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Help from fellow CK players requested! I have difficulties refuting out-of-book moves by my opponents. Freqently, I end up crammed as black in the advance variation, often with problems developing my kingside.
Problem 1: How to best deal with an early Bd3? My trusted MCO lists Be2 as the only playable move (I think I have never encountered that move!)
Problem 2: How to deal with white pushing c4 early on? Like 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. c4?!
Problem 3: How does one deal with early Nd2-Nb3 delaying the c5 push (and sometimes even trying to place the knight at c5!). Say opponent plays Nd2 instead of Nf3, or possibly the move after that.
Problem 4: This applies to blitz games mostly: opponent going 4. g4 kicking my bishop around, i.e: 4. ... Be4 5. f3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Bd3 Bxd3 8. Qxd3 e6 ... after f4 it does not look too appetizing to castle kingside for black. Generally I find g4 pesky, also when my knight finally gets to f5.
Problem 5: My general development plan on the king side is Ne7-Nf5 and then Be7 followed by 0-0. Often this is too slow, and my opponent manages to launch an attack before I am castled. What's the usual path to getting castled?
Issue #1: Exchange it! Happily! You're playing a light square defense here, anyway. Even though your bishop is out from behind the chain, it's not performing any crucial role for you, and the locked center is going to limit its scope for a while. Likewise, the last thing white ought to want to do is lose his light square bishop. It's like white solves your initial strategic problem for you, right out of the gate.
Problem #2: capture it. The half-open file certainly isn't going to hurt you any, and losing the e-pawn doesn't compromise your pawn structure. After Nd7 and Nb6, you're going to chase the bishop away from c4 anyway, and d5 is going to be a nice, juicy square on which to post a piece at some point.
Your trusted MCO is unfortunately only a very very abridged "Readers Digest" version of an openings encyclopedia. Trust me, I own BCO, ECO, MCO and NCO and all of them put together don't begin to equal my ChessBase BIG DB 2011 (5.3 million games with TWIC updates and still growing, every week) for current chess theory.
If you can afford to you need to graduate from MCO to something like ChessBase BIG DB from the last 3-4 years, which you can update yourself for free although it will be time-consuming. Otherwise you may need to start investing in specialized opening books. At any rate, it's about time to realize the MCO is NOT the alpha and the omega of opening theory...sorry to rain on your parade here.
BTW you could start looking up your own answers at the game explorer right here for starters, and at least get a clue as to what other players are doing in your positions and how well they're succeeding or failing with the moves they play.
Is this a joke? Ordinarily you must ask why would you choose to play a defence if you do not know the most basic opening moves? You would study it first or choose a different opening. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a beginner experimenting with any opening but you have rating of 2116. Even a player with a lowly rating like mine could figure out a reasonable course of action without an opening book. Why would you have any trouble at all? So....is this a joke?
I think he IS studying it. He chooses to study by playing, and learning as he goes. That sounds a lot more fun to me than sitting next to a fireplace with some dry opening manual for weeks before taking to the chessboard.
Now, you could argue that anybody at this stage of development might be better off with 1...e5 and good, solid opening principles in place of theory. But you could argue that having more fun and playing a defense he likes is more important, too. Nobody improves when they get bored and quit, after all.
Problem #1: My personal favorite that I learned from watching Nigel Short's blitz games is 4...Bxd3 5.Qxd3 e6 6.Nf3 Qa5+ followed by Qa6. This forces white to either trade off the queens or deal with not being able to castle kingside right away since the f1 square is covered. Either way, black gets a comfortable middlegame.
Problem #2: I disagree with capturing it right away. There are little tempo tricks you can pull off by waiting until white attempts to develope the light bishop. I would play something like 5...Ne7 6.Nc3 Nd7 7.Be2 and here you would take on c4 to cause the light bishop to lose tempo having to recapture. Now if white is a noob and pushes c5 instead of developing as in 5...Ne7 5.c5?!, I've found you can immediately contest this and gain the initiative with 5...b6 6.b4 a5! and white has to deal with a collapsing queenside.
Problem #3: Technically, Nb3 doesn't stop black from playing c5 anyway. You just have to use Qa5+ as your threat. For example: 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nd2 e6 5. Nb3 c5 6. dxc5 Bxc5 7. Nxc5 Qa5+ and black recaptures the piece.
Problem #4: I'm a fan of the immediate Bg6 followed by h5 instead of h6. This puts the question to the g-pawn. If white decides to advance it, then black gets total control of the f5 square after playing e6. You'll aim to plant your knight or even the bishop on f5 as this not only prevents white from pawn storming with the f-pawn, but also gives you excellent influence on the d4 square. If white ignores the threat on the g-pawn and plays the tricky e6 pawn push, I prefer the safer Qd6 approach, which then allows me to eventually castle queenside and play down the half-open e-file. White usually doesn't expect this line, and I often get easy wins once they start floundering trying to figure out how to proceed. Example: 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. g4 Bg6 5. h4 h5 6. e6 Qd6 7. exf7+ Bxf7 and from there, I'll look to play Nd7, 0-0-0 and then press the e-file with a well-timed e5 if possible.
Problem #5: Depends entirely on what white is doing. One REALLY important aspect to understand is when white aggressively plays f4 early. You have to play a control game rather than blindly developing. My favorite is to clamp down on the g4 square with h5, Nh6 and with the bishop on f5, white's kingside pawn storm goes absolutely nowhere. Black is then able to continue operations on the queenside with the c5 pawn break as usual. The technique of controlling g4 after f4 is something I would have never figured out on my own. I kept getting crushed off the board in blitz games by the early f4 push in the advance lines, so I cracked open a CK book and learned about h5 and Nh6. It has worked wonders in improving my results in f4 games.
I'll only say on the disagreement for Problem #2 that my DB suggests I've got the weight of GM praxis behind me! :)
Seriously, though, there's plenty to be said for the "battle for tempo" idea. All depends whether you like to crack the safe with sandpaper and a stethoscope, or prefer to simply use dynamite. There's a lot of room for individual style in this game. That's one of the great things about it. :)
But anyone who's using Nigel Short for reference will always be okay in my book! Love the way Short plays, and conincidentally, when I play the white side of the Caro, the Short system in the advance is my preferred methodology. Huzzah!
Your first mistake is thinking that if it is not a book move then you should be able to refute it. My advice is play chess. Analyse the move for its strength and weaknees, but don't get a bad game by trying to refute an out of the book move. White in particular can make second best moves, that allow you to equalize; but you will get in trouble if you try to refute them.
In Vassilios Kotronias states in Beating the Caro-Kann:
"I started playing the Advance in 1986; at that time nobody would accept that 5 Bd3!? could lead to some sort of game for White. Today, I think that the move is worthy of an !? and tomorrow --who knows? -- the evaluation might change again."
I think you're probably right, but after Bd3, black's choices are limited to exchanging, backing the B up or protecting it with the Q or g-pawn. I just find it a little odd that anyone with a 2100+ rating would bother to ask what the move is here.
Problem #1: exchange on d3, and you have an easy game. Oh, and just forget about "refuting" it... natural moves can't be "refuted".
Problem #2: Don't take on c4. White's plan of c2-c4 should be taken seriously, although it's best implemented after 4.h4!? h5 5.c4, or even directly 4.c4, ala- Morozevich. You must not take and activate white's pieces, but rather bring your pieces to control the crucial d5 square. You can consider taking on c4 only after white moves the f1 bishop, and surrenders a tempo.
Problem #3: the current trend is playing c6-c5 anyway, and surrendering the bishop pair, although there are other ways of handling the position.
Problem #4: I like 4.g4 Bd7!?,
but 4...Be4 5.f3 Bg6 is OK as well. But 6.h4 must be answered by 6...h5! rather than ..h6 (this is one of the reasons that you provoked f2-f3).
Problem #5: There is not, nor it can be any "general development plan". You act accordingly to what white plays.
Agreed. I guess I should clarify in that my choice of delaying the capture is purely a matter of taste and strategy. In many queen pawn games, black employs the exact same tempo gain of delaying the capture on c4 until white commits to moving the light bishop. In this case, it works just as well here, and even has the benefit of inviting white to wrongly play c5. The downside is it allows white a couple more options than if black takes on c4 right away.
Anyway, I'm a huge fan of the CK. There are very few lines that white can play in it that actually bother me. Far fewer than any of the other defenses I've tried.
The ...Qa6 idea is fairly typical in the advance CK. Say:
This improves on established theory, and gives black at least an equal game.
I must say, I'm surprised at the amount of support the don't-take-on-c4 idea seems to have generated.
I do agree that the delay, buildup, and preparation to both gain a tempo and contol d5 seems to mesh best with traditional understanding of strategy.
But in the particulars of this instance, ...dxc4 5.Bxc4 Nd7 6.Nc3 Nb6 7.Bb3 Ne7 seems to have black poised to handle all those problems quite nicely, and if black surrendered a tempo in capturing c4, he seems to have gotten it back by driving the bishop back to b3. Which isn't exactly a dream square for white's piece, anyway...so maybe another tempo later on when he has to reposition it to c2. Black controls d5 quite nicely, is set up for an easy Be7/0-0, and his game seems to be in fine shape.
All of which is only to say, I don't think it's fair to say black "must not take" in this instance. Especially when the masters seem to have chosen it by a fair amount as their preferred move in the position in question.
@ Simplejohn: Morozevich has played a simple idea against an early ...dc4: He takes with bishop, and then moves Ne2-f4. Whenever a black knight appears on d5, he simply chops it with knight, and white is left with a rather comfortable space advantage. Nothing terribly scary of course, but rather a good reason to delay ...dc4. In general, control of that square is critical, and black would rather have his pawn there than taking on c4 and bringing the white bishop towards d5 as well.
But yes, probably this is entirely feasible if white has already committed himself to Nf3. But Nf3 does not blend so well with c2-c4.
Are we talking about the same line, here? Because in the text, white has already commited to Nf3. Just wondering if I'm seeing that correctly, and/or if that changes your evaluation...
(Edit: I see you edited your own to address this!)
Oh, and to the OP: I agree completely with the premise of holding off on the capture if white plays c4 on move 3.
Just sayin', so that you understand we're all kinda sorta on the same page, here. ;)
e5-e6 is a positional mistake. White has a better chance with 7.Bd3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 e6 9.Bg5 be7 10.Nh3, but I think Black has no real worries. Still, I like Anand's 4...Bd7!? better, IMO this is the way to prove that 4.g4 is too loosening.