The Caro-Kann has often been maligned for being dry and boring, played by those wishing to bore their opponents to death.” – IM (WGM) Jovanka Houska

Are there other defenses in which black can bore white to death? For example, when white starts with

  • 1. d4.
  • The English Opening.
  • The Reti Opening.

Other than the opening choice, are there are other strategies if black wishes to bore white to death? How about if white wishes to bore black to death?

Other than the opening choice, what are other strategies to bore your opponent?

  • 2
    I would add the French Rubinstein for Black: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Sc3/Sd2 dxe4 4. Sxe4. Very often Black establishes a Caro-Kann pawn structure.
    – Peter G.
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 12:58
  • I love how the "caro-kann" tag is used in a question about how to bore your opponent!
    – David
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 8:48
  • @PeterG. I like you calling a knight "S". I assume it means "Springer"?
    – Zuriel
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 20:18

3 Answers 3


The London system (for White), the Caro-Kann and the Classical Slav with ...Bf5 (for Black), are extremely similar, we are aiming for the same setup (c3, d4, e3, Bf4, Nf3, Nbd2, 0-0, h3, Bd3 or Be2) in all of them, so they fit well together in a repertoire, and they all have the reputation of being extremely boring, especially the Slav Exchange variation that has an extremely high draw percentage and the London system that is nicknamed "the boring system" and "the old man variation".

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Other openings that are considered to be boring are the French Exchange variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5) and the Petrov (1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6).

Generally, the openings that are considered boring are either the openings that have a high draw percentage because they are symmetrical (Slav Exchange, French Exchange, Petrov) or the openings that are very positional, slow, quiet, solid, safe, passive, unambitious (London system, Caro-Kann).

  • 1
    Note that in the exchange variations that you mention, it is White who chooses "boredom" (the London system also starts with White's choice, of course).
    – itub
    Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 15:15
  • This is assuming your opponent enjoys wild attacking games and gets bored in strategical/endgame positions, which may or may not be the case
    – David
    Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 15:17
  • Thank you! Is Bf5 a good idea in classical Slav? I have asked a related question and people do not seem to support Bf5. chess.stackexchange.com/questions/26983/…
    – Zuriel
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 19:42
  • 1
    @Zuriel: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Bf5? is bad for Black. The correct way to play the ...Bf5 Slav is: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 (3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Qb3 Bc8 it's a Slav Exchange where White has blocked in his Queen's Bishop so it's a good option for Black and it's boring (6...Nc6 is the Glasgow Kiss Gambit, a good option but not boring)) Nf6 4.Nc3 (4.e3 Bf5 the Slow Slav) dxc4 5.a4 Bf5.
    – Fate
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 5:09
  • @Fate Thank you! I feel that in this line, black is playing London system reversed. Quite interesting!
    – Zuriel
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 3:08

The Berlin Wall in response to the Ruy Lopez is the classic "boring" opening.

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1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8 Kxd8

It results in a very dry queenless middlegame where Black's advantage of having the two bishops is balanced by White's kingside pawn majority which is far more likely to result in a passed pawn than Black's queenside majority. Breaking down the Berlin Wall is a difficult proposition as even Kasparov found in his world championship match with Kramnik.

  • Thank you! As black, I fear that after 1. e4 e5, white can play 2.f4 and make the game much more interesting. Surely King's Gambit is fine for black, but it is not what I am aiming for.
    – Zuriel
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 19:44

People have already suggested the Slav, which is very much true. However, it does depend on the variation of the Slav you are playing, as some of the variations can get quite tactical. If I had to make a specific recommendation, I'd recommend the a6 Slav, which goes like this: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 (or Nc3) Nf6 4. Nc3 (or Nf3) a6 The main line here goes 5. e3 b5 where b3, cxb5, cxd5, and c5 are all perfectly fine variations. 5. c5 is also perfectly fine, as is cxd5 (transposing to a line of the Exchange Slav).

I play this myself, and it certainly answers your question- it's very boring.

Another user suggested the Berlin, which is fair, and it's the textbook example.

Against the English you can go for c6 which often transposes back into a Slav. Same with the Reti and if they continue with g3 you can just go for a reversed London System.

The London System, as suggested, is also pretty boring and slow (I know so, since I've done it myself!)

These mesh together wonderfully in a repertoire.

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