6, then you can expect 11. ... Nf5. Would you like that?
After 9. ... Bg6 I would play 10. Nf4 if I have to choose between those two moves. Not only for the possible exchange, but also because it strikes d5.
After 9. ... Ned5 are both options valid. 10. Ng3 Bg6 11. Nce4 might be interesting for white. With 10. Nf4 I do not get a plan right away (exchanging all knights does not give a real advantage to white I guess), but somehow do I prefer that move.
Only after 9. ... h6 would I play 10. Ng3 for sure, because what can you do after 10. Nf4 g5? Best is returning to e2 and you have given black two tempi.
White's plan is simple (but not simplistic); He will chop everything that appears on d5, util black ends with a pawn on that square. After that white may use his safe space advantage- so, in most cases he will play Nf4, not Ng3 (swapping the bishop for a knight is no big achievement).
At least this is the thinking according to Moro, who revived this rather forgotten variation a decade ago.
That said, the plan of Ng3 followed by gaining kingside space certainly (h2-h4 and such) has merits.
Both plans are playable, the choice is subjective.
Maybe in OTB, but Ng3 is preferred on ICCF.
1,it's whte move... and ng3,bg6,ph4,h6, seems worthwhile?