18 May 2020

Video completed - Studies in: The Caro-Kann Defense 2

I recently completed the "Studies in: The Caro-Kann Defense 2" DVD. This second volume, including content from IM David Vigorito and IM Bryan Smith, is more systematic than volume 1 in examining several different Caro-Kann variations, although example games still play a role in the presentations. As with the first one, the comments about typical plans involving piece placement and how to evaluate the resulting positions are for me the most valuable parts.

This volume's contents are actually an older collection of ChessLecture.com videos than were in the first one, so the order of the two "Studies" volumes seems backwards. You're probably better off starting with volume 2, although it doesn't matter all that much. This volume is somewhat more oriented toward looking at the opening from the Black point of view, although different White approaches are objectively looked at as well, and the White point of view is taken in the "Fantasies" sections at the end.

Summary of contents, with comments, follows. Note that the "PGN included" mentioned on the cover is a file with just a single unannotated game (Tiviakov-Dreev) and does not include any of the other games mentioned in the lectures, which is a bit disappointing (and deceptive marketing - come on guys, you're better than that).

Classical Caro-Kann 4...Bf5: Part I (Tiviakov - Dreev)
  • First part is general concepts and theory
  • Looks at two Black responses to 5. Nc5
  • Shows move-order trick if White delays playing h4
  • Looks at 6. N1e2 with early ...Bd6 response from Black
  • 6. Nf3 - good explanation of why Black does not exchange bishops on d3; a "let's just play chess" type of move; Black plan is to go for ...c5 or ...b5 advance
  • 6. f4 - again an early ...Bd6 response followed by ...Ne7
  • 6. Bc4 is considered the main sideline, followed by N1e2; 7...Bd6 response again considered the most safe
  • Tivakov-Dreev is shown as a miniature win for Black in the 6. Bc4 line
Classical Caro-Kann 4...Bf5: Part II
  • Covers main line with 6. h4
  • Good explanation of move-order significance of 7. Nf3 vs. h5 as follow-up for White
  • Gets into the Bf4 vs Bd2 options for White and Black's responses, with kingside castling plan
  • IM Vigorito then focuses on the old queenside castling plan for Black, which is still playable
  • Analysis extends into middlegame and endgame in these lines
Advance Caro-Kann for Black: Part I
  • Done by IM Vigorito from Black's point of view, with 3...Bf5; says 3...c5 is "interesting but risky" and doesn't treat it further
  • Focuses on "sharp" lines by White (4. Nc3 followed by g4)
  • Black should reply with a plan involving ...c5, according to Vigorito
  • Some similarities to French structures, including Winawer
  • A few possibilities are highlighted in response to White moves, but a clear recommendation is given in each case, with evaluations explained succinctly for both strategic and tactical points
Advance Caro-Kann for Black: Part II
  • "Slower" lines overview - more positional
  • 4. Nf3 - Short system; White idea of opening the position with c4
  • As with other lectures, examines what doesn't work for strategic/tactical reasons and why
  • 4. Be3
  • Other miscellaneous possibilities on move 4; have to be careful with 4. h4 as Black
  • Talks about knowing where the pieces should go, not rush with ...c5 as the main principles
Fantasies in the Caro-Kann
  • IM Bryan Smith - looks at the Fantasy Variation (3. f3), from White's point of view; has played it a dozen times in tournaments, with good results
  • Original critical line is 3...dxe4 followed by 4...e5
  • Both sides can get in trouble early if not following optimal path; Black's problem is getting too greedy or neglecting development, White's is allowing exchanges instead of developing
  • Other main options for Black include 3...e6, 3...g6; former can turn into an Advance French
  • Some stream of consciousness instead of preparation and analysis when discussing example games
Fantasies in the Caro-Kann: Part II: Odds & Ends
  • Fantasy variation from the White point of view again, with less common Black replies (3...e5, 3...Nf6, 3...Qb6)
  • Some slightly annoying microphone issues (rasping sound) degrade the audio quality
  • A fairly detailed look at the various options for both sides
  • Of interest mostly for White players of this variation, although if Black wants to play one of the choices it's worth a look.

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