07 January 2024

Annotated Game #262: An unhappy introduction to the Fantasy Variation

This next tournament game was an unhappy introduction for me to the Fantasy Variation of the Caro-Kann. I've had it in my repertoire for some time, but had never played it at the tournament level before, so was unable to solve the early problems at the board and went astray quickly. White chooses the most classical (and threatening) setup in response to 3...g6!? and while I correctly concluded 5...Qb6 was the correct response to White's bishop development, I was unwilling to go for the "poison pawn" on b2 as a follow-up - which is the only correct move, however. The rest of the game demonstrates the superiority of White's pieces in the face of solid-looking but erroneous play.

For chess improvers, this is a very pointed example of why regular tournament games, accompanied by analysis and refinement of your own play and repertoire, is a necessary and virtuous cycle. You are much more likely to recognize, remember and respond to situations on the board that are familiar firsthand as well as studied, rather than simply memorized. This is one of the reasons chessplayers typically lose more often with a new opening, but then accumulate experience and start winning more. I look forward to establishing a more effective battle rhythm.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class B"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B15"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Dragon 3.2"] [PlyCount "35"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 {this was the first time I had faced the Fantasy Variation in tournament play.} g6 {this is an alternative way of declining it that avoids standard book variations and leads to some strange-looking positions. Unfortunately this was about all I remembered about it.} 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. Be3 Qb6 {I thought for some time on this and according to the database it's the best move. Black takes advantage of the missing bishop from the queenside and pressures d4.} 6. Qd2 {unfortunately I really had no idea what to do by this point. Taking on b2 is necessary, but I eventually went for the "safer" text move.} e6 $2 {unfortunately this move in fact puts Black in considerable jeopardy.} 7. O-O-O {White already has a near-winning advantage here, which at least makes me feel less bad about the subsequent blunder on move 9. The queen is doing nothing useful anymore on b6 and Black is behind in development, with king safety starting to become a problem.} Nd7 8. h4 {my opponent clearly understands how to play this type of position, while I do not. This is a natural attacking plan, now that the king is on the opposite wing. Now comes the blunder on move 9, after a futile queen move; however, the engine already gives White a +2 advantage.} (8. Qd3) 8... Qc7 9. h5 b5 $2 {the main thinking process lesson from this move was ignoring the ability of White to change the "static" central structure, as the Black c-pawn is now positionally overloaded. I also partly hallucinated that a White Nb5 would be unprotected - in fact the Bf1 does that.} 10. exd5 $1 cxd5 {the other recapture is slightly better according to the engine, but I couldn't bring myself to open the file to my uncastled king.} 11. Nxb5 {after this and the follow-up move the game is essentially over, although I had (very small) hopes of a swindle based on pinning the Qd2 against the king, or some sort of cheapo mate on b2.} Qb6 12. Bf4 g5 13. Nc7+ Ke7 14. Nxa8 Qb7 15. Bxg5+ f6 16. Bf4 Kf7 (16... Qxa8 {Black is still very lost here, but I didn't even realize I could take the knight, focused as I was on the cheapo mate possibilities.}) 17. Nc7 Ne7 18. Nb5 1-0


  1. You could try turning the Fantasy in a French with 3…e6. Lines with a possible/mandatory …Qxb2 are always venomous.

    1. There are certainly other (and perhaps better) answers to the Fantasy Variation than 3...g6, including 3...e6. It's a question of how much time, effort and mental space one can invest in different parts of a full opening repertoire.


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