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This month I am filling in for my friend John Watson and I have decided to look at recent developments in the Caro Kann. I believe that this is the most important and popular opening of this section, and it is certainly the one I know best!

Download PGN of March '08 1 e4 ... games

Caro-Kann Advance [B12]

Caruana - Motylev is another game in the Short variation. The young Caruana plays the sharp 6.Be3 only to follow with the passive 8.c3:

Black vigorously seizes the initiative. After White misses his chance to fight back, Black's centre rolls through White's position.

In Jones - Speelman, featuring the risky 3...c5 variation, White plays a pawn sacrifice. While White gets some compensation, things never look dangerous for Black and he gradually neutralizes White's pressure. Black still has some chances when a blunder gives White an immediate draw.

The Short system can be very dangerous in the hands of a strong strategist. Here in Motylev - Rodshtein White employs an interesting idea, marching his a-pawn up the board:

Black is soon very short of space and White strangles him on the kingside.

In the sharp 4.Nc3/5.g4 line of the Caro, Black plays the unusual 6...f6:

White strays from the usual path on move 11, which does not leads to disaster, although it gives no advantage. After a back and forth struggle typical for the variation, Black wins a complicated game, see Szoen - Dziuba.

Exchange Variation [B13]

In the game Krivoborodov - Jobava, Jobava meets the Exchange variation in one of the sharpest ways, taking on an isolated queen's pawn:

White's passive play lands him in trouble, and Black crashes through with a beautiful attack, seemingly out of nowhere, on the dark-squares.

Panov Attack [B14]

Nepomniachtchi - Rodshtein features a very topical pawn sacrifice:

Later White introduces a new finesse and gets a typical initiative. After White sacrifices a piece, Black misses (or avoids) a forced draw, but the ending gives him enough counterplay to hang on an exchange down.

Classical 4...Bf5 mainline [B19]

In Chevelevitch - Fridman, White tries a sideline against the popular 11...Qa5+ variation, 13 Ne4:

Black plays an interesting deviation on move 18, and after White avoids a critical pawn sacrifice, Black is able to exchange queens to get an ideal Caro Kann endgame where he patiently grinds down White's defences.

Ivanchuk essays Houska's pet 11...Qa5+ line in Leko - Ivanchuk and seems to catch Leko totally unprepared. After a couple of passive moves by White, Ivanchuk seizes the initiative and never lets go. A nice example of White becoming overextended in the Caro Kann.

Till next month, David

Please post you queries on the 1 e4 ... Forum, or subscribers can write to me at if you have any questions or queries.