29 November 2023

Video completed: Guide to the Advance Caro-Kann

I recently completed the video by FM Aleksandar Randjelovic "Guide to the Advance Caro-Kann" which can be found on YouTube or with a companion article on Chess.com. At 15 minutes, it packs a number of useful concepts into an introductory but also practical reference to the opening.

At first he discusses the fundamental ideas behind the 3...Bf5 line, and points out the main disadvantage - the bishop being "bad" and getting harrassed by White. He then turns to examine the 3...c5 line, while alluding to its related French Defense structures.

If White plays "normal" moves, Black can leverage the fact it is a Caro-Kann and not French by freeing the Bc8 and ideally placing it on g4. This also allows ideal placement of the knights on c6 and f5. If White takes on c5 immediately, FM Randjelovic judges 4...Nc6 as still playable, but ...e6 is considered better by theory, threatening to immediately recapture the pawn. 

Halfway through, he says he prefers to focus on typical plans for Black, rather than particular variations/move-orders, given the unlikelihood of your opponent following exact variations. This is refreshing and appropriate for this type of opening setup, which is not extremely sharp. Ideas for Black include undermining White's queenside pawns with ...a5 and ...b6; where to place the Ng8 and why; and the surprising ...g5 idea, which can lead to a powerful pawn sacrifice if White gets greedy.

Some more general points are made about opening play, including the point that, when a player looks at choosing particular moves, they should pick the one they understand the best. This is because playing an "objectively best move" that lands you in an uncomfortable position is actually detrimental to your performance in the game.

The video and FM Randjelovic's take on the opening I found practical, valuable and refreshing. As I noted in the article's comments section, it is probably the best concise explanation of the ideas in the Caro-Kann I have seen, with a focus on 3...c5.

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