13 May 2020

Video completed - Studies in: The Caro-Kann Defense

I recently completed the "Studies in: The Caro-Kann Defense" DVD; a second volume is pending. As with other videos in the ChessLecture.com series, IM David Vigorito uses several games to narrate ideas in the Caro-Kann and also provide concrete analysis of the play into the middle and endgame phases. This is valuable both for a deeper understanding of opening options and - especially important - of the early middlegame plans (good and bad) that may result. A small bonus here is that an (unannotated) PGN file of the five games is included.

Summary of contents, with comments:

The Not-So-Boring Caro-Kann, Game 1 (Gashimov - Ivanchuk)
  • Format limitation: no board flip option in lecture, which has White at the bottom; PGN included, at least, to look at it from the Black perspective later
  • Advance Variation with 3...Bf5
  • Ivanchuk not a frequent C-K player
  • Comparison with Advance French ideas (bishop development vs. less pressure on d4)
  • Useful context on different C-K variations, with 4. Nf3 played in game (Short system)
  • Ideas clearly, succinctly explained from both sides
  • "Poisoned pawn" variation for Black and its endgame refutation
  • Good for general chess understanding / learning
The Not-So-Boring Caro-Kann, Game 2 (Balogh - Rodshtein)
  • Black displayed at the bottom this time
  • Classical Caro-Kann main line
  • Does a good job of explaining move-order effects (Bf4 vs Bd2 for White) and "newer" (1980s actually) castling short plan for Black
  • Looks at White's attacking plan with Ng3-f1 and then g2-g4
  • Black has an amazing sacrificial defense
  • Narration is a little confusing towards the end, as it's not always clear what is analysis and what is the actual game being looked at
The Simple Caro-Kann, Game 3 (LaRocca - Vigorito)
  • How to win with technique; pay attention to details, but not a sharp line like the previous game
  • Demonstrates how a higher-rated opponent can win with it (IM Vigorito vs a master-strength opponent in a club game); somewhat one-sided, but no big blunders
  • Classical Caro-Kann main line
  • More move-order insights, for example regarding the issue of what to do with White's Ng3
  • Discusses best plans for both sides, in terms of piece placement; exactly the kind of explanations that are most valuable, looking at different ideas and their results (including not only the best moves)
Losing the Must Win Game, Game 4 (Ivanov - Vigorito)
  • Tournament position (last round) dictated IM Vigorito (Black) had to try to win to be in the prize money
  • Picked Caro-Kann as his defense due to the lack of (draw) forcing lines; hadn't played before against GM Ivanov, so was a surprise
  • Caro-Kann Exchange variation with 5...Qc7
  • Black ends up with IQP position in the chosen continuation, but with easy development and White has some positional issues (pawns on f3, c3 blocking normal knight development)
  • As with other games, talks about different plans/ideas for early middlegame, including ones that aren't the best, providing insight on what not to do and why
  • Good insight into thinking and evaluation process during the game
Waving a Red Flag at a Bull, Game 5 (Nakamura - Mamedyarov)
  • White displayed on the bottom of the board
  • Advance variation, Short system; discussion of fundamental ideas
  • A follow-up to game 1, with delay of "poison pawn" capture on b2
  • Black overextends in a slightly awkward yet solid position; White in response employs an instructive attacking line


  1. I'm a C-K player. I should check out this video ... I know Dave V. He's a decent and approachable guy.

    I've been using the Everyman series and ebooks for Chessbase "move by Move" to get to the main tabias. A short note on the "move by Move" series that EM chess has is I like the Question and answers and exercises it sets up as it's more of a deliberate training method over the passive read and absorb style most books bring. I'm old school enough to dust off the pieces, set them up and work through the positions rather than passively nodding and going "u-huh!" ...though, I have to admit, my powers of laziness are epic and slipping into old comfortable patterns happen more often than I like to admit. :)

    I face the advanced variation mostly (B12) and have teetered between 3...c5 and 3...Bf5. Playing the 3...Bf5 means having to deal with the g4 bayonet advance from those aggressive players. Most of the material that's coming out now seem to favor the Bf5 line despite the complications from an early g4 thorn in the side.

    1. I'll post on volume 2 when completed, which should be in the next week. It treats the main line, Advance variation, and some sidelines. Probably should have been sequenced as volume 1 actually, but these DVD products from ChessLecture.com are basically compilations of individual lectures, so it doesn't matter that much.

      Vigorito is an excellent voice-over presenter and I think it makes a difference that he's got real tournament experience with the Caro-Kann. That gives him insights and personal knowledge of practical considerations that don't come with just theoretical works.


Your comments and ideas on chess training and this site are welcomed.

Please note that moderation is turned on as an anti-spam measure; your comment will be published as soon as possible, if it is not spam.