Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Caveman Caro-Kann: Advance Variation with 4.h4

Black to play after 8.e6!!

I have posted an article on what I call "The Caveman Caro-Kann: Advance Variation with h4." It's for players who believe White deserves to get a powerful initiative out of the opening, especially after 1.e4 c6. I examine a number of lines that follow 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 (also 3...c5!?) 4.h4, when White grabs space on the kingside and would love to trap Black's Bishop if he foolishly continues 4...e6?? 5.g4 Bg6 6.h5 Be4 7.f3 etc. Another fiendish idea follows 4...h6 5.g4 Bh7? 6.e6! and Black is pretty well busted as the sample games demonstrate. The line with 4.h4 fell into disfavor following Tal's mishandling of it against Botvinnik in their second World Championship match in 1961. But recent games (especially of Kramnik and Short, which I discuss) suggest that White gets lots of interesting pressure even against good defense.

I take as my main line an interesting recent game where White allows Black's Queen to snatch his Rook at a1 then demonstrates that she is trapped like a mastodon tumbled into the pit to extinction. It is a stunning concept and has to be seen to be believed (not unlike that equally deep Nuclear Option in the Sicilian Grand Prix discussed here in October). Computers have surely deepened the traps that are lurking out there for the unwary....

I have been looking at a number of lines in the Advance Variation and will likely post a webliography of interesting material later this week. Meanwhile, I'll just mention Andrew Martin's Bits and Pieces column (and follow-up discussion) on 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Ne2!? from the archives, and material on the Short system with 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 from the Informant at ChessCafe (plus some wild training positions from various Advance lines published some weeks later).


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