Sunday, January 04, 2009

Opening distraction

Allthough I don't want to spend time on openings before Corus I can't simply help to worry about it. After some research I'm convinced that the Scandinavian 3. ... Qd6 which I have adopted lately and the Taimanov Sicilian aren't the openings for me. Remain the French and the Caro Kann.

Actually I want to learn both systems. I don't know if I'm right, but I have the feeling that if I learn the idea's of the French first, that will be of great help when starting with the Caro Kann. Is there anybody who can confirm this?

In the mean time I will have to fall back on my old 2. ... Nf6 Scandinavian against 1.e4 for Corus. But since I'm playing at a higher level now I'm no longer happy with the involved gambitlines.

The actual preparation I intend to do when I'm not distracted by blogging and openings is solving the positional problems of Aagaards excelling at positional chess.


  1. I don't know about the Caro/French connection. I do know ther's a connection between the Caro/Scandinavian and Alekhine's as in certain structures that can arise from the openings. So once again i suggest you take a look at Alekhine's again if you don't feel happy with the Scandy. Your opponents will certainly be less prepared to meet it. Proof of the connection between Caro and Alekhine mught be one of my favourite players Vladimir Bagirov who was quite succesfull with both systems. Good luck @ Corus. Unfortunately, it is not the right time for me to participate this year. But there will quite a few fellow club players participating of which i believe you're familair with atleast one. Namely Luc van Dijk if i'm not mistaking.

  2. CMoB,
    I see you have taken my advice to heart. Good to see you in the air again!

  3. Quite a few typo's in my comment :)

    Well you know Tempo, about your advice, i've always toyed with the idea. So it was bound to happen sooner or later.

  4. I see a Caro-Scandinavian-Slav link but I'm not sure I see a Caro-French link except in the Advance. But I do not play the French--chesstiger does!

  5. Interesting. Playing with both you will likely decide quite fast which one feels better, better suits your style.

    There are lots of similarities. In both you ultimately want to play c5 , d5, and e6. In the French, by playing e6 right away, you get a bad bishop, but preserve the ability to play c5 in one stroke.

    In the Caro, by playing c6 first, you avoid the bad bishop problem, but the cost is you now have to "waste" another tempo by playing c5. Plus, you have to learn to be comfortable with a Knight on d7 instead of c6 in many lines, though I believe this is also common in the French.

    Both have an advance variation: the advance French really leaves black cramped and looking for squares to put his pieces (same for the Caro advance, but even worse b/c of that Bishop from hell). Both have an exchange variation, and the French exchange is much more drawish than the structurally unbalanced Caro exchange (just look at the symmetry in the position after the exchange in the French).

    I admit it, I am biased toward the Caro. :)

    OTOH, I think there is a better literature out there on the French than the Caro. The Caro literature tends to have awful coverage of early deviations, while for some reason the French books seem much more thorough, especially Watson's book.

    On the third hand, white tends to not know what he is doing against the Caro.

  6. In my experience learning the French might help you a bit when it comes to handling the Advance Caro-Kann, especially if you want to meet it with 3...c5. Otherwise there's not much of a connection unless you intend to play 3...dxe4 in the French (in which case you really shouldn't bother; just play the Caro). The 1.e4 defence most similar to the Caro is the 3...Qa5 Scandinavian, so perhaps you might want to look into that. OTOH, learning the French would be more helpful if you were taking up the Taimanov Sicilian - Black's best way of dealing with anti-...e6 Sicilians is often to head for a French-like position.

  7. I am (several) days late and 2 cents short as I sound off on this discussion. I apologize since I’ve been stuck in the time machine. I used to play the French back in a day and always hated the concession of a delayed queen bishop development but I never had an issue with infiltration of the queenside via white’s target seeking Qb3 or Bb5 moves. Rather, I had problems on the king side as all my farm animals were penned in on the queen side.

    The Caro-Kann was an opening I chose 4 years ago since it had similar positional ideas as the Slav and ( at the time) the London system which I now have abandoned as white. I was pleased to discover that the problem “French” bishop was now rescued from self imprisonment and never fully appreciated the cost behind it until I started playing strong opponents. Once Bf5 is deployed and locked with e6, I now have to put up with the pesky Qb3 and Bb5 stuff. With a pawn on e6 I’d prefer to have my queen’s knight on c6 thus the need to advance c6 to c5 eventually … if I can.

    There are trade-offs. I’ve gotten used to the stodgy development of the mainline c-k and willingly trade it off if offered via White’s Bd3 move. I am at the point though where I desire something more. Soon I may even look at embracing the defense I fear the most, The Sicilian!!! I want to complete my historic time travels through Z1953 first ( ETA Spring 09) before I use up band width for an opening transition.

    Bottom line, I’ve learned to the C-K as much as the French, but in either case I can at least get to a middle game and focus on position. What sucks with either is that often I come out of the opening confined to a cramped position and have to open it with the c-pawn and/or the f-pawn.