My Caro-Kann - Part 2
GM Pavel Eljanov released the second database of his 4-part Caro-Kann repertoire. Together with Part 1, the current database presents a full repertoire against the Advance Variation.
The starting position of both databases arises after the moves 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5
The current database can be divided into two parts – the first 5 Chapters are dealing with White’s less popular continuations on move 4, while the rest of them are dedicated to the trendy 4.h4.
The database consists of 10 theoretical chapters, 10 interactive test positions, a Memory Booster, and a Video Version (2h and 15min).
No less than three options are analyzed in Chapter 1 and from them only 4.f4 e6 5.Nf3 can be characterized as a rare one.
Even here precision is required and 5…c5! should be played. One of its points is to challenge 6.Be3 with 6…Qb6! Black has every chance to take over the opening initiative.
Sometimes, Ng1 takes another route after 4.Ne2 e6 5.Ng3
The chase continues after 5…Bg6 6.h4, to which Black’s best is 6…h5! followed by a timely c6-c5 break.
Eljanov is drawing the attention towards various strategical subtleties after the classical 4.Bd3 Bxd3 5.Qxd3 and a version of Capablanca’s famous queen transfer to the a6-square in reply. The situation strongly resembles the French Advanced with the significant difference of Black having already solved the problem with Bc8.
Chapter 2 is covering 4.Be3, by which White is trying to hinder the thematic c6-c5 strike.
However, the concrete reply 4…Qb6! is once again causing certain inconveniences. The sacrifice of the attacked b2-pawn does not yield sufficient compensation, and 5.b3 looks awkward, so White is left with 5.Qc1. After 5…e6 6.c4 the author is sticking to his pet idea to undermine the center by means of 6…f6!?
The pros and cons of this approach have already been discussed in the first part of the suggested database.
In Chapter 3 the sharp 4.g4 is coming into the limelight. It is best countered by the intermediate 4…Be4!
Without any fear of 5.f3 Bg6 6.e6 and now 6…fxe6.
As a rule, now and then, the advance h2-h4 is met analogously. It seems that Black can repel the early aggression by a well-timed e6-e5.
Chapter 4 deals with the former theoretical favourite 4.Nc3 with the idea for 4...e6 5.g4 Bg6 6.Nge2.
The author is focusing on the principled reaction 6…c5! 7.h4 h5 8.Nf4 Bh7, when 9.Nxh5 is met by 9…Nc6!
In that case 10.dxc5 Bxc5 11.Bg5 is White’s best with very exciting complications after both 11…Qb6 and the main choice 11…Qc7!? 12.f4 Qb6.
In Chapter 5 the review of the minor alternatives is concentrating on 4.c4, to which Black has once again an original concept up his sleeve - 4…e6 5.Nc3 Bb4!?
Here is perhaps the only exception, namely 6.cxd5 cxd5 7.h4, when Black is limiting himself to 7…h6, as well as avoiding Bf5-e4 in reply to g2-g4. Noteworthy is also his light-squared strategy and the contribution to it by 11…Bxc3!
As mentioned, the final five Chapters are entirely connected with the trendy advance 4.h4, to which 4...h5 is recommended.
Chapter 6 is starting with the bizarre 5.Bg5 and the gambit sequence 5…Qb6 6.Bd3 Qxd4 7.Nf3 Qg4 8.Bxf5 Qxf5 9.0-0
Black has to tread carefully, but he has definitely enough resources to keep the balance at least.
White’s main move is 5.Bd3 and after 5…Bxd3 6.Qxd3 the check 6…Qa5+! is essential.
Here too, it is possible to throw a pawn at the opponent by 7.b4!? After the practically forced 7…Qxb4 8.Nd2 e6 9.Rb1 Qe7 it makes sense to rule out the blockading idea b7-b5 by playing 10.c4.
In his turn, Black can improve his Ng8 by bringing it to the f5-square and wait for the most appropriate moment for trading the c4-pawn in order to expand on the queenside and occupy the d5-square.
If White is not in a sacrificial mood, then he can cover the check, even though all of these options have drawbacks. Both 7.c3 and 7.Bd2 are effectively met by the common 7…Qa6, while to 7.Nc3 Black has every reason to execute the c6-c5 break after the preliminary 7…e6 and, for instance, Paravyan’s 8.Bg5.
Here, after 8…c5! 9.Qb5 Qxb5 10.Nxb5 Kd7 White can add more fuel into the fire by 11.c4!?, but the cool-blooded 11…a6 12.Nc3 c:d4 13.Na4 Ra7! is sufficient. All these lines are explored in Chapter 7.
The subject of the next Chapter 8 is the most popular reply 7.Nd2.
White’s perfect set-up with Bc1-g5 before Nb1-d2 has been hindered for the moment, yet another benefit from the check is the opportunity for 7…e6 8.Ngf3 Nh6 9.0-0 Nf5.
After 10.Nb3 Qa6 11.Qd1 there is 11…b6!? with the sound point 12.Bg5 c5 13.dxc5 Bxc5! and Black seems to be in fine shape.
The last two chapters are covering 4.h4 h5 5.c4, the main line goes on with 5…e6 6.Nc3 dxc4! 7.Bxc4 Nd7
In the first one the various alternatives to 8.Nge2 can be found, as well as the main move, followed by 8…Be7 9.Ng3. Then 9…Bg6 is forced and Black is doing well after 10.Be2 Qb6! or 10.Nge4 Nh6!, as thoroughly explained in the annotations.
Finally, in Chapter 10 the major alternative to 9.Ng3, namely 9.g3, is analyzed. The author is coming up with yet another unexpected idea – 9…b5!? 10.Bb3 b4 and goes into detail in it till a complex endgame with enough compensation.