I'm a 1750 Elo player, and 6 months ago I bought the book Grandmaster Repertoire: The Caro-Kann by Lars Schandorff, and I was disappointed.

In my opinion, the repertoire proposed in the book is too sharp and tactical:

  • Against the Classical he wants to castle on opposite sides
  • Against the Short Variation of the Advance he wants to play 5...c5
  • Against the Panov he wants to play 5...Nc6

What I would like is a book suggesting much more positional, strategic, solid, boring and quiet variations:

  • Against the Classical I want to castle on the same side as White
  • Against the Short Variation of the Advance I want to play anything but 5...c5
  • Against the Panov I want to play 5...e6

Please suggest me some books! (And don't hesitate to suggest me more than one book.)


3 Answers 3


I would suggest The Caro-Kann: Move by Move. The author, Cyrus Lakdawala, is very lucid & seems to play in the style that appeals to you. Specifically:

  • He advocates same side castling in the classical variation
  • He gives an alternative to the ...c5 break in th advance variations, namely the ...f6 break
  • He advocates ...e6 in the Panov

The move by move series goes through top level games with question and answer format. Many of the games covered were played by Karpov, so if you like his style of play, then you'll like the book. Smyslov, the endgame virtuoso, has a significant number of games too, seeing as the first few chapters cover the Smyslov variation of the classical lines.

PS. I have no affiliation with the author - I'm recommending the book because I'm a Caro-Kann player who likes the book.

  • Any other good books or videos for the Smyslov variation? I've been having problems dealing with the ..Bf5 variation because when castling kingside, I couldn't handle white's pawn storm. When castling queenside, I couldn't think of good plans to keep the game closed but to my advantage. Commented May 22, 2015 at 2:11

A quick search turned up this interesting book: "Black Defensive System For The Rest Of Your Chess Career" by Andrew Soltis. http://www.amazon.com/Black-Defensive-System-Chess-Career/sim/0875681662/2

What attracts me to this book:

  1. GM Andrew Soltis is an excellent chess writer. His other books that I've read are very accessible to all players.
  2. This book is about the Caro-Slav pawn formation. The same structure you play against 1.e4 also works against 1.d4, saving you a lot of study time.
  3. Soltis analyzes the Caro-Slav formation in his classic book "Pawn Structure Chess", but here you will find a practical guide to using it in tournament games.

As a bonus tip, you can also reach the Caro-Slav formation through the Scandinavian Defense: 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 followed by c6 and e6. It looks aggressive to many players due to the early development of the queen, but usually results in a strategic position when played properly. Few 1.e4 players dedicate much time to preparing for this defense, so it's an excellent surprise weapon. If you decide the Caro Kann is too dense with theory, understanding the pawn structure gives you this less analyzed alternative.

Good luck in your chess!

  • This book is quite outdated (1997) so some of the lines may be refuted or considered dubious by today's standards
    – sco-ish
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 4:32
  • Petrosian, if you are looking to memorize concrete variations, take note to sco-ish's comment. But I wouldn't recommend that, so I wouldn't worry about it. 1750 ELO players today don't know much more than 1750 ELO players in 1997. Any preparation works if you enjoy it.
    – ryan-cook
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 5:36
  • Soltis' "real" books are in general excellent, but he also churned out dozens of opening books for Chess Digest, like this one, that are not very high quality, especially by today's standards (e.g., omitting the most testing variations). I wouldn't have particularly high hopes for this one just because Soltis wrote it.
    – dfan
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 15:27
  • Valid point @dfan. I can't comment on the quality of his opening books, and his name doesn't guarantee a certain quality.
    – ryan-cook
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 16:11

There is also a book at Chess Stars: Opening for Black according to Karpov (2002) by Alexander Khalifman, quite old but not bad at all, to say the least. And also an "old" but interesting book The Caro-Kann in Black & White Paperback – 1994 (Karpov, Beliavsky). There are most certainly plenty of books. I don't know about the book quality of Houska's recent book on Caro-Kann at everyman's. Starting out the Caro-Kann by Joe Gallagher is quite good also. But all these books, except Khalifman's (and Schandorff's excellent one), do not propose a deep researched repertoire. The only drawback of Khalifman is its "agedness" and the lack of explanations, it gives many variations and you to have to work out the variations given to understand the points of moves, almost no explanation, but professional. You will have to make a mix of all those books to put up by yourself a convenient (for you) repertoire. Furthermore, it is not easy to play against e4 predominantly strategically or positionally. Neither is it on all other first moves, though some are more convenient for that sake. Modern chess has it all very concrete and calculating, there is no escape from concrete tactical chess. No soft positional chess only, sorry to say. Have a nice day!

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