Exciting cuts in the Caro-Kann

7/22/2007 – Fire-on-board expert Alexei Shirov has recently released his eighth Fritz Trainer DVD, this time covering his best games in the Advance Variation of the Caro Kann. IM Steingrimsson watched the five-hour session with the Super-GM and found it entertaining and exciting. 'It is like an intellectually stimulating adventure film,' he says. Buy the DVD now or read his review.

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Alexei Shirov: My best games in the Caro-Kann

Review by IM Hedinn Steingrimsson

In his new Caro-Kann DVD Shirov is chiefly concerned with the variation 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nc3. The continuation 4.Be3 is also analysed, as are the variations with 4.Nf3 and 3…c5.

4.Nc3 is however considered to be the sharpest continuation for White in the Advance Variation of the Caro-Kann. Shirov himself has from time to time also played 3.Nc3, but he came to feel that after 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Black is very close to equality both after 4…Bf5 and also after 4…Nd7. According to Shirov, the positions in these lines become too simplified and the games tend to end as draws after 30 or 60 moves. Or if Black plays badly and White plays very accurately, White wins after 50 or 60 moves.

Shirov prefers to confront his opponent with difficult strategic and tactical problems, which the latter has to solve over the board. For this reason, he has most frequently turned to his favourite variation: 3.e5. In most of the games which Shirov chooses to demonstrate and explain on this DVD he has the white pieces.

When you look at the games with 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nc3 (4…Qb6) 4…e6 and 5.g4 through Shirov’s eyes and explanations, it is like looking at an adventure film, in which the black king plays the star role. And there is of course the fact that everything is made all that more exciting because you do not know which of the players will fight his way through the dark jungle of variations and finally emerge into the light.

Some of the games become very complicated very quickly, e.g. Shirov-Topalov Wijk an Zee 2003. Here a white pawn which had in one line advanced to h3 but in another remained on h2 could in otherwise identical positions have meant the difference between defeat and victory. Although this game ended in a draw and although both sides made mistakes, Shirov is happy with the game and considers it as one of his overall best performances. In his opinion, in complicated games of this sort mistakes are simply unavoidable.

Click here to start an extract from this video.

When all is said and done, Shirov has relatively speaking a lot to say about opening theory and about which variations he considers best for both sides. Even in lines which he believes to be absolutely critical for his own praxis at the moment, he shows options but of course does not explain everything. As well as learning about opening theory, one learns a lot about attacking chess, above all about how to set up an attack and what to look for in attacking positions.

Conclusion: I found the DVD extremely exciting and interesting. In my opinion, Shirov’s DVDs keep getting better and better, because he concentrates more and because he has more self-confidence. I think that this is one of his best DVDs. It is like an exciting, intellectually stimulating adventure film. It demonstrates some of the beauty of the game of chess and generally speaking awakens interest in chess. I can unequivocally recommend this DVD and I rate it 5 out of 5 possible stars.


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