Solid Repertoire against the Caro-Kann
Yuriy Krykun has already authored several amazing databases for Modern Chess.
In this work, he comes up with another theoretical research on a rather difficult topic. As the author admits, he had two goals in mind, the first one being to offer a promising weapon against the Caro-Kann Defence, while the second one was to not overload the readers with information and heavy theoretical lines where we only begin analysis on move 25.
So, up to his reputation of a creative analyst, Yuriy came up with a very unexplored line that has been trending in years 2019-2020, namely 1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d3!?
As the author explains, “The first game that featured this line was played, according to my database, back in 1952! But, the next one took place only in 1983, and generally, this line was considered lame and never saw the spotlight until 2018-2019, where all the elite players suddenly picked it up! White is tempting Black to trade queens and go for the endgame. This endgame will be very similar to the Philidor endgame and to the Anti-Grunfeld one, but with some additional perks for White as ...c7-c6 proves a rather weakening move. ”
This is a very compact and practical piece of research.
The current database consists of 8 theoretical chapters, 2 model games and 8 test positions.
In the first 4 chapters, the author tackles Black's other possibilities on move 3 except for 3...dxe4, which is the main move by far.
Namely, Chapter 1 deals with the objectively bad variations 3...e6 and 3...Nf6.
However, as Yuriy points out, we still need to know what we are doing, as the positions might rather resemble the French Defence. Also, those moves have been tried by strong GMs, such as Firouzja and Tari, which clearly means there might be some merit to them. As soon as on move 4, we will be off the main theoretical roads!
The author has done a very extensive research to make sure this database stands up against the sources that recommend the Caro-Kann for Black. For example, in Chapter 2, he compares his analysis to variations given by the Italian GM Francisco Rambaldi in his book on the Caro-Kann published in the April of 2020, which is clearly a very recent source. Rambaldi recommends the rare 3...Qc7
FM Krykun proves that White can pose at least practical problems as long as he knows what he's doing.
Later, in Chapter 3, Yuriy is covering the move 3...g6.
As he explains, “A rather passive-looking move, which however does make quite a lot of sense, since the White pawn is on d3. However, I think that we can tackle this idea in two attractive ways, so let's dive right in!”
He offers a solid as well as a more dynamic and unbalanced approach for White.
Then, in Chapter 4, the author deals with the continuation 3...Bg4.
Since the whole line with 3.d3 is reasonably similar-looking to the Two Knights, Yuriy believes you will see this move a lot (and the statistics definitely prove this is the case!). In this chapter, we are up to some early novelties, piece sacrifices and tactical fireworks! At the same time, FM Krykun keeps mentioning it is always possible to instead continue in a calm, positional manner.
Chapters 5 to 8 are devoted to the very main issue: what happens if Black simply takes on e4 and trades queens?
Chapter 5 tackles the move 3...dxe4, when after 4.dxe4 Black does not take on d1.
It might seem surprising to have such a chapter since in 98-99% of games Black took the queen, but Yuriy wanted to be very thorough and prepare you for what can happen.
He quotes another similar line to explain why you'd rather want to know what you're doing in that position.
“Let us now have a small chapter where we will discuss how we will be setting our pieces up if Black chooses not to trade here. The probability that he will trade is more or less 99%, but it's good to understand what we will do if he doesn't. For example, in similar endgame-type lines, such as 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e3 Nxc3 6.dxc3, Black started coming up with ideas like 6...Qc7, so it makes perfect sense to understand what our setup should look like.”
He covers such moves as 4...Qc7, 4...Nd7 and 4...Bg4 (diagram), suggesting early novelties in multiple places.
The 6th chapter starts dealing with the endgame.
First off, Yuriy covers all Black's possibilities on move 5 apart from the main lines 5...Nf6 and 5…Bg4.
For example, such continuations as 5...g6, 5...f6 and 5...Nd7 are discussed. The list of players who used them can go forever - MVL, Artemiev, Navara, Dreev, Svane and many others.
However, the author proves a convincing path to a nice long-lasting advantage after all of those moves.
In Chapter 7, he covers the line 5...Bg4, which happens to be the most popular move (even though he believes it's not the most critical one).
Besides the theoretical coverage, later Yuriy also gives the readers a model game on 5...Bg4 that highlights interesting ideas of this structure extraordinarily well. The author's suggested move is 6.Be2, and after that such possibilities as 6...Bxf3, 6...e6, the main move 6...Nd7 and Yuriy's favourite 6...Nf6, which, according to him, gives Black good chances to equalize. In fact, what's interesting about this database is that the author also suggests numerous new ideas for Black as well!
The final 8th Chapter is dedicated to the most critical line 5...Nf6, which, as Yuriy believes, comes as close as possible to equalizing. He quotes several top-level games and Erwin L'Ami's recent work on the Caro-Kann “Lifetime Repertoires: The Caro-Kann”, suggesting multiple improvements. The main line runs 6.Nfd2!
And now Erwin recommends the critical 6...h5! but other continuations, such as Wei Yi's 6...g5 and the logical 6...e5 are also discussed in detail.
Later, the reader will find two deeply annotated model games that show a ton of ideas as well as 8 interactive test positions that will test your memory, as well as your understanding of the typical ideas.
Below you can try to solve 3 of the test positions.
Free Video Chapter