I just finished two tournaments in austria, the lienz open and the graz open, excellently organized, and i am amazed by the amount of caro-kanns that were played in the latter. maybe it’s because the inventor of this opening, markus kann, is austrian? however, it seems that the caro-kann has now established itself as a good weapon in the Swiss openings, given that it is extremely difficult to break and the lack of forced simplification lines allows a reasonable margin for Black to play to win.
I’ve known young english grandmaster daniel fernandez since he was a young up-and-comer in singapore, and he’s always been known to be a bit of a maverick in openings. as such, he expected his first book, while in the relatively calm waters of the caro-kann, to consist not just of traditional stuff, but something enterprising and probably unconventional.
Reading: Bologan caro kann review
Daniel certainly did not disappoint. his choice of lines is exciting, not entirely conventional and he’s done quite a bit of research. for example, this is what it suggests against the critical advance variance:
daniel is ridiculously hardworking and generous with his analysis of the critical position above. many authors are likely to drop a line or two and conclude with “more evidence needed” or “position unclear” but this is where daniel is not afraid to shy away from deep and complex analysis and goes to great lengths to explain the total chaos that can occur in this line. And if that’s not enough, Daniel has a secondary recommendation against the advanced variation:
and to conclude the section on the advanced variation, daniel gave two additional chapters, one of which is a review of 3…c5!? which the Polish Olympic team used with great success in Batumi, and a section containing three “deeply annotated games for thematic structures in the advanced expensive”. I like Daniel’s instructional notes that players of all levels should be able to enjoy without being overwhelming.
against 3.nd2/3.nc3 which is the traditional way to respond to expensive, daniel recommends the smyslov variation (3…de4 4.ne4 nd7) which has recently come back into fashion thanks to efforts of the Chinese number one, ding liren. this is a refreshing choice given that almost all of caro-kann’s recent books have focused on the solid, mainstream 3…bf5. Once again Daniel went into considerable detail and after some digging I couldn’t find any fault with his analysis.
I think the modernized caro-kann is better suited for players who are at least 2000 strength, given the complexity of the lanes. This is not intended as a criticism: Daniel has chosen to focus on depth and originality, and this book is written for the ambitious player who, ideally, already has some knowledge of Caro-Kann and is looking to refresh his repertoire. however, it does mean that there is some limitation on the scope of the book’s audience. certainly, a newcomer to the game will be completely bewildered after going through the first five pages and is likely to pursue other significant interests in life.
There is a good introduction and summary at the beginning of each chapter, and there is plenty of prose to explain your thoughts clearly and coherently. I’m a little surprised that a correspondence database isn’t listed in the bibliography, but as long as there are no major omissions (which I haven’t found any), I’m happy to admit I’m getting into the bones here.
fernandez is a welcome addition to the publishing world and thinkers publishing has dealt a tremendous coup by adding him to their roster. I look forward to your next job.
victor bologan is no stranger to the world of chess publishing, having already written several books and filmed many dvds, all of which mainly focus on different openings. If Daniel’s stylistic approach is typical of a millennial, Bologan’s Caro-Kann is written in the complete opposite manner: old-school and extremely thorough to the point of encyclopedic level. there are a staggering 57 theoretical chapters and a final chapter consisting of 20 “black to move” positions.
Victor’s repertoire is made up of the most traditional and solid lines with the aim of first ensuring equality, which is in the spirit of how the caro-kann (the modernized caro-kann) is perceived please differ as you already know). As a very strong chess player, Victor has extensive experience in caro-kann and explained in the prologue how the opening became an important weapon in his chess career:
a very interesting introduction. One can immediately feel the difference in approach between this book and Daniel’s. bologan presents a rock solid and highly theoretical repertoire. While Daniel’s analysis is extremely in-depth on the most critical positions, Bologan makes sure that each line is covered with just enough detail for the reader to get by. While this means that there is limited room for innovation and original analysis, it ensures that the coverage is comprehensive, which will be useful for someone just beginning to learn Caro-Kann.
The book is structured in a very organized and cohesive way, and the many chapters (58!) allow for easy navigation. bologan has tried in some cases to give two recommendations, typically one that evens and even forces a draw without issue, and the other that allows more play. for example, in the panov, bologan got into an extremely deep and theoretical discussion in the following famous variation of the ending:
….as well as 6…be6 which is more enterprising. This is similar to Daniel’s recommendation in expensive kann modernized and seems to indicate a trend in recent opening books that offering options that differ in style and ambition is widely seen as adding value to players. readers.
My main problem with bologan’s repertoire is that he tends to go for the strongest lines and in some cases Black has to remember quite a bit to get into a lower endgame where he can probably hold with accurate play. for amateur players or even professional players who will need to win a few games with Black in Swiss openings, this doesn’t seem very practical. an example of what I mean can be seen in chapter 33 which discusses the absolute main line of classical variation.
Also, he recommends the more established setup against the trendy exchange variation that strives for equality more than anything else:
Overall, bologan’s caro-kann is a valuable resource for any player who wants to learn the caro-kann. the structure of the book is excellent and there is enough new material to interest master level players. I personally don’t find the choice of lines particularly exciting, but this is more a matter of taste. I would still recommend this book to expensive fans and white gamers would also find some useful ideas to incorporate into their arsenal.
quality chess needs no introduction to the serious chess player. His books are generally very popular and Él’s co-founder, Grandmaster Jacob Aagaard and his team of editors have built a formidable reputation over time for their obsession with detail and quality assurance. as such, I thought it was time to examine some of his work that is of great personal interest to me.
parimarjan negi’s 1.e4 repertoire series had a large following who swear by its recommendations but, as an amateur player, i personally had found the theory a bit overwhelming. As such, I was excited to learn that a second set of 1.e4 repertoire was to be published, this time by grandmaster and general manager of quality chess, John Shaw. Her preface to each book such as the following is particularly appealing:
“by creating a 1.e4 repertoire, one can pick the sharpest lines, cover them with all the academic details and provide a comprehensive repertoire spanning a multitude of volumes. theoretical challenges and “club player favourites.” “Like the King’s Indian Attack. My three volume series is by no means extreme. It offers a repertoire that I am confident will be effective even at the GM level, but demands a workload on the part of the reader that is manageable, although challenging in places.
The main defense found in this volume is the French one: 1.e4 e6. after 2.d4 d5 the absolute main line is 3.nc3 as negi covered in his gm 1.e4 repertoire. I think Negi’s anti-French chapters are among the best chess analyzes he has ever published, but keep in mind that Negi’s repertoire includes many sharp lines, so it needs to be updated regularly. I have a duty to offer an alternative, so I have taken a very different route to negi: I recommend the tarrasch variation with 3.nd2, which is popular at gm level but should be comparatively low maintenance.” 1.e4 – defense French and Sicilian margin)
just what I’m looking for! Shaw’s approach resonates with me and I bought the books as soon as they became available on advanced chess. His main repertoire options are the following:
vs 1…e5 – the Scottish and the modern 5.nc3 against the petroff
vs 1…e6 – the tarrasch variation
vs 1…c6 – the advancing variation with the sharp 4.h4 h5 5.bd3!?
vs 1…c5: A variety of Sicilian main lines because Shaw felt that “anti-Sicilians aren’t threatening enough to form an ambitious repertoire.”
after reading the series, I have no qualms about recommending it to a wide range of players, from amateur 1500 players to professional grandmasters. In order to fully appreciate why I think so, it might be easier to illustrate this by showing some games where I or my friends have used shaw’s recommendations.
The first is a game I recently played against a 2175 player who has played Alekhine for most of his life. Not wanting to mess with my usual lines, I took a look at Shaw’s book and decided to give his recommendation a punt:
Not my best game, but the surprise worked perfectly and it was my fault for almost ruining it by allowing too much counterplay.
The books contain many small but unpleasant surprises. his hyper-aggressive but weird approach against the sped-up dragon, for example, is a nice change from the usual kind of tight lanes. after going through it, i once again recommended irene sukandar to give it a try when she gets the chance. however, what we didn’t expect is that she would be on the receiving end……
A few months later, Irene was able to try the line once more, but this time with the white pieces. As expected, Black blundered very early in the game, but somehow escaped with a draw…
against the sicilian kan (or paulsen) variation which starts with the moves 1.e4 c5 2.nf3 e6 3.d4 cd 4.nxd4 a6, I’ve been playing the solid 5.c4 for a while now. was recommended by shaw as well as slightly older work but also excellent attacking the flexible sicilian of kotronias and semkov .
I’ve had pretty decent results with this move, but some players have essentially tried to force a draw by going into the next slightly worse but very draw ending against me:
games like these are extremely depressing! but imagine my horror when a few days later, with only 15 minutes to prepare (I had played a 5.5 hour game in the morning round of a double round day), I realized that my opponent is playing the exact same variation! ! so back to shaw one more time for a quick look…
I was amused after the game when my opponent said he knew 11.rd1 and that it was in “a john shaw book, but it’s a forced project anyway”. He’s probably right, but there are still practical difficulties for Black to solve and luckily it turned out to be a good lead for me that day. however, it does mean that I need to investigate these positions a little further since the game is now on base…….
moving on, I also started looking through shaw’s recommendations in french and quite amusingly found one of my games in the chapter on the guimard variant. I remember suffering so much in that game that I swore never to play guimard again. What I didn’t expect is that years later, I had the opportunity to play against Guimard. of course i decided to just follow thomas luther’s lead (and of course shaw’s too) and it worked once again to the end….
of course it’s impossible to please everyone and there are some recommendations I don’t like very much, like the amazingly sharp lines that shaw has championed stemming from the expensive advanced 4.h4 and 5.bd3.
The positions are so random that I think it’s impossible to replicate some of these variations on the board. However, credit must be given to Shaw for selecting a theoretically challenging line and investing a ton of time and energy and presenting all of his analysis there. It’s just not to my taste, but theory junkies who love super aggressive and tactical lines will be very interested in this chapter.
I guess it’s pretty obvious by now why I recommend this series: I’ve used a lot of these lines and have gotten good ratings pretty much every time I’ve tested the theoretical coverage of these books. Shaw’s writing style is fun to read, with hints of dry humor sprinkled throughout, and he doesn’t shy away from presenting deep theoretical analysis even as he claims his books are supposedly “lighter” compared to Negi’s books. . All in all, these books have achieved “must have” status for all 1.e4 players in my opinion.
Thank you so much for reading this far! As a quick preview, my next two reviews will cover some recent work on the Najdorf, some fascinating reading on the Sveshnikov Variation, and some game collections that have caught my eye. at the same time, I hope it won’t be another year before I post this