I added this VIDEO on October the 5th 2022.

This is the final part of my Caro-Kann trilogy. In the first part I named six general reasons for playing this amazing opening. I also mentioned that I found a total of 16 winning ideas for Black in the main line. This statement is important for two reasons. First of all, it is the main lines we have to focus on when we start to learn a new opening. Don’t commit the mistake to read an opening book from cover to cover which starts with the sidelines and deals with the main lines at the end. Have in mind that the main lines are main lines for a reason. And this reason is quality. Hence, it is the main lines which constitute the most principled way to combat our system and where you can expect the most potential trouble. Now imagine, that you studied the entire book up to the main lines, only to find out at the very end that you don’t really like what you see there. Quite a waste of time, isn’t it?

The second reason is that one factor for high quality is the amount of distinct winning ideas a system has to offer. The more ideas, the richer the position, obviously. In post 48 I listed 25 ideas for Black in the “Deep Sicilian”. That is a huge number, but the e6, d6-formation is a monster of a structure (the most complex one in the whole chess universe, as far as I can see). It is difficult for any other opening to compete with that. Honestly, I was quite surprised to find that many winning ideas in the Caro-Kann main line, as this d4 versus e6, c6 pawn-structure is comparatively simple. However, there are two elements, which tremendously increase the complexity of the position: White’s far advanced h-pawn and the presence of opposite castled kings. But it is not only the quantity of Black’s ideas that matter, it is also the nature of his advantages:

In the last post I emphasized the obscure character of Black’s advantage. When I started to study the Caro-Kann main line, I was surprised to see my engine indicating =+ where I would have suspected = and -/+ where I was thinking of only a slight advantage. However, very soon I understood the logic behind these assessments. White’s position is simply handicapped by his multiple weaknesses and potentially overextended. Initially, this is concealed by the fact that the board is full of pieces. But of course, snapshots are no reliable basis for our judgements. We also have to anticipate likely developments, just as the stock market does. Everybody knows that most positions are bound to open up at some stage. Pieces will leave the board and then there is a lot of space left, which has to be defended by a decreasing number of White pieces.

The game of the last post was an entertaining attacking game. The following example is simpler, but I deem it more important, nevertheless. It highlights White’s multiple (potentially) weak pawns, which are the main reason for the obscure character of Black’s advantage. The pawns don’t appear weak in the beginning, but very much so, when the game unfolds. Needless to say that I am generally very fond of variations, where my advantage tends to be camouflaged and will only become apparent for the (ignorant) opponent, when it is already too late.

2. Static advantage
One of my favorite topics is the battle between static advantage and dynamic advantage which takes place in many complex openings. In our Caro-Kann main line, White has potential attacking chances as a consequence of the spatial situation. This gives him the better dynamic prospects in the beginning. Black on the other hand has a static advantage, as his position is very compact, while White has worry about his weaknesses.

As a rule, time is always on the side of the guy with the static (long-term) advantage. If White isn’t successful in converting his space advantage into something tangible, Black will open up the game and exploit White’s weaknesses. With every nondescript move White makes, Black will become stronger, as possessing a static or long-term advantage is equivalent with having a clear plan of how to improve your position. Hence, the metaphor of the slippery slope. The burden of proof appears to be on White’s shoulders. In many lines he has to do something quick, as his dynamic potential is of volatile nature and the trend is favoring Black.

Speaking in concrete terms, White’s best chances often consist in going for the sacrifice g2-g4 (there are other motives as well, but not too many), in order to avoid the above mentioned downward spiral. I have come across many cases, when this sacrifice turns out to be incorrect. In other cases, it leads to unclear play. Only rarely we see Black in real trouble. In the following game, White missed his chance for g4 and was severely punished as a consequence.

[Event “Klatovy op-A 24th”] [Site “Klatovy”] [Date “2018.07.01”] [Round “2”] [White “Novak, Martin”] [Black “Molkanov, Oleg”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “B19”] [WhiteElo “1945”] [BlackElo “2051”] [Annotator “Wahls”] [PlyCount “60”] [EventDate “2018.06.30”] [EventType “swiss”] [EventRounds “9”] [EventCountry “CZE”] [SourceTitle “CBM 185 Extra”] [Source “ChessBase”] [SourceDate “2018.06.29”] [SourceVersion “1”] [SourceVersionDate “2018.06.29”] [SourceQuality “1”]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5
Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bd2 Ngf6 12. O-O-O Be7 13. c4 $2 {[#] For the
uninitiated this might appear like a normal move, grabbing space and depriving
black’s pieces of the square d5. From a higher perspective, however, the
drawbacks become apparent: 1. The structure around White’s monarch is
weakened. 2. White’s c-pawn serves as a potential hook for the break b7-b5. 3.
The c-pawn itself might become a target. While all three aspects are relevant,
it depends on the specific course of a game, which will turn out to be the
most dominant one (in our example it will be the last one).} (13. Ne5 $6 {
was covered in the last post.}) (13. Kb1 {is best.}) 13… Qc7 $6 {It was
already possible to directly attack White’s structure with} (13… b5 $1 $15 {
, as accepting the offered pawn would grant Black a very dangerous attack on
the b-file. This omission, however, doesn’t spoil the value of this game. As
we will see, another important and more universal concept will be highlighted
as we go along.}) 14. Ne4 Rd8 15. Kb1 (15. Nxf6+ Nxf6 16. Qe2 $11) 15… O-O (
15… c5 $6 16. d5 exd5 17. Ng3 $44) 16. g3 $2 {By preparing 17.Bf4, White
shows that he is ignorant of Black’s intention to strike in the center.} (16.
Nxf6+ Nxf6 17. Qe2 (17. g4 $6 Nxg4 18. Rhg1 f5 19. Qe2 Rf7 $1 (19… Qc8 $2 20.
Bf4 Rf7 21. Ne5 Nxe5 22. Bxe5 $44) 20. Qxe6 (20. Ne5 $2 Nxe5 21. dxe5 Bc5 $19)
20… Bf6 21. Qxf5 (21. Bc1 Qc8 22. Qxc8 Rxc8 $15 {[%csl Yd4,Yf2,Yh5]}) 21…
Nxf2 $15) 17… c5 18. g4 $1 {White’s only chance for equality is attacking
the king, as calm play would leave him with the inferior structure.} cxd4 19.
g5 hxg5 20. h6 g6 (20… d3 21. Qe1 g6 22. h7+ Kg7 23. Nxg5 Qxc4 $11) 21. Bxg5
(21. Nxg5 $2 Qc5 $17) 21… Kh7 22. Rh4 (22. Nxd4 $2 Qc5 $17) 22… Ng8 23.
Bxe7 (23. Rhxd4 $6 Rxd4 24. Rxd4 f6 25. Bc1 Bc5 26. Rg4 e5 $15) 23… Qxe7 24.
Rhxd4 Rxd4 25. Rxd4 Nxh6 26. Qd2 Kg7 27. Rd7 Qf6 $11) 16… c5 $17 {[#] This
evaluation might surprise some readers, but it is a consequence of the logic
of the position. White’s nondescript play simply allowed Back to open the
position, thus exposing White’s many weaknesses.} 17. Nxf6+ $2 (17. Be3 cxd4
18. Bxd4 Rfe8 $17 {[%cal Ge6e5] would have been a lesser evil.}) 17… Nxf6 18.
Bc3 $6 (18. Be3 $2 Ng4 $19) (18. Bf4 Bd6 $17) 18… cxd4 19. Bxd4 Bc5 20. Qc2
$2 {This loses a pawn by force.} (20. Qe2 Bxd4 21. Nxd4 Rc8 (21… Qc5 {
[%cal Rc5f2,Rc5c4,Rc5h5,Rc5d4]} 22. Nc2 Rxd1+ 23. Rxd1 Rc8 24. Rd4 a5 (24…
Qxh5 25. Qxh5 Nxh5 26. Rd7 Rb8 $17) 25. Rh4 Rd8 $17) 22. Rc1 (22. Nb5 Qxc4 23.
Qxc4 Rxc4 24. Nxa7 Rc5 25. Rc1 Rf5 26. Rc7 Rb8 $17) (22. b3 a6 $17) 22… Rfd8
23. Rh4 (23. Rhd1 $2 Qc5 $19) 23… Rd5 24. a3 Re5 25. Qf3 Qb6 $17 {[%cal
Re5h5]}) 20… Bxd4 21. Nxd4 (21. Rxd4 Rxd4 22. Nxd4 Rc8 23. b3 (23. Nb5 Qxc4
24. Qxc4 Rxc4 25. Nxa7 Ne4 $19) 23… Rd8 24. Nf3 Qc5 $19 {with the idea 25..
Ng4 26.Rf1 Qxh5.}) 21… Qc5 {[%csl Rc4,Rf2,Rh5][%cal Rc5c4,Rc5f2,Rc5h5] [#] This move is typical for this structure, as from c5 the queen is targeting
all weak pawns at the same time.} 22. Nb3 Rxd1+ 23. Rxd1 {The rook is
overloaded and has to abandon the weak h-pawn.} (23. Qxd1 $2 Qxf2) 23… Qxh5
$19 24. Nc1 $6 Rc8 {[#] Ironically, yet another weakness will now leave the
board.} 25. Nd3 $2 Rxc4 $1 26. Qxc4 Qxd1+ 27. Nc1 Qf3 28. Qc5 Qe4+ 29. Ka1 Qc6
30. Qxc6 bxc6 0-1

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