Chess Structures in Practice – CaroKann Formation

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Beginning of English Post – Comienza Post en Ingles

Just like many of you, I spent a fair amount of time last week following the US Chess Championship played in St Louis. There was plenty of excitement, the live broadcast was very good and more important than anything, the tournament featured what was arguably the strongest combination of twelve players to ever compete in the US Championship. Despite having plenty of nice games to choose from, I think that the game I will show next was the nicest illustration of concepts from Chess Structures put into practice.

Alexander Onischuk(2655) – Daniel Naroditsky(2633), US Chess Championship 2015

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bd6 6. Bg2 c6

The move order 6…0-0 7.0-0 Nbd7 8.Qc2 and only now 8…c6 seems to be more precise, making it harder for White to take control of the center.

 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Bg5! Nbd7 while 8…dxc4 was met by 9.Nd2 followed by 10.Nxc4 9. e4 dxe4 10. Nxe4 10…Bb4+ 11. Nc3!

In case of 11.Bd2? Bxd2 12.Nexd2 e5! and Black equalizes.

We have reached the CaroKann Formation (Chapter 3), where White has more space and a better control of the center. The assessment of this position depends almost exclusively on whether Black can find a way to break in the center to release his spatial disadvantage. Otherwise, White will enjoy a lasting positional edge.

11…h6  getting rid of the pin, aiming to create some counterplay with …Ne4

It seems Black did not have better options, for example 11…c5 12. 0-0 cxd4 13. Qxd4 where White has superior coordination. Also 11…Qa5 12.Bd2 e5 is met by 13.a3! Bxc3 14.Bxc3 Qa6 15 0-0! with a big advantage.

12. Bf4 Ne4 13. Qc2 Nxc3 14. bxc3 Ba5 15. O-O

This is a good moment to evaluate the position. The structure has changed slightly since White now has doubled c pawns (which also means he has a semi-open b-file. Black has been unable to release his position with either …c6-c5 or …e6-e5 and having his bishop trapped on c8 only adds to his misery. White has a very comfortable advantage.

15…Bc7 trading pieces is good, but this also gives up control of dark squares, which is not so good… 16. Qe4 Bxf4 17. Qxf4 b6 18. Rfd1 Bb7 19. c5! A thematic move in this structure, locking Black’s bishop.

19…Rc8 20. Rab1 Ba8 21. Ne5! Onischuk knows his advantage comes from his strong bishop on g2 versus the poor bishop on a8. Knights are only accessory pieces hence can be traded, 21…Qe7 22. Nxd7 Qxd7 23. a4!

Notice how White does not capture Black’s pawn on b6, since this would release the bishop on a8. 23…Rfd8 24. Bf3 Qe7 attacking the c5 pawn, hoping White will finally take on b6 allowing Black to liberate his position.

White’s also much better after 24… bxc5 25. dxc5 Qe7 26.Rd6.

25. Qe5! bxc5 26. Qxc5 Qc7? too passive, keeping queens on the board will not help Black

In case of 26… Qxc5 27. dxc5 Kf8 28. a5 Ke7 29. a6 Black’s bishop is trapped on a8, but his chances of holding are better than in the game since White does not have entry points at the moment.

27. a5  White can improve slowly, a typical feature of this pawn structure when White’s central domination works out.

27…Rb8 28. c4 Qd7 29. h4 Rbc8 30. Kg2 Rc7 31.Rb3 Qc8 Black’s position continues to deteriorate, how should White proceed in the creation of new weaknesses?

32. g4! White’s central domination allows for a risk-free kingside expansion 32…Rcd7 33. g5 hxg5 34. hxg5 Qc7 35. Re3 Qd6 36. Qxd6 Rxd6

37. c5! Rxd4 38. Rxd4 Rxd4 39. Rb3 Rd8 40. a6! Kf8 41. Be4 White has a rather picturesque position, he is a pawn down but has a great advantage due to the permanently trapped bishop on a8; Black’s position is critical.

41…f5? the decisive mistake

More solid was was 41… Ke7 though after 42.f4 White will improve slowly and win, as an example take 42…Rd2 43.Kf3 Rd8 44.f5 e5 45 Rd3 Rh8 46 Rd6, to follow with f5-f6 with a great advantage.

42. gxf6 gxf6 43. Rh3?! even stronger was the direct 43. Rd3! winning similar to the game 43… Kg8

More stubborn was 43… Rd4!, though after the precise forced sequence 44. Rh8+ Kg7 45. Rh7+ 45… Kg8 46. Bg6!1 Rg4+ 47. Kf3 Rxg6 48. Rxa7 Rg1 49. Rxa8+ Kg7 50. Rc8 Ra1 51. Rxc6 White is winning without problems

44. Rd3! Rxd3 45. Bxd3

Black is completely hopeless because he is essentially playing without a bishop, and will be unable to prevent White from penetrating decisively on the center/kingside.

45…f5 46. f4 Kg7 47. Kf3 Kf6 48. Ke3 e5 49. Bc4 e4 50. Kd4 1-0 White’s king is coming into e5 to decide the game and Black decided it was time to resign.

Interestingly enough, Black could still try one last trick, which is 50…Kg6 51. Be6 Kf6 52. Bc8 Ke7 53. Bb7?? 53… Kd7! and the game is draw after  54. Bxa8 Kc7 where White cannot make progress. Of course, White was winning easily with either 51. Ke5 or 53. Bxf5.

Final Remarks

  • It is hard to pinpoint exactly where things went so wrong for Black. After a slightly imprecise opening White was simply better for the rest of the game. The crucial point though is that Black did not find a way to carry out the standard central breaks.
  • Once again, similar to example Ivanisevic – Ascic (Chapter 3) the idea c4-c5 proved very effective at restricting Black’s bishop on c8, securing a lasting advantage for White.

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Chess Structures en Practice – Estructura CaroKann

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Tal y como muchos de ustedes, me pase una buena parte de la semana pasada siguiendo las partidas del Campeonato de Estados Unidos, jugado en la ciudad de Saint Louis. Hubieron muchas partidas emocionantes, la transmision en directo fue muy buena, y mas importante que todo, el torneo tuvo una combinacion de 12 jugadores muy fuertes, posiblemente el torneo de EEUU mas fuerte que se ha visto hasta el momento. A pesar de que hubieron muchas partidas interesantes para escoger, creo que la partida siguiente es por lejos el mejor ejemplo de como los conceptos de Chess Structures se ponen en la practica.

Alexander Onischuk(2655) – Daniel Naroditsky(2633), US Chess Championship 2015

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bd6 6. Bg2 c6

El orden 6…0-0 7.0-0 Nbd7 8.Qc2 y solo ahora8…c6 parece ser mas preciso, impidiendo que las blancas se apoderen del centro con tanta facilidad.

 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Bg5! Nbd7 mientras que 8…dxc4 se responde con 9.Nd2 seguido de 10.Nxc4 9. e4 dxe4 10. Nxe4 10…Bb4+ 11. Nc3!

En caso de 11.Bd2? Bxd2 12.Nexd2 e5! y las negras igualan.

Hemos llegado a la formacion CaroKann (Capitulo 3), donde las blancas tienen mas espacio y un mejor control del centro. La evaluacion de esta posicion depende casi exclusivamente de si acaso las negras son capaces de romper en el centro liberando su posicion. De no ser asi, el blanco tendra una ventaja duradera.

11…h6  deshaciendose de la clavada, con tal de crear contrajuego con …Ne4

Parece que las negras no tienen mejores opciones, por ejemplo 11…c5 12. 0-0 cxd4 13. Qxd4 donde las blancas tienen una coordinacion superior. También 11…Qa5 12.Bd2 e5, se responde con 13.a3! Bxc3 14.Bxc3 Qa6 15 0-0! con gran ventaja.

12. Bf4 Ne4 13. Qc2 Nxc3 14. bxc3 Ba5 15. O-O

Este es un buen momento para evaluar la posicion. La estructura ha cambiado un poco dado que ahora las blancas tienen peones doblados en la columna c, lo cual tambien implica que tienen una columna b semiabierta. El negro ha sido incapaz de liberarse con …c6-c5 o …e6-e5 y tener su alfil atrapado en c8 solo empeora las cosas. Las blancas tienen una ventaja comoda.

15…Bc7 cambiando pieces lo cual es bueno, pero tambien perdiendo control sobre las casillas oscuras, lo cual no es tan bueno…16. Qe4 Bxf4 17. Qxf4 b6 18. Rfd1 Bb7 19. c5! Una jugada tematica en la estructura, restringiendo el alfil de c8.

19…Rc8 20. Rab1 Ba8 21. Ne5! Onischuk sabe que su ventaja radica en la diferencia de los alfiles, su alfil en g2 es bueno y el alfil en a8 es malo. Los caballos solo son piezas accesorias y se pueden intercambiar, 21…Qe7 22. Nxd7 Qxd7 23. a4!

Notese como las blancas no capturan el peon de b6, dado que esto liberaria el alfil de a8. 23…Rfd8 24. Bf3 Qe7 atacando el peon de c5, con la esperanza que el blanco finalmente capture en b6 liberando la posicion negra.

Las blancas tambien estan mucho mejor despues de 24… bxc5 25. dxc5 Qe7 26.Rd6.

25. Qe5! bxc5 26. Qxc5 Qc7? muy pasivo, mantener las damas no ayuda al negro.

En caso de 26… Qxc5 27. dxc5 Kf8 28. a5 Ke7 29. a6 el alfil negro esta atrapado, pero sus chances de defenderse son mejores que en la partida dado que el blanco tiene menos puntos de entrada.

27. a5  Las blancas pueden mejorar lentamente, una caracteristica tipica de la estructura cuando la estrategia de dominacion blanca da resultados.

27…Rb8 28. c4 Qd7 29. h4 Rbc8 30. Kg2 Rc7 31.Rb3 Qc8 La posicion negra continua deteriorandose, como deben proceder las blancas para crear nuevas debilidades?

32. g4! La dominacion central blanca le permite expandise en el flanco de rey sin riesgos 32…Rcd7 33. g5 hxg5 34. hxg5 Qc7 35. Re3 Qd6 36. Qxd6 Rxd6

37. c5! Rxd4 38. Rxd4 Rxd4 39. Rb3 Rd8 40. a6! Kf8 41. Be4 El blanco tiene una posicion visualmente agradable, tiene un peon de menos pero el alfil negro esta completamente atrapado en a8, dandole una gran ventaja. La posicion negra es critica.

41…f5? el error decisivo.

Mas solida era 41… Ke7 aunque despues de 42.f4 el blanco puede mejorar lentamente hasta ganar, por ejemplo 42…Rd2 43.Kf3 Rd8 44.f5 e5 45 Rd3 Rh8 46 Rd6, to follow with f5-f6 con gran ventaja.

42. gxf6 gxf6 43. Rh3?! aun mejor era la directa 43. Rd3! similar a la partida 43… Kg8 

Mejor defensa era 43… Rd4!, aunque despues de la sequencia forzada 44. Rh8+ Kg7 45. Rh7+ 45… Kg8 46. Bg6!1 Rg4+ 47. Kf3 Rxg6 48. Rxa7 Rg1 49. Rxa8+ Kg7 50. Rc8 Ra1 51. Rxc6 el blanco gana sin problemas.

44. Rd3! Rxd3 45. Bxd3

El negro esta completamente perdido, dado que esta jugando con alfil de menos y no se pueden bloquear todas las entradas del rey blanco.

45…f5 46. f4 Kg7 47. Kf3 Kf6 48. Ke3 e5 49. Bc4 e4 50. Kd4 1-0 El rey blanco entra en e5 en forma decisiva y el negro decidio rendirse.

Es curioso que en esta posicion el negro todavia tenia un ultimo truco para probar, que era 50…Kg6 51. Be6 Kf6 52. Bc8 Ke7 53. Bb7?? 53… Kd7! y la partida es tablas despues de  54. Bxa8 Kc7 dado que el blanco no puede progresar. Por supuesto el blanco ganaba facil despues de 51. Ke5 o 53. Bxf5.

Comentarios Finales

  • Es dificil señalar exactamente donde fue que las negras arruinaron su posicion. Despues de una pequeña imprecision en la apertura el blanco simplemente quedo mejor para el resto de la partida. El punto clave fue que el negro no fue capaz de liberarse con los golpes estandard.
  • Una vez mas, tal y como ocurre en el ejemplo Ivanisevic – Ascic (Chapter 3) la idea c4-c5 provo ser efectiva para el blanco, al restringir el alfil negro en forma decisiva.

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7 thoughts on “Chess Structures in Practice – CaroKann Formation

  1. Massimo

    As a Caro-Kann player i was attracted by this article (i’v found it in Quality Chess website). Now i look to the book index and decided to buy it. I like the structure…. 🙂 of the book. Also your comments here are very instructional

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Fer

    Nice post Mauricio, and nice game by Onischuck.
    Really difficult to find out where black lost the game. In the light of this game, would you recomend to play a different kind of structures, that caro ones?
    I heard that Jan Gustavsson said that best answers for black to e4 where e5 o c5, because other give white more space. could you tell us your opinion? Thx!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Mauricio Flores Post author

      I think the CaroKann structure can be a little passive, but if you play it well you can still aim for the full point. Nevertheless, I think playing a well studied Sicilan is much more fun and allows to play for a win more easily (though with a higher risk of losing too). Take care!

      Like

      Reply
      1. massimock

        Too early for me the Sicilian 🙂
        The book is arrived. Monumental work!
        I think that is quite good for me this plan: Carefully study Family 1 and then jump to Family5. Like i wrote above i Always play Caro-Kann and also Grunfeld. As a white the Alapin against the Sicilian 🙂
        Is it a good starting point?

        Like

      2. Mauricio Flores Post author

        I think that is a good idea, Family 1 is probably the most important, and it is also somewhat simpler than the others, so that should help you. Let me ask you, why do you want to go for Family 5 after Family 1? Do you plan to change your opening repertoire?

        See you!

        Like

      3. massimock

        Thank you Mauricio. No i’m not planning to change repertoire. The fact is that like black, i often face the Advance Var. of the Caro, and like White i Always play the advance against the French! Even with quite good results 🙂 This is the reason of my choice.
        Thank you,
        Massimo.

        Like

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