Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Following Rowson's lead

I'm switching to the Caro-Kann as black. I'm doing this to balance my openings a little bit. I play gambits on every other line, but I need to be able to handle quiet positions.

The Caro-Kann has many of the advantages of the French, and some additional advantages. For one that light-squared bishop is free! If white tries the advance variation, you can squirt the Bishop out to g4 or f5 before closing off your light-squares. One disadvantage is that you don't play c5 in one shot in the Caro-Kann, so that slows things down a little bit.

Also, it is known as an opening for people that "like" endgames. If black plays it right, and fends off white's attempt to kill him quickly, he will typically have an advantage in the endgame. Frankly, that turned me off at first. But how will I learn to play the endgame well if I pick openings for which the game is typically decided by move 20?

I like it so far. It sort of feels relaxing to not have to worry about starting my attack before his pawn advantage gives him the win in the endgame. I found a very nice (long) book excerpt from Schiller's book on the Caro-Kann here. People like to trash Schiller's work, but he played this a lot in tournaments and has some wonderful stuff in there on general piece placement, strategy, and common tactics.


Blogger BlunderProne said...

The C-K is my number 1 arsenal as Black against 1.e4. Do you play the classic with the Bishop out or the like Karpov with the Knight to d7?

I find that the Exchange C-K is played often followed by the Panov-Botvinik attack. When I do get a chance to play the main line classic, its usually a game of chase the bishop until he plays Bd3 when I am inclined to exchange.

Good luck

10/08/2008 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger likesforests said...

Good luck with CK! I briefly flirted with her, but settled for a less respectable cousin. The Qa5 Scandy is similar but Black is often a tempo down. In return, Black avoid the theory and complications of the Panov-Botvinnik and Fantasy.

I have Jovanka Houska's "Play the Caro-Kann". She does a good job explaining general concepts, but note, she avoids some of the early endgames and tries for positions where Black has chances to win, draw, or lose. That style does not suite everyone who plays it. ;)

10/08/2008 07:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with your opening switch. In your entry you somewhat give me the feeling you will not only learn the moves but also the plan behind them. So lets hope it will be a quick and painless switch.

Btw, with your blog entries about chess for Zebras you made me hungry for this book so i am definetly gonna buy and read it myself.

10/08/2008 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

BP: that is funny, as I also play the Smith-Morra as white. Frankly I'm not sure what I'll be doing yet. Right now I'm just messing around with lots of little variations within the overall C-K family. One way I try to see if I'll like an opening is to just play it without studying anything about it first. That way I can see how natural it is for me before learning the theory, which I'll forget most of anyway.

likesforests: I ordered that book, it looks good for general plans and such.

chesstiger: hopefully I'll come to understand the plans etc.. I think the Rowson book is a good investment. It is a fun read.

10/08/2008 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Chessaholic said...

uh oh, he's ordering chess books again! welcome back to the vortex ;-)

10/08/2008 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Loomis said...

Any chance you'll be spotted at TACO this weekend? I'm pretty sure I'll be there.

10/08/2008 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Loomis: awesome, yes I plan on playing (taking a first-round bye but coming for rounds 2-4). Hope to see you there!

chessaholic: I fear it is true. I'm trying to resist buying things on impulse, but it is so difficult.

10/08/2008 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

I played the C-K in college. I liked it, but after awhile got tired of the positions I got so I switched to the Sicilian.

Welcome back! Books!

10/08/2008 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

I believe that learning chess is a lot like learning a musical instrument.

Changing to a different opening is like learning a new style of music. It also helps to "listen" to that style of music to see if its a style you may want to adapt to. So play a few chess "songs" with the C-K style.

In that light, what style of music would best describe the C-K? To me, I think its a blues derrivative. It's not as straightforward as a 12-bar raucus blues. Rather, this is a Blues Shuffle with a a Call and response cadance as white begins the call to an open game and black responds with a closed structure.

The "song's" main story line is the hard life of Black's Queen Bishop. A tragic hero's tale unfolds. The first verse has him wondering across the board like a rebel in defiance to the closed pawn structure. Which becomes a target of white's aggression. How dare he!

The Second verse slows down and brings the sad minor chords in to show how he gives up his life ( exchanges with teh otehr bishop or is traded for a knight) after a series of responses from white. But not without cause and a promise of hope ( "..but he removed White's main king side attacker" or " .. the recapture with the rook pawn frees his rook")

The Third verse picks up some and builds a little louder as the consessions for the Bishop are attempted to be realized and defended. Sometimes an antogonistic White queen creates a Bridge ( tactical solo) in the song but the same chord progression returns for the final verse.

The Endgame is where the sharp single notes are bending on the fret board and resonate as the open files created on the flanks through either or both c5 or f5 levers turn to gateways for the rooks or pathways for pawns.

It ends in a sharp dualing guitar solo with the crash symbols and fast driving bass line riding teh notes through the chord progression.

At least to me... that's what's in my head as I play the c-K :)

Rock on! I'm partial to the blues as I am the front man to an amateur blues band

10/09/2008 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

BP: that is awesome! You should make that into a post. Beautiful. I don't totally understand it, but a little bit, having played a few games (and played through some master games). It's great! Everyone should do this with their pet opening, translate it into musical style.

10/09/2008 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

dear bdk, congratulations. i have even completely given up ever playing 1...g3 as a tertiary opening or 1...e6 as an occassional side line. its caro-kann all the way.

IF after you read my post in the next month on the benefits of having chessBase lite as an alternative dataBase, so that you can recieve errant files from friends, i have a lot of goodies on the caro that i can send you. pls do not refuse till you read my post :).

its my mine opening exclusively. i also have a LOT of high level games from the last two years of GM parlance and even recent events, that i steadily compile, that you might enjoy. also some eBooks, etc.

i am eager to hear what you find.

have you looked at the Larsen-Petrosian defence, where upon dxe4, Nxe4 Nf6, Nxf6 THEN gxf6. very bad ass. my main line. your average player does not know what to do, and goes into a long think.

good enough for Larsen, Petrosian, Seirawan and others (i played this before knowing he played it).

i simply love this opening. the minority on the Q side is a ball bust, castling Q side fraught with dangers, and many nuances to the exchange variation that the avg club player employs which, to this day, all still trouble me. one final things, it took me a LONG time to learn to push the pawn to c5, but it is more often than not vital.

anand plays it, Bareev, and Leko; svidler, karpov, V pons, carlsen, kramnik, dreev.

take care, dk

10/10/2008 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

DK: sounds like you really like it. So far (in less than a week) I'm enjoying it. It feels much more natural and principled than the Scandinavian, which always felt sort of unnatural and unprincipled to me, and which I had begun to dread playing. We'll see how this goes.

Larsen-Petrosian sounds strange! I have been playing the classical Bf5 line, which seems fun.

One nice thing about this opening is the work out there on it is much more user-friendly. It's hard to find something on the Caro-Kann where the author doesn't really take the time to explain a little bit about the strategy. As opposed to gambits I've been playing, where the focus tends to be more on variation learning (for obvious reasons).

10/10/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

But why do you need to learn to play the endgame well if you pick openings for which the game is tipically decided by move 20?

10/11/2008 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

You might check out Schiller's Complete Defense to the Queen Pawn Openings. Probably his best book. $4 at amazon.

10/15/2008 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

katar: I'm off the grid with my response to d4. I play the unsound 1...e5! At least at my level, it almost always leads to a fun game.

Part of my rationale is that against e4 I'll play the Caro Kann because white may want an open game, so it takes him out of his comfort zone. With e5 it is the same, except his comfort zone is closed games. While I know there are tons of exceptions (e.g., BDG players), most d4 players, I find, play extremely passively, or are just weak at tactics once I force them into crazy open lines.

10/15/2008 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Plus I now look forward to playing black for the first time in a long while. I'm happy with my repertoire now, finally. I never felt all that comfortable with it on all fronts. (Well I still hate playing against 1 c4)

10/15/2008 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

question katar: i know your taste in chess and chess books is irrproachable, so what gives with this Schiller book. confident in your recommendation, i check the reveiws at Amazon, and while AMZN cannot be the final verdict, reliable enough. very bad reviews.

what gives here? can you expand on the comment, as to what you love about the Schiller book?

much appreciated as a 1.d4 player. warmest to you man, dk

10/15/2008 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

If it's anything like the excerpt from his caro-kann book that I linked to in the post, it must be good.

10/16/2008 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

DK-trans: The "Complete Defense to QP" edition is ES's best book, even better than the KP version in my opinion. Ask John Watson. The opening itself is also awesome and underrated. It can be played against 1.c4 or 1.Nf3, 1.g3, etc... Also, you can often transpose to Schara gambit against pusillanimous weakies-- the book doesnt cover this but the versatility and gambit option add great value to the opening. The only other Tarrasch book is Aagaard which is too dense for my level and below, though it is a fine book for the proper audience.

10/16/2008 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I was quite happy to sell that Aagaard book, marketed as a general 'solution' to 1 d4.

10/16/2008 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

what's your opinion of e4 c6, d4 d5, Nc3 dxe, Nxe Nf6, NxN gxN ???

black position is easy to play:
Bf5, e6, Bd6 Nd7, Qc7, o-o-o, Rg8

this is the caveman way to play caro-kann-- what do you think of it?

10/28/2008 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Katar: at first I reacted against the aesthetic car wreck on the kingside, but upon castling queenside a pawn storm can be in the making. I don't really know what to make of it though. Fritz gives it a thumbs up, as it seems to be an equal position, but nice and asymmetric so lots of play for both sides.

10/28/2008 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

what reminded me of that ugly pawn structure was Anand's thrashings of Kramnik in games 3 and 5! i find it odd that Anand did not castle in his 3 wins.

10/29/2008 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Katar: yes, that was very strange. It looked so ugly and vulnerable, yet it was a pretty strong little fortress. Just goes to show aesthetics isn't always a guide to move quality!

10/30/2008 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

@BDK and @katar:

thats my line! the bronstein-petrosian variation. most club players dont know what to do! this is the one single line, i have run prog every which way, and make an art of it.

11/11/2008 11:47:00 PM  

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