Just 5% of all games that begin with 1.e4 are met with 1…c6 at the club level. According to an online database for all classical games in the rating range of 1600-2200, black scores better than white after the move 1…c6. Black wins 49% of games, white wins 45% of games with 6% draws.
At this skill level, the Caro-Kann scores better than every other defense against 1.e4.
The problem with the Caro-Kann, I believe, is mostly marketing. The Sicilian defense captured the world’s heart with dynamic, sacrificial play. Some of the world’s greatest players have championed this defense. The Caro-Kann, on the other hand, is known for dry, draw-ish games.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Our Caro-Kann opening course will show you how to play dynamic chess and constantly put your opponent to the test.
If you aren’t yet convinced, there is plenty more to love about the Caro-Kann.
Easy to learn
There are very few things white can throw at you in the Caro-Kann. In nearly every variation of the first few moves, black can get a consistent setup with consistent long-term plans.
For example, in the advanced mainline of the Caro-Kann, we will almost always be able to attack the backward pawn on d4.
Our opening course will show you how to saddle white with a backward d-pawn in most lines. The d-pawn is a long-term weakness that we can often focus the whole game around in the advanced mainline.
Against the Panov Attack, we can also go after the weak d-pawn in nearly all lines.
Our Caro-Kann repertoire focuses on keeping the initiative. For example, we recommend an immediate c5 against the advanced variation. 3…c5 scores a fantastic 52% wins for black, and 42% wins for white at the club level. On move three, we are getting a massive practical advantage.
This move will immediately put the question to your opponent. After this early move, we go over many concrete follow-ups to keep the pressure on throughout the whole game.
Catch Your Opponent Off Guard
Our repertoire often recommends the second, third, or even fourth most common move. Choosing less common moves helps keep the game in our territory. We can now study the resulting positions and have a deeper understanding of the imbalances.
If white decides to play the Accelerated Panov, we recommend an early a6.
An early a6 will allow us to:
1) Recapture the pawn with a minor piece, so we don’t give up a tempo on the queen
2) Develop our pieces rapidly and get active
3) Give white an isolated d-pawn, a long term weakness
4) Get white out of book and get an edge on the clock
One of my other favorite lines in the repertoire is the Tartakower variation.
In this line, we allow white to double our f-pawns. We get to use the doubled f-pawns as an advantage. Our kingside pawns will prevent a white kingside pawn storm and give us a pawn majority on the kingside.
The Caro-Kann has a dry reputation. We are very focused on creating ambitious positions that allow you to play for the win. If white refuses the trade in the Tartakower above, for example, we can immediately play h5 with a very ambitious attack.
We also spice it up against the King’s Indian Attack. To keep white out of their comfort zone, we often play an immediate f5.
Here we plan to castle kingside and play fxe4 to open up the file for our rook. We also get to develop our knight behind the f-pawn, keeping our pieces active and deadly.
Complete Defense Against 1.e4
Another significant aspect of the Caro-Kann is it offers complete and comprehensive defense against 1.e4. We cover everything that white can throw at you in our repertoire. Many openings (such as the Slav, variations of the Sicilian, etc.) assume a few moves to get into the repertoire.
With these courses, you may study hours and hours of lines without seeing them in any of your games. Learning the Caro-Kann will allow you to use your study in the first game you see e4.
We have uploaded many previews to our Youtube channel if you want to know more.
Also, check out our Caro-Kann playlist, which gives a free preview for every line in the repertoire.
The Caro-Kann is a great weapon that can catch your opponent off-guard very early in the game. Since we can keep the game in our court in nearly every variation, it’s no surprise that it scores so well for black at the club level.