In this position in the Exchange Caro-Kann:

[FEN "r1bqkbnr/pp2pppp/2n5/3p4/3P4/2PB4/PP3PPP/RNBQK1NR b KQkq - 0 5"]

the computer suggests one of the continuations as:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Bd3 Nc6 5. c3 Qc7 6. h3 e6 7. Nf3 Bd6 8. O-O Nge7 9. Re1 O-O 10. Nbd2

However, the computer's top choice was to go 5... Nf6 instead of 5...Qc7, indicating that the knight on f6 isn't that bad on its own. This means that our position has something which needs the knight on e7.

Why does the black king's knight not go to f6 HERE?

  • 1
    If you flip the colors, then you're getting the exchange queen's gambit. The main move is to play Nge2 and eventually build with the Kasparov/Botvinnik f3+e4 plan. Is this something you've seen before or no? Jan 7, 2023 at 5:07
  • No, I haven't studied the QGE, I am a total beginner and this is the first ever opening I'm studying Jan 7, 2023 at 10:17
  • Ne2 then f5 to pressure the d pawn isn't uncommon in the caro, it can lead to exchanges and open files in the center and is part of what makes this opening so fascinating
    – brekker
    Jan 9, 2023 at 4:49
  • @brekker I asked Nge7, not Nbd2.I don't understand what Ne2 mans here. How does f5 pressure the d pawn? Jan 9, 2023 at 15:59
  • sorry nge7 not ne2, i was thinking about it all upside down
    – brekker
    Jan 9, 2023 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


IM Sielecki explains this in detail in his new course Keep it Simple 1. e4 2.0. He checks all Black ideas and also covers a line like this. He explains that White gets an easy game when the knight is developed to f6, because Black deprives himself of the play he has to compensate for his bad bishop. Usually, Black would not voluntarily lock the bishop in that way with e6, here is what Sielecki writes about that:

Black locks in the c8-bishop, which is not in the spirit of the Caro-Kann, you might think. However, in recent years this move has received some attention, as the setup involving ...Bd6 and ...Nge7 looks reasonable for Black. They have some control of the e5-square and might even play ...f6 at some point, stopping any ideas we may have about playing our knight to the attractive square e5.

Nf6 allows a strong knight outpost on e5, whereas when Black develops the knight to e7, f6 is always an option to smoke the knight out. The other idea of f6 is to prepare to get a big pawn center with e5 later. Sielecki recommends White striking at the center with c4 against that.

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