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Caro-Kann, Classical (B18)
1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bf5

Number of games in database: 9415
Years covered: 1888 to 2023
Overall record:
   White wins 31.8%
   Black wins 25.6%
   Draws 42.7%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Michele Godena  56 games
Joseph G Gallagher  35 games
Sergei Tiviakov  33 games
Aleksey Dreev  93 games
Valentina Gunina  68 games
Arturo Pomar Salamanca  64 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Carlsen vs S Ernst, 2004
L Milman vs J Fang, 2005
Beliavsky vs Larsen, 1981
Tal vs Botvinnik, 1960
Spassky vs Karpov, 1974
A Dueckstein vs Petrosian, 1962
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 page 1 of 377; games 1-25 of 9,415 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Bird / Blackburne vs Bardeleben / Weiss ½-½351888Consultation gameB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
2. E Schallopp vs K Walbrodt  1-0421891Walbrodt - SchalloppB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
3. Charousek vs Von Popiel 1-055189811th DSB Congress, CologneB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
4. Lasker vs F J Lee 1-0391899LondonB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
5. Showalter vs F J Lee 1-0551899LondonB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
6. Lasker vs W Cohn ½-½291899LondonB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
7. Schlechter vs W Cohn ½-½311899LondonB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
8. L Parke vs H F Lee  1-0281900Correspondence tB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
9. Chigorin vs Allies  1-0471900Consultation gameB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
10. E O Jones vs F J Lee  0-1511900LondonB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
11. Pillsbury vs Allcock / Gibbs / Passmore 0-1271900Pillsbury Blindfold Simul 12b, LondonB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
12. Pillsbury vs Von Popiel 1-074190012th DSB Congress, MunichB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
13. S Rosselli del Turco vs G Mari  0-14919012nd USI Congress, Venice B18 Caro-Kann, Classical
14. Duras vs Brozek / Doorschak 1-0291902Consultation gameB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
15. J Mieses vs Maroczy 0-1391902Monte CarloB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
16. Chigorin vs W Cohn  1-056190213th DSB Congress, HanoverB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
17. Chigorin vs Von Popiel 1-037190213th DSB Congress, HanoverB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
18. V Breev vs S Izbinsky  0-11819033rd Russian National TournamentB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
19. Chigorin vs M Lowcki 1-02419033rd Russian National TournamentB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
20. Chigorin vs S Izbinsky  ½-½3219033rd Russian National TournamentB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
21. F Duz-Khotimirsky vs S Izbinsky  1-03319033rd Russian National TournamentB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
22. Salwe vs V Yurevich  ½-½3919033rd Russian National TournamentB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
23. Chigorin vs V Yurevich 0-14019033rd Russian National TournamentB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
24. P P Benko vs V Yurevich 0-14419033rd Russian National TournamentB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
25. F Duz-Khotimirsky vs V Yurevich  0-15519033rd Russian National TournamentB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
 page 1 of 377; games 1-25 of 9,415 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-04-05  aw1988: You can only have too many bishop moves if Black somehow falls behind in development. He doesn't.
Nov-04-05  Akavall: <Hey, does anyone know what the main line is and how white exploits a tactical and/or development advantage after 5. Bd3 Qxd4?>

I don't think 5. Bd3, is a book move. I don't see anything better for white than 6. Nf3, but black queen would just retreat. I think white doesn't have any direct threat here, nor any advantage, IMO.

Jan-26-06  Gazman5: I'm pretty sure Bd3 is played at various levels by Agressive white players that like to play gambits and take the Caro-Kann player into tactical waters he may be less comfortable with. I'm sure I've read an article on this line somewhere, If I find it I'll post a link or reference.
Jan-02-08  Cactus: In Gary Kasparov's good book on the classical Caro-Kann, he seems to think that Bd3 is a sound gambit, but trust me; in practise, it's hard to prove it! I find it hard to capitalise on the developmental advantage, and attack black's solid position. In other words, I'd avoid playing Bd3
Jan-02-08  CapablancaFan: <Cactus> I agree. I am a regular practitioner of the Caro-Kann and that continuation I have always found to be useless. After 4...Bf5 if my opponent plays 5.Bd3 I simply exchange right there on the spot, 5...Bxe4 6.Bxe4 Nf6! and white has to spend a tempo either moving the bishop or defending it, while black develops without loss of time.
Nov-08-08  Alphastar: The gambit 5. Bd3? Qxd4! is unsound. Black does best to accept it. Something like 5. ..Bxe4?, like <CapablancaFan> suggests, unnecessarily cedes the bishop pair. After his 6. Bxe4 Nf6 white plays 7. Bf3 when the bishop is well placed to support a d4-d5 advance.
Dec-17-08  blacksburg:


Jul-15-09  Smothered Mate: Good ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

Caro-Kann, Classical
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.♘c3 dxe4 4.♘xe4 ♗f5

click for larger view

I've seen this opening before.

Jun-11-13  Amarande: As a general rule, Bd3 is played instead of Bc4 ultimately because it's the wisest thing to do. Not immediately because of the loss of the d-pawn, but as a rule:

* On the nice side, Bc4 can lead to some truly beautiful tactical traps. 5 Ng3 Bg6 6 h4 h6 7 h5 Bh7 8 Nf3 e6 9 Bc4 Nd7 10 Qe2 Ngf6 11 Ne5, and an inattentive Black is now faced with the barrel of 12 Nxf7! This theme happens quite frequently in the Caro-Kann with slightly different move orders. (The "book" form of this trap occurs with the moves h5 and Ngf6 omitted. This form is perhaps slightly easier to avoid, as Black does not now have any move so naturally fatal as ... Ngf6 to fall for in this case, but more lethal if fallen into - as the White Pawn on h5 means the loss of a whole Rook, since the White Knight escapes.)

11 ... Qe7?! here seems to hold everything. In fact, it does parry the threat but White simply continues 12 Bf4, preparing for O-O-O and enjoying a comfortable space advantage. Meanwhile, Black has blocked his ability to castle King's side anytime soon, and there's another trap!

click for larger view

Hands up, how many of you would, if you had to choose a move right away, castle here as Black? Don't lie. :) What danger could there be? White's Queen isn't placed for a Boden's mate, and would require at least one extra move (13 Qf3) to prepare one. Right? *Right??* ...

However, these traps are normally easily taken care of. ELIMINATE THE EXPLOSIVE KNIGHT. Seriously, if you are Black and see that constellation starting to form, the simple and sound thing to do is exchange Nxe5, breaking up the whole racket. Don't exchange it, and you're likely to find it saccing itself in a very much do-not-want fashion. Which brings us to the downside ...

* Black's LSB in this variation is a beautiful thing. It's escaped all the ills this piece is heir to in almost all openings that feature the "Queen's Pawn" type pawn structures. And on top of that, White doesn't even have recourse to Qb3 lines to punish that Bishop for abandoning its duty to that little confessional booth that is guarding b7 that usually is the reason Black all but has to lock it behind the Pawns in most such openings.

On the other hand, White's LSB is not a beautiful thing. It's more like that extra screw you always seem to find at the end when you build one of those "assembly required" furniture pieces and just end up stepping on barefoot in the middle of the night. As Tartakower even went so far as to saying in commenting on Bc4 in M Monticelli vs Fine, 1934 ... "This Bishop has no future." Quite seriously, with the exception of early tactical zaps like just noted, which are rather easily parried (and for which the pattern is pretty much always that same one of Qe2/Bc4/Ne5/h4, so are easy to see as well), there's not much White can do with this Bishop but trade it for Black's or have it just get in his way - Black just controls the light squares too well, and his pawns on those squares are simply too solid for White to have any offensive prospects on that colour.

And so the really logical thing to do is indeed eventually play Bd3 and trade off Black's Bishop. Moreover, the window of opportunity for this is limited; for instance, if Black plays 11 ... Nxe5! in the above variation rather than 11 ... Qe7?!, after 12 Nxe5 Nd7, White already cannot easily exchange the Bishops - if 13 Bd3? Bxd3 and White is forced to leave himself with a feeble and indissoluble backward pawn on the d-file, since 14 Qxd3 would lose the e-pawn. Indeed, at this point, the position is almost identical to the Monticelli-Fine game, except that Black's Bishop is still at g6 and the h-pawns have not moved, and is thus likely to develop upon very similar lines, which is not a good thing for White.

Sep-06-13  MarkFinan: Can anyone explain to me why white always plays 9.Bd3 ..Bxd3 and swaps off his LSB so early? I always play it myself, but thats only because I seem to only play my engine at the moment and all the book moves come up on screen, and as Im just learning I kinda cheat till im out of book.
Premium Chessgames Member
  boz: On...Bxd3, the black lsb is liqidated on its fourth move making the price for freeing the problem piece high. Half of Black's moves (4 of 8) were by the lsb and now it's gone from the nice b1-h7 diagonal.

For his part, after Qxd3, White has better development, space, control of the aforementioned diagonal and in particular, control of the e4 square.

That's my 2 cents, anyway.

Sep-06-13  MarkFinan: Thanks <boz>. Very kind of you to reply and give me some Input :-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <MarkFinan: Thanks <boz>. Very kind of you to reply and give me some Input :-)>

...adding to <boz> points.

Be2/Bc4 dont really inspire.

Blacks bishop is strong on the diagonal and Bd6 causes the Ng3 some discomfort, as it cant go to e4.

Sep-06-13  Shams: <MarkFinan> I had the same question, back when I played against the Caro.
Sep-07-13  hedgeh0g: To put it simply: that bishop is Black's best piece.

And what do we do with our opponent's best pieces? :)

Sep-07-13  MarkFinan: Shams, diceman, boz, Hedgeh0g, thanks for the comments.

Hedgeh0g, now you put it as bluntly as that ill definately be exchanging the bishops off. I just hate castling queenside for some reason, and with the pawn on h4 so early i feel like its pretty much forced.

Sep-07-13  hedgeh0g: I'm not the biggest fan of the Classical Caro, to be honest, because Black usually has the option of simplifying into a slightly worse endgame with that ...Qd5-e4 manoeuvre.

Have you considered employing a different setup against the Caro? If you don't mind the prospect of having to grind out a win in a long game, then by all means, stick with 3.Nc3. If you prefer more complex middlegame-type positions, I would recommend the Advanced Variation (3.e5) with either 4.h4 or 4.Nf3 after 3...Bf5.

Sep-07-13  MarkFinan: Hedgeh0g.. Yeh mate, I played 3.e5 anyway, and it just kinda transposes into a French defence. Im gonna download some CK games tonight and go them. See if i can find any tactical shots :-) And i dont mind a long game when im in the mood, but I prefer a complex middle game anyday.
Sep-07-13  Shams: <hedgeh0g> It's a very active piece but it's still technically bad if you look at the center pawns, right? After the LSB comes off the board Black has the right bishop and two knights, all fine pieces.

I finally decided that I couldn't play around or against it, so felt a little better about trading it as prescribed. But it never felt natural to me.

Sep-07-13  DcGentle: Well, the advanced variation of the Caro-Kann is worth a second look for sure. Just check the Opening Explorer and here the winner game with <9. c3!>. Black will have a hard time.
Sep-08-13  MarkFinan:

click for larger view


I played this CK last night and into this morning, it took me 3/4 hours in total against Stockfish on 65% strength. Afterwards I put it on analysis on 100% strength, and it gives white a tiny, tiny edge. Up until this position it was quite boring, but I really took my time and managed to convert the game into a R+4P+K v r+k easily won endgame.. If anyone wants to see, ill post the pgn, if not ill post it in my forum. :-)

Sep-08-13  DcGentle: <MarkFinan>:

Well yes, it's a won ending for White:

[Event "Endgame."]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2013.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "MarkFinan"]
[Black "Stockfish"]
[Result "*"]
[Annotator "DcGentle"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/p2k2r1/4pb1p/2Pp3P/3P1p2/2N2P2/P3R1P1/1K6 w - - 0 1"]

1. c6+ {Black should not take this pawn!} Kd6

(1... Kxc6 {if he does, then} 2. Rxe6+ {will win bishop f6.})

2. c7 Rg8

(2... Rxc7 {Again it's not good taking this pawn, due to} 3. Nb5+ {winning rook c7.})

3. Nb5+ Kd7 4. Nxa7 Kxc7 5. Rxe6 {With 2 surplus pawns, White has an easy game.} Rb8+

(5... Bg5 {is not better due to} 6. Nb5+ Kd7 7. Rd6+ { })

6. Kc1 Bg5 7. Rg6 Kd7

(7... Kb7 {Black cannot win the a-pawn.} 8. Nb5)

(7... Ra8 8. Nb5+)

8. a3 {winning.}

(8. a4 {is also possible, but is trickier.})

You can copy this PGN into your engine-GUI or any other PGN-viewer for that matter.

<Mark>, just show us your game :-)


Sep-08-13  MarkFinan: [Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2013.09.08"]
[Round "?"]
[White "MarkFinan"]
[Black "Stockfish 4 (65.3%)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[TimeControl "60/180+1"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nf3 Nd7 7. h4 h6 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 e6 11. Bf4 Ngf6 12. O-O-O Be7 13. Ne5 Nxe5 14. Bxe5 Ng4 15. Qf3 f5 16. Bxg7 Rh7 17. Be5 Qd5 18. Qxd5 cxd5 19. Rhf1 Bg5+ 20. Kb1 Rc8 21. Rde1 Nxe5 22. Rxe5 Kf7 23. Rfe1 Rc6 24. R5e2 (24. Ne2 f4) 24... f4 25. Nf1 Rg7 26. f3 Bh4 27. Rd1 Ke7 28. Nd2 b6 29. c4 Kd6 30. c5+ Ke7 31. b4 Kd7 32. Kc2 Rc8 33. Nb1 Rb8 34. Nc3 bxc5 35. bxc5 Rb4 36. Rb1 Rxb1 37. Kxb1 Bf6 38. c6+ Kd6 39. c7 Rg8 40. Nb5+ Kd7 41. Nxa7 Kxc7 42. Rxe6 Rf8 43. Nb5+ Kd7 44. Rd6+ Ke8 45. Rxd5 Ke7 46. a4 Ra8 47. Nc3 Ke6 48. Kc2 Rxa4 49. Kd3 Ra3 50. Rb5 Bg7 51. Kc4 Ra7
52. Ne2 Kf7 53. Rf5+ Ke7 54. Rxf4 Bf6 55. Re4+ Kd6 56. Nc3 Rc7+ 57. Kd3 Rb7 58. Rg4 Ke7 59. Nd5+ Ke6 60. Nxf6 Kxf6 61. Rg6+ Kf5 62. Rxh6 Kg5 63. Rh8 Rf7 64. d5 Re7 65. h6 Kg6 66. h7 Rf7 67. Ke4 Rf6 68. Ke5 Rf5+ 69. Ke4 Rf6 70. f4 Kh6 71. g4 Ra6 72. Ke5 Ra3 73. d6 Rd3 74. Ke6 Ra3 75. d7 Kg6 76. d8=Q Re3+ 77. Kd6 Rd3+ 78. Ke7 Rxd8 79. Rxd8 Kxh7 80. Kf6 Kh6 81. Rh8# 1-0

DcGentle.. Theres one or two take backs, and the engine had 3 mins while I had unlimited time, but Im still having it as.a win because I did play well in the endgame. Btw..I tried 11.Bf4 for once (Id usually play c3) in this line of the CK.

Cheers Doc, very much appreciated :-)

Sep-08-13  DcGentle: <MarkFinan>: Nice game, really, I went over it briefly. Even if you took back a move now and then, it's still brave to face the tactical monster. Current grandmasters don't want to play against the machine anymore, I mean, I can understand it. On the other hand, humans still have the deeper understanding of positional chess, and maybe Carlsen has a chance against Stockfish or Houdini. His style is positional, this is an advantage.

Many people would like to see such an encounter, but the money has to be on the table first, I guess. And there must be enough money, this is the problem.

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