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In the anti-Caro-Kann (also known as the Pseudo Panov-Botvinnik or Panov's little Brother), reached by 1. e4 c6 2. c4, what are the main differences between 2...d5 and 2...e5?

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1. e4 c6 2. c4 d5 (2...e5)

The reason why I ask this question is because I play the Black side of this opening, using 2...d5, as suggested in The Caro-Kann: Move-by-Move. I also own The Panov-Botvinnik: Move-by-Move, which covers 2...e5 but from White's point of view, so Black ends up making a mistake, or the author annotates the White moves more heavily.

1

They are based on two different strategies - in the e5 line, black focuses on preventing (or making less favourable) the d4 central grab. Black may continue with Bc5, d6, Qc7 (defending laterally), Nf6, Nbd7, Be6. White has a small space advantage thanks to ownership of d5 but probably not a lot more. It's a slow but solid development plan.

In the d5 line, black seeks to clarify the centre straightaway. After 1. exd5 cxd5 2. cxd5 black has some open lines and leaves white with an isolated queen pawn, however, after 2...Qxd5 3. Nc3 and 4. d4 white has a small development advantage. The game becomes about whether white's development advantage outweighs the potential weakness on d4.

2

I don't play this from either side, but apparently 2... d5 leads to positions known as isolated queen pawn (isolani) which can also result from many other openings. Look it up, there is lots of information out there about this. There is a fairly standard plan in these positions. White wants to avoid getting into an endgame where the pawn would be a weakness. Typically black would try to control the square in front of the isolani (i.e. d5 in this case) preventing white from exchanging the pawn playing d5 himself. White usually has a bit more active play in the middle-game.

I don't like 2...e5. If white attacks the e5 pawn, e.g. with 3. Nf3, black is almost forced to play 3...d6 and the set-up with pawns on e5,d6 and c6 is gernerally not good. White can later play d4 and open the d-file after which the pawn on d6 might get weak.

  • There is also plenty of lines in 2...d5 that are not IQP. – hoacin Feb 15 '17 at 9:48
  • +1, as an isolani is common in the 2...d5 variation. To expand on @hoacin's comment, 1. e4 c6 2. c4 d5 3. cxd4 cxd5 4. exd5 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nxd5 then 6...Nxc3 doesn't result in an isolani. – user1108 Feb 15 '17 at 10:11
  • @hoacin: In order to avoid IQP white would have to either play d3 or play 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. e5; neither of which seems very attractive to me. – user1583209 Feb 15 '17 at 10:15
  • @Bad_Bishop: And if black does not capture 6...Nxc3 ? – user1583209 Feb 15 '17 at 10:16
  • @user1583209: You're right, it's not obligated (chess isn't checkers), but Black usually plays 6...Nxc3 to play against the hanging pawns after bxc3 in an endgame (they are a slight structural weakness). – user1108 Feb 15 '17 at 10:21
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There is nothing similar with these two variations. Panov is unbalanced open game, both sides have some pros and cons.

The e5 is weak move, it leads to something that I think is called old indian defence, KID with bishop on e7, which makes black setup way too passive. No pressure on h8-a1 diagonal, no pressure on the e-file, no kingside attack.

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