In the Caro-Kann, Botvinnik-Carl's defence, Black typically wants White to take on c5 so Black can play e6, preparing Bxc5 and Nc6. However, I have been seeing the move c3 after c5 a lot.

How can I deal with White's supporting of their center pawn chain?

[FEN ""]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5
  • did you mean c3? the difference i can see with c3 here and the advanced french is that blacks c8 bishop now has squares so it can go to Bf5 or even Bg4 to try to remove a defender of d4 (the N on f3). say a move order like c5 c3 Nc6 Nf3 Bg4 followed by Qb6 and so on
    – cmgchess
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 2:00
  • @cmgchess I did, thanks for the correction.
    – Ryley
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 5:55

1 Answer 1


The move 4. c3 does two things:

  • it supports the white center
  • it states that white is not willing to take on c5

It is especially the latter, which is crucial. If white doesn't want to take and keep his centre intact black can play a "sort-of french" setup but without blacks biggest shortcoming there: the light-quared bishop and its lack of options. If white is not willing to take on c5 on move 4 he won't do so on move 5 or 6 either, hence:

[FEN ""]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bg4  6. Be2 e6!?

Develop the bishop c8 (to f5 or, after Nf3, to g4), only then play e6, arriving at a "french defense, advance variation", but without the bad bishop. The rest of the pieces develop like in the french defense: Nb8 goes to c6, Ng8 goes to e7 and f5 eventually (in rare cases to g6), Bf8 to e7, etc.. The plans are similar too: put pressure on the white centre with the levers c5 (this is already played) and f7-f6. If the bishop g4 is attacked or questioned with h3 it is probably best to exchange it for the Nf3, thereby diminishing whites control of the dark squares in the center (d4, e5). Retreating it to g6 would take possible squares away from the Ng8 to go to. Also, expand on the queen side where you have a space advantage.

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