ChessGoals Caro-Kann Course

ChessGoals Caro-Kann course by National Master Matt Jensen and Adult Learner Jesse Buss

3 reviews


Similar lines and themes are repeated across chapters, and variations


Each line leaves you with a plan, without going too deep into the weeds

No GM Games

Based on lines we expect you to see in games against non-masters

Common Traps

Common mistakes you may see, and how to punish them

We study openings too much. Way too much.

So why did we make an opening course? Let me explain our reasoning.

We surveyed hundreds of chess players and those who improved the most studied openings using just 5% of their total chess time. We made this repertoire to get you to 5%.

This repertoire is a complete defense against 1.e4 in just 90 lines.

There is no reason to spend hours and hours memorizing opening lines you will never see. We’ve all been there. We are studying line 400 of a 1000+ line opening repertoire and wondering if we’ll ever use it. We’re wondering if we are wasting our valuable chess time.

90 Lines

We condensed everything you will see into just 90 lines. The Caro-Kann takes time to learn, but you can review it in under an hour.

Just 90 lines? Won’t you miss out on essential traps, novelties, and gotchya’s? Yes and no.

We’re going to be recommending offbeat lines. We often recommend strange-looking moves that are 4th or 5th most popular. We will get white out of book before we are.


Since we have fewer lines, we focus heavily on the resulting plans.

After each line, we leave you with a plan. Never be left in the dark. You will know the best places to put your pieces and how to navigate the middlegame.

Our recommendations are very consistent, and you will see many common plans, ideas, and motifs. If you forget a repertoire move in your games– don’t worry. It will be easy to recover. You will know the ideas behind the position.

The best part? The Caro-Kann scores better than any other defense against 1.e4 at the club level. We’ll show you exactly why.

What do you get?

You’ll receive a 14,000-word PGN file covering the entire repertoire and around 8 hours of videos. It is delivered instantly to your inbox.

You will get lifetime access to our premium discord. If you have any questions, a line doesn’t make sense, or you want to hang out, join hundreds of other chess improvers in our discord. You’ll get clarity in minutes.


Chapter Summary

  1. Advanced Variation 4.c3
  2. Advanced Variation 4. dxc5 & Sidelines
  3. Panov Attack & Accelerated Panov
  4. Exchange Variation
  5. Tarkatower Variation: 5. Nxf6+ Trade
  6. Tarkatower Variation: No Trade
  7. Two Knights Attack
  8. Fantasy Variation
  9. King’s Indian Attack (KIA)

Included With Your Course


Videos of Matt and Jesse covering the 10 most popular lines in each chapter (45-60 minutes each). Lower-priced option to purchase without videos is available.

PGN File

PGN file of all variations and annotations with instructions on how to view them with chess software and websites.

ChessGoals Discord

Discuss the Caro-Kann Course, study plans, chess improvement, and more. Matt and Jesse answer your questions.

Bonus Material

As we add content and bonus material, you will receive lifetime updates!

Chapter Guide

Chapter 1: Advanced Variation with 4.c3

The most popular variation is the advanced variation. White plays 3.e5, attempting to lock up the center pawns and gain a long-term space advantage. We recommend an aggressive line, 3…c5, quickly targeting the pawn on d4.

After the most common fourth move, 4.c3, we will aim to develop the c8-bishop, play e6, and slowly add pressure to White’s central pawns on d4 and e5. This slower line allows us to create natural and play for positional imbalances.

Full Chapter 1 Video

Chapter 2: Advanced Variation 4.dxc5 and others

When our opponent captures with 4.dxc5, we temporarily sacrifice a pawn. In these variations, we will voluntarily lock in our c8-bishop, knowing that we will have quick play against the e5 and c5 pawns.

Our chance to play with the initiative makes this an exciting line to face. We will teach you the ten most common variations you’ll likely encounter in your games.

Full Chapter 2 Video

Chapter 3: Panov Attack and Accelerated Panov

Against the Panov Attack, we will choose a system that aims to reduce all dangerous variations. Strategically, we plan to attack either an isolated d-pawn or a backward d-pawn.

To neutralize some of the quick attacks via the e8-a4 diagonal, we recommend a rare line with a7-a6. Put the strategic battle in your court and avoid the dangerous attacks with our Panov Attack repertoire.

Chapter 3 Preview

Chapter 4: Exchange Variation

Our Exchange Variation repertoire tries to limit the scope of White’s dark-squared bishop. When White plays less active, as in the screenshot to the left, we will look to play Bd6, Ne7, O-O, f6, and e5!

This center play gives more dynamic positions than the traditional plan of pushing pawns on the queenside. Take the calmest variation of the Caro-Kann and make it a difficult situation for your opponent to figure out with our recommended setup.

Chapter 4 Preview

Chapter 5: Tartakower Variation 5.Nxf6+ Trade

Against the classical setups, we are recommending the Tartakower Variation (4…Nf6). Chapter 5 covers the lines where White captures on f6, doubling our f-pawns. These lines are solid and give us quick development.

We will teach you a system to place your pieces on familiar squares and give you plans to move forward depending on how White sets up. This chapter aims to negate any quick attacks against our king and put the game into positions where we are more comfortable than our opponent.

Chapter 5 Preview

Chapter 6: Tartakower Variation No Trade

There are two main branches in these lines. 1. White passively declines the trade with Ng3. 2. White plays Ng5 and goes for an attack.

In the former, we will push our h-pawn up the board and play for piece activity. In the Ng5 lines, we will be prepared to accept a knight sacrifice on f7, hold the material, and come out with a winning position.

Chapter 6 Preview

Chapter 7: Two Knights Attack

One of the features of this repertoire is the transitions between different chapters and lines. Similar to the Tartakower, we will offer a knight trade on f6. If White takes the knight, the best lines are for them to play d4, transposing to the Tartakower.

If White does not capture on f6, the best lines are arguably still to play d4. This chapter will cover all variations that do not transpose to other chapters but still let you know when those transpositions occur.

Chapter 7 Preview

Chapter 8: Fantasy Variation

The fantasy variation, 3.f3, is an attempt by White to build a large and intimidating center pawn duo. We plan to allow this pawn duo but immediately attack the dark square complex to take advantage of the White king.

These attacking positions give us a lot of play. Black wins 51% to White’s 43% in the club-level database. After learning these lines, you will look forward to seeing the somewhat less common 3.f3.

Chapter 8 Preview

Chapter 9: King's Indian Attack

One of the most challenging systems to face if you don’t have a prepared setup ready. White will blitz out their standard plan and get a comfortable position.

Our repertoire will take the lead in space early and keep White guessing. This sharp system should put the game in our court, and it scores slightly better for Black in the club-level database.

Chapter 9 Preview