Is it possible to play the Caro-Kann aggressively/tactically as Black?

What are the attacking chances/ideas for black in the Caro-Kann? Or is it simply the wrong opening for that?

I found a few example games, where Black is crushing White in an attack on the king, e.g. in this grandmaster game: https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1103209

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    It is certainly possible, checkout Valentina Gunina, she is a GM with attacking style who plays the Caro-Kann.
    – Akavall
    Apr 13, 2021 at 1:32

2 Answers 2


In the Caro-Kann, white dictates the speed and sharpness of play. The exchange Caro-Kann typically shies away from tactical/aggressive positions. In the advance bf5, white can play h4 which leads to very aggressive, open, and tactical games for both white and black. You're likely looking for the Advance c5 which is a little more forcing for black that you're likely to get a tactical game.

Honestly, you're probably looking for a different answer to e4 if you want to play an aggressive game against white every time. The Latvian Gambit is losing for black with correct play but if you know the lines, it's easy for white to go wrong quickly.


I have found a nice line as Black which gives excellent attacking chances and rapid development at the cost of a double pawn.

The line can be reached via the two-knights or classical mainline variations of the Caro-Kann and include playing Nf6, where it can be captured with a check.

An example would be 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6. This line is completely playable, and Stockfish also considers it OK. Statistics of master games indicate, that White scores 10% more wins than in the mainline (lichess database), so it might be a bit risky (?), but I find it very enjoyable as Black. The opponent gets a center pawn majority, but the doubled f pawn also has benefits, as it adds extra protection to the king and can potentially later be used as a battering ram if the opponent also castles kingside.

I find this variation easier to play as Black, whereas I struggle to find plans in the traditional mainline and tend to get outplayed positionally.

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    This is the well-known Tartakower variation. It has been revived recently when people found the following key move: 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. Qc2 Re8+ 9. Ne2 h5! in the 2010s. This move makes it very difficult for white to castle kingside because of a quick h4-h3 thrust, and although it visually looks weakening, it actually keeps the kingside closed better than the alternatives in the case that white castles queenside and starts throwing pawns at you. Aug 19, 2021 at 17:09

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