Viktor Bologan: The Caro-Kann with Black and White

by Priyadarshan Banjan
12/5/2014 – The Caro-Kann enjoys the reputation of a solid opening. But in the hands of a player who knows what he is doing it can be very dangerous. Thus, if you play 1.e4 with White you better come prepared. On his new DVD Viktor Bologan recommends to play the Advance Variation against the Caro-Kann. Priyadarshan Banjan had a look at Bologan's take on the Caro-Kann.

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Viktor Bologan :
Fighting against the Caro-Kann with the Advance Variation

‘This move was introduced by the late Herr Kann, of Pest, and adopted in practice by Herr Caro, of Berlin. It gives a safe but dull game.’ – Chess Monthly, September 1888

Many chess players indeed rank the Caro-Kann as an insipid system against 1.e4. You have to concede that in this opening, often there are no amazing fireworks; at least, not in the early part of the game. That said, are you sure?

The Fritztrainer repertoire series with GM Viktor Bologan provide you with a solid reference tool to play the opening successfully. GM Bologan, a strong player and experienced coach, guides you through this complex phase of the game by presenting solid opening lines in detail, helping you to reach middlegame positions you understand and in which you know what to do.

The unique thing about these DVDs is the immaculate command with which Bologan presents the material. From the word “go” he focuses on moves, variations and evaluations. On the face of it, his method may look arid to you. However, chess - as any serious player will tell you - is synonymous with hard work. When watching GM Bologan you get the feeling of witnessing pure chess in action. Still, the DVDs are packed with useful tidbits, e.g. his suggestion that “when you don’t know what to do, just improve the knights”!


Horatio Caro (Source:




One feature that makes these DVDs special is the short recap at the end of every video segment. Bologan's confident assessment at the end of every line he presents is also helpful. This makes sure that the basic ideas and concepts are firmly engraved in your mind. And Bologan knows what he is talking about, for he has been at the top and played the variations he advocates!

The GM from Moldavia is a strong player who is known for this solid approach. He has tangoed on an equal footing with the who’s who of world chess, and in 2003 won the Dortmund Super tournament ahead of Anand and Kramnik.

GM Viktor Bologan

“Many of the listeners of the DVDs told me that when they are playing a game, they simply imagine me or see me talking about the position so that they visually remember the ideas and concepts better than they would from a book or a computer.” – GM Bologan

Bologan's DVD on the Caro-Kann Advance variation is the latest addition to his opening repertoire series. However, this is not his first DVD on the Caro-Kann. In fact, in one of his first Fritztrainer DVD's he recommended to play the Caro-Kann with black, covering all main lines and the most important sidelines, explaining the ideas and move orders to allow you assimilate them and apply them in your games.

The segments encompass a total of 20 video lectures with a running time of about 4 hours and 40 minutes. They include:

  • the classical main line,
  • the Advance variation
  • Fischer variation
  • Fantasy variation
  • Panov Botvinnik Attack, etc.

As is his wont, GM Bologan focuses on lines which leave you with almost no weaknesses and ample opportunities to improve the position of your pieces.


Bologan knows how to play the Caro-Kann and he knows how to fight the Caro-Kann

On his DVD on the Advance variation Bologan now offers a detailed and up to date opening repertoire against Caro-Kann. He explains basic ideas, important strategic and tactical motifs, and discusses viable plans, typical moves and crucial positions that are good to remember if you want to win against Caro-Kann.

It is striking that Bologan no matter if he recommends a line for or against the Caro-Kann always strives for positions with a very healthy pawn structure with barely any weaknesses, which still give you maximum chances to improve your own pieces to the hilt.

The DVD on the Caro-Kann Advance variation is divided into 43 video segments with a run time of approximately 4 hours and 40 minutes (coincidence?!). This includes 22 instructional videos followed by a quiz section of 20 test positions in the lovable interactive format. The instructional videos cover all main replies to the system GM Bologan recommends as main weapon against the Caro-Kann. He focuses mainly on the positions after 4.Nf3 and 5.Be2 where the basic ideas revolve around the c4 break and general improvement of pieces.

The variations discussed include:

  • black plays 5...c5
  • black plays 5...Ne7
  • black plays 5...Nd7
  • variations after 5.Be2 Ne7 6. 0-0 Nd7 7.Nbd2, etc.

Bologan's clear recommendations make this a perfect and dangerous weapon against the Caro-Kann

One of the most practical aspects of the DVD is the fact that the material is presented in repertoire format. All the games and variations are stored in one database making sure that – e.g. when travelling or preparing for tournaments or club games – you always have easy access to your repertoire and analyses.

Preparation made easy

The lines in the database cover almost all possible moves. The level of analysis is top notch, however, in some of the annotations Russian text crept in. This in no manner belittles the quality of the chess material, but a translation would have been nice.

The test positions, as mentioned before, are presented in interactive format: if you choose a wrong move, you are notified that your choice was wrong. Here one  improvement might be to better explain why the wrong answers are wrong. This might give the tests a more personal touch. The positions in these tests vary from the basic to sheer positional brilliance, a balanced mix testing your newfound understanding of the structures in the Caro-Kann Advanced opening. As is the trend these days with the fritztrainer DVDs, you are additionally provided with a separate database with 50 model games to supplement self study. Indeed, it is packed with valuable and practical instructions for every Caro-Kann player.

Bologan's DVD proposing the Caro-Kann as a basis for a repertoire against 1.e4 is an older version of the ChessBase fritztrainer and hence does not carry the paraphernalia that are now an integral part of the modern fritztrainers. However, the information-packed lessons on this DVD create enough value to call it a practical gem for any player looking for a suitable black repertoire against 1.e4.

Both DVD's – the one recommending Caro-Kann against 1.e4, and the one recommending the Advance variation against the Caro-Kann – are targeted at players of all skill levels. Although there are some hidden tactics in the variations, they are easy to spot with due diligence.

And the kind of quality instructions delivered in this set of DVDs is simply priceless if you are a Caro-Kann player – no matter if you play Black or White. In case you are not yet a part of this fascinating world, now is a chance to visit it and start playing this solid opening system with both colours!

The new DVD on the Caro-Kann Advance variation is of a very high practical value if you play 1.e4 or plan to do so. I rate this DVD 5/6 stars for its practical relevance and high quality analysis.

The DVD offering a Caro-Kann repertoire is older but certainly not outdated. The advice given and the patterns discussed are very useful for Caro-Kann players of all levels. It is a must have primer for any player of the Caro-Kann, but especially valuable if you are new to this opening. This earns it 4.5/6 stars.

Sample Video:

Viktor Bologan:
Fighting against the Caro-Kann with the Advance Variation

• Video running time: 4 h 38 min (English)
• With interactive training including video feedback
• Exclusive database with 50 essential games
• Including CB 12 Reader


€25.13 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$31.06 (without VAT)

This DVD can be purchased as a hard copy or it can be downloaded directly from the Internet, that way sparing you the few days needed for it to arrive by post.

Order this Fritztrainer in the ChessBase Shop

Viktor Bologan: The Caro-Kann


€23.11 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$28.56 (without VAT)

This DVD can be purchased as a hard copy or it can be downloaded directly from the Internet, that way sparing you the few days needed for it to arrive by post.

Order this Fritztrainer in the ChessBase Shop

Other Fritztrainer DVDs by Viktor Bologan

Browse and order your Bologan Fritztrainers here


Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


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Madbanjy Madbanjy 12/6/2014 06:33
Hey TMM!

My reviews are in no way based on my work for ChessBase. It is unfair to presume that there exists any fear of the work not getting published.
Chess is a wonderful game played by wonderful people. Let us keep this in mind and stop pulling each other's legs, so to speak. I respect your views, any true chess lover will.
Maybe your apprehension will be put to rest in the near future. Thank you for your feedback. Cheers. :)
TMM TMM 12/6/2014 03:45
@Madbanjy: If e.g. John Kerry said in the last elections that he supports Barack Obama and not Mitt Romney, would anyone be surprised? No, because he is a member of the Democratic party, he shares their beliefs, and even if he didn't like Obama he would still say he would vote for Obama. In this case you have written two articles before for ChessBase and you are apparently writing this "review" solely for publication on ChessBase's website. So am I surprised that this review mostly contains exaggerated praise? No, not at all.

And don't get me wrong; I don't blame you for writing a positive review. Of course you also know that if you criticize the product too much, the review will not be published, making your time spent on writing the review wasted. And for your chess writing career it is better to get more of these publications. So even if you already liked the DVD, you might unconsciously add a bit more praise than you would if you had written the review for a neutral chess-review site.

In any case, my criticism is aimed at ChessBase, which disguises these ads as if they are objective third-party reviews.
PerfectConscience PerfectConscience 12/6/2014 03:30
this Mr. Bean video must be funny.
Madbanjy Madbanjy 12/6/2014 02:26
Besides, honestly speaking, I'm sure that had you read the complete review, you without a doubt would have noticed the criticisms with regards the DVD. Please do read them to have a better idea.
Madbanjy Madbanjy 12/6/2014 02:17
Hey TMM!
I am extremely sorry that this review could not match your 'expectations'. I apologise for sounding too subjective. At any rate, I hope you will understand that it is always a learning procedure. Nevertheless, you must understand that most of the things explained up there is a description cum evaluation of the stuff that I came across as a student trying to learn the game. If the DVD managed to create an interest and propelled me to write what I eventually ended up doing, then it is because the DVD is actually good. I'm sure I'm not the only person who believes in the quality of chess material presented in these DVDs.
As for you complaint of GM Bologan that he is 'not that sharp anymore these days', I cannot really explain anything. I honestly pray that someday in an ideal world you get to play with him. Players have bad tournaments, however, players like him don't always perform badly.
Honestly, even when I read it again now, I don't see what you mean by the text being subjective. Its pretty much a description with evaluation, which is what makes it a review. I understand your concerns which made you give your honest feedback. Thank you.
TMM TMM 12/6/2014 12:47
By the way, I do not claim that Bologan is not or was never a great player. I just think that this highly subjective promotion of ChessBase's own products, acting as if these are objective third-party reviews, could use some counterweight. And if ChessBase does not want users to provide such comments, they should just close these ads for comments altogether. At least then it's clear that this is self-promotion and no criticism on ChessBase products is tolerated.
TMM TMM 12/6/2014 12:39
Is this the same Bologan who scored 4/9 and a TPR of 2300 in Qatar? I guess he's not that sharp anymore these days. But at least he can still make money making DVDs... (I guess with ChessBase's shameless self-promotion this comment will be removed soon, even though the "rules" state this comment should not be removed.)