I am not sure what to play as Black in the Classical Variation of the Caro-Kann, after 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3

  [StartPly "19"]

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  1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3

What I would like is the most positional, strategic, quiet, slow, closed, boring, dry and solid variation (the variation which is the least sharp and tactical).
And I would like to castle on the same side as White.

So what exactly should I play? And what are the differences between starting first with 10...e6 or 10...Qc7 or 10...Ngf6 ?

  • 4
    Karpov generally preferred the positions you describe, and he is a big Caro-Kann player; therefore, looking at how he played in the above position should help you.
    – Akavall
    Dec 16, 2014 at 1:44
  • The traditional variation rarely appears unless both opponents are very comfortable with it. Black trades development for whites weakened king-side castle. all white has to do is move the bishop to castle queen-side but that can pose a hard defence with blacks dark squared bishop still in play. Dec 18, 2014 at 18:59
  • 1
    Like the French exchange variation there is a set procedure to get to the desired middle-endgame position. Dec 18, 2014 at 19:04
  • If you want to play "dry" and "safe", perhaps you should consider the Berlin Wall vs the Ruy Lopez. This is an almost unique situation leading to an early endgame in which Black is very solid and has the Bishop Pair (ok, you have to study a few early alternatives for White, but these won't give your opponent any advantage in the opening vs correct play from you). It's true that White is not forced to go for the Ruy Lopez, but there are plenty of solid defences for Black after 1. e4 e5. On the other side, notwithstanding your "solid" position, without an early exchange of Queens you have absolu Feb 15, 2016 at 22:55
  • tely no guarantee to avoid a sharp tactical middlegame in any variation of the Classical Caro-Kann. Furthermore, as a Caro-Kann player you need to face other sharp alternatives by White, the Advance Variation and the Panov-Botvinnink Attack being two of them, not to mention the Two Knights Variation, and also that sharp 3. f3 thing.
    – user24344
    Oct 13, 2020 at 9:42

4 Answers 4


You are the author of a series of questions of the type "What is the most boring way to play" and whereas I am fond of positional play as well, I must say that the way the question is formulated is completely wrong. I played the Caro-Kann for years and there is simply no way to avoid an heated battle in some variations, unless you are ready to make a lot of concessions and compromise your game by getting a very passive and unpromising position. To excel at chess, you must master various types of positions. Avoiding these will stop your progress. You cannot beat regularly stronger players by using positional means only - they will master these positions as well as you do, but are also able to play dynamically. Look at Petrosian's games, he was able to attack fiercely.

  • 1
    I completely agree. Trying to answer the question does not lead to anywhere. Petrosian, just suppose you are playing this position against an opponent, who wants to play the sharpest possible, most dynamic, most tactical variation. And that opponent wants to castle on opposite wings as you. :-) I believe a better question would be: What is the appropriate style/plan to handle position XYZ? And if the answer is: "go for tactical shots", then do this, or - if you dislike that - try to avoid that type of position.
    – Jagu
    Mar 10, 2015 at 17:14

If you are not sure what to play in this position, you had probably better not play a variation leading to it. However, if you happen to reach it, the first thing to decide is which way you would prefer to castle. If you strive for the Queenside (e.g. you believe that Black's O-O gives White an attack you cannot parry), an immediate Qc7 is to be considered. Otherwise just develop your pieces; e6 is most flexible IMHO, but again it is a matter of taste.

P.S. the list of adjectives you've presented is quite contradictory.


A suggestion i would give is a standard procedure for any game with knights, Look for a strong square, i.e. Nd5. Like i commented on your question, if white chooses to castle queen-side he would weaken his position to chase with c4.

You can bet on white aggresivly attacking your under developed king-side. It might be beneficial to castle queen-side because white lacks his light-squared bishop. I could look up options for you later but that might take time. Let me know if you want me too! :D


Sigh... Niels is absolutely right. You cannot lock yourself away from sharp positions.

Let's take a look just at 1. e4 c5.

You have 2. Nf3, but then Black can go into a Najdorf, Dragon, or Scheveningen.

The Closed Sicilian relies on the same thing: whether White can get a kingside attack going before Black proves central and queenside dominance.

Even after 2. c3 Black can have a little bit of fun. Both 2... d5 and 2... Nf6 create an unbalanced game.

I've used the Caro-Kann as a side weapon before, and what turned me off is that some of the the positions are too quiet, slow, and closed.

At my rating, I simply cannot push the superior pawn structure all the way to the endgame and then win the endgame with it.

But I keep playing it, precisely for that reason.

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