Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Caro-Kann with 6...Bg4

In this variation, characterized by Black's pinning White's King Knight after all the Knights are developed, White allows the garbaging of his King-side Pawns in exchange for some initiative on the Queen-side. Black is two tempi away from being able to castle, a shortcoming White hopes to exploit.

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 cd ed 4 c4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Nf3 Bg4 7 cd Nxd5 8 Qb3 BxN 9 PxB

Here is the fascinating crossroads. BCO2 gives only 9...e6 and 9...Nb6. However, a review of my saved games shows 9 out of 17 opponents have played 9...NxN here. 7 played 9...Nb6, and only one played 9...e6.

A database search shows relatively few games with 9...NxN. Of the 12 games, White scored 9 and a half! After 10 PxN, 7 Blacks played 10...Qb6, 3 played 10...Qc7, and one each for 10..Qc8 and 10...Qd7, all of which guard the Pawn on b7 which White is threatening.

After 10...Qb6, the most usual continuation is 11 QxQ PxQ 12 Rb1 0-0-0.

After 10...Qc7, which 2/3 of my opponents have played but only 1/4 of Blacks in the database, I have usually tried 11 Bb5. However, all 3 Whites in the database played 11 Bf4!, offering the Bishop to lure the Queen away from her b7 guard duty.

The book line after 9...e6 runs 10 Qxb7 Nxd4 11 Bb5ch Nxb5 12 Qc6ch Ke7 13 Qxb5 Nxc3 or 13...Qd7.

After 9...Nb6 it runs 10 Be3 e6 11 Rg1 g6 12 0-0-0 Be7 13 d5 ed=.

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