Thursday, March 25, 2010

Caro-Kann Defense, Fantasy Variation

There has been a lot of interest of late in the Caro-Kann Fantasy Variation (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3!?), which is looking more and more like one of the more viable alternative to the mainstream Advance Variation (3.e5), Classical (3.Nd2 or 3.Nc3) and Exchange / Panov Attack (3.exd5). Though there was Nikolai Minev's pamphlet Caro-Kann, Fantasy Variation and Nigel Davies chapter in Gambiteer I (see games at Chessgames), the line otherwise seems mostly discussed in books from the Black perspective (including by Ian Rogers in SOS #3 on 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 e5!?).  It does seem a fertile territory for analysis since there is not yet a lot of theory and the lines can get very sharp (so computers can be of great assistance here).  ChessBase points out the line's popularity in the recent European Individual Championships and has published a few articles from their ChessBase Magazine. For those with subscriptions, I have also seen videos online by Bryan Smith (at, by Boris Alterman (at ICC) and by Nigel Davies for Foxy Videos.  As my interest is piqued, I figured I'd put together a little webliography.  As always, I welcome additions.
  • Fantasy Variation Analysis by Marcus Schmuecker at ChessBase Magazine Online
    Analyzes the innovative 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3!? dxe4 4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4! 6.Bc4 Nd7 7.c3! (instead of 7.O-O first).  This is probably the most important line to know since it is widely recommended for Black, including by Jovanka Houska in Play the Caro-Kann.
  • Fantasy Variation EICC from ChessBase
    A collection of games featuring the line from the recent European Individual Championships.
  • Analysis by Alfredo Cueva at ChessBase
    A reader's analysis of the line1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 dxe4 4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bc4 Nd7 7.c3 b5 8.Bd3!
  • Nepomniachtchi-Jobava by Knaak at ChessBase
    An interesting recent game from the European Ch that began with 3...Qb6 4.a4.
  • Winning Moves in the Caro-Kann, Fantasy Variation by W.T. Harvey
    A collection of puzzles from fantasy variation games might make for good tactical training.  Also available in a more interesting form at
  • Preview: Gambit Guide: Caro-Kann, Fantasy Gambit by Boris Alterman
    A good introduction to the basics of the line, especially for amateurs.  You can see the complete series online at ICC if you are a member.
  • The Fantasy variation with 3.f3, Parts One, Two and Three, by kingscrusher
    Uses three videos to discuss a particularly intricate game arising from the Caro Kann Fantasy variation with 3...e6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Be3.
  • Confusing Names by Sverre Johnsen
    Discusses one of the author's losses as Black after 3...e6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.Qd3 Qa5!?
  • Fantasy (Opening Lanes #13) by Gary Lane
    Lane is a big fan of the Blackmar-Diemer, so he is naturally interested in the line as White.
  • Gibraltar Chess Festival with annotations by Sunil Weeramantry
    You will find annotated the game Vachier-Lagrave-Zatonskih from the Gibraltar Chess Festival.  Identical content available at Chessville.
  • Morozevich - Bologan, Russian League 2004 annotated by Boris Schipkov
    Features 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 e6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bf4 Ne7 6. Qd3 b6.
  • NJKOs Lose to New York Knights by Michael Goeller
    Annotates the game Benjamin-Kacheishvili, USCL 2009 with 3...Qb6!?
  • Canning the Caro, The Milner Barry Gambit, Part One and Part Two by Tim Mcgrew
    Covers the 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3!? gambit originated by British GM Milner-Barry, which can transpose. 


katar said...

This is really brilliant bloggery with all the detailed opening surveys of late. I see you've already referenced Moro - Bologan 2004, but the ubiquitous KingsCrusher also covered it on Youtube. There is also the Foxy video, Caro-Krusher, but that's not a traditional "web" resource (although watchable online for $16 on "chesscube cinema"). Thx again, i appreciate it.

Michael Goeller said...

Thanks for the feedback and links. I think the "Caro-Krusher" Foxy vid is by Nigel Davies. I did miss the KingsCrusher vid, so thanks for the find -- maybe I'll add it. There is so much good stuff on the web these days (especially on video) that it makes it almost unnecessary for me to do any analysis myself -- I can just direct people to what's already out there!

Anonymous said...

There has since been Lawrence Trent's Winning with the Fantasy VariationChessBase DVD and Bezgodov's The Extreme Caro-Kann. So theory is definitely accumulating fast.