Activity and solid play: A Caro Kann recommendation

by ChessBase
11/17/2006 – The Caro Kann sometimes has a rather dry image. On his Fritz Trainer DVD Andrew Martin strives to prove this a prejudice and offers an easy to grasp Caro Kann repertoire with lots of dynamic lines and good prospects for Black. Buy his "new thriller" (Bob Long) right away or read this review.

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The ABC of the Caro Kann
Review by Bob Long

"This time IM Andrew Martin takes on the Caro Kann in the new ChessBase thriller: "The ABC of the Caro Kann." I can remember when, if one played 1. e4, or 1. d4 followed by 1. e4, if you didn't see the Sicilian, your chances of getting the Caro Kann was almost 50-50 (divided among the French). Nowadays there is the Alekhine Defense, Scandinavian, and a few other things (if we leave out the reply 1... e5).

The Caro, you might recall, doesn't block in the Bc8. It was a favorite of Capablanca, and Karpov played it at times, almost exclusively.

In this DVD the program starts out with an Intro and Game 1, and "Repertoire" choices. In fact, his repertoire is based on "Capablanca's Variation" which runs: 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6. And lest I forget, White's more "off the wall" moves are covered too if he tries to roll his own Caro Kann. (You know, when White loves to play d3, sometimes transposing to the King's Indian Attack.) Martin gives some good clean material in response.

All together there are about 15 games in the first couple sections of this 4 hour plus video, but it is more than that. Martin engages in "sidebars," showing what has happened in other variations, and with some prominent players.

The Caro Kann, as shown by Martin, can be plenty sharp, but there are also times when Black is looking for a way to survive and Andrew introduces us to new games to show us how to deal with White's flights of fancy. Yes, it can be done, and there are a number of draws on this DVD, but my memory isn't so great that I could remember all these games to get those draws against the stronger players.

As usual, Martin is a good actor and handles his material, voice inflection, computer, and the camera with aplomb.

Caro Kann - The Easy Way - click here to replay sample in reduced quality...  

Perhaps, the more interesting section, at least for me, is when White plays the "Advance" move order: 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. dxc5 Nc6 5. Bb5 e6 (blocking in the Bc8).

I liked Martin's Benko Gambit DVD a little better because EACH of the main games had the names of the players.

The first game is an interesting theoretical "novelty" from David-Khenkin, 1990. In the extended notes Martin gives several sharp variations where White tries something else. Martin also notes that there are quick wins and a "defense" which seems dubious and yet hard to crack over the board--and sometimes hard to crack even in home analysis.

Buy it now...

The Advance actually has a Summary. There are also 3 games in the Two Knights Variation, the King's Indian Attack, and the Exchange Variation BEFORE we get to the much talked about Panov-Botvinnik variations. Lastly, there is coverage of the "Odds and Ends" variety.

In the Panov, Mr. Martin believes that Black is okay with the moves he (Martin) gives. He starts out with M. Admas-A. Dreev, Wijk aan Zee 2002. Throughout this DVD Martin often emphasizes ...Bg4 and this game is no exception. He also notes the frequent activity of the black King in Panov games. One of the more interesting games has to be Morozevich-Anand in Russia vs. the Rest of the World-a game which Martin describes as "Blunderful." Another draw.

In the last Panov, Sveshnikov faces off against Starostits, Riga 2005. On move 7 Sveshnikov plays a3, a move he likes against the French Defense too.

Even though there are a number of draws in these games it MUST be frustrating for White, and no doubt it will be for your opponent too, who undoubtedly is NOT a grandmaster or super strong player. Martin keeps emphasizing activity and solid play-how can that be a bad recommendation?

Another excellent Martin DVD-it is no wonder ChessBase continues to use him."

Full review at

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