Friday, February 23, 2007

Caro-Kann Defense, Exchange Variation

In the past two years*, I have played many games as White using the exchange variation versus the Caro-Kann Defense. After the opening moves 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3, there are three subvariations for Black: (a) 4...Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 Bg4 7.Qb3 Qc8 (or 7...Qd7); (b) 4...Nc6 5.c3 Qc7; (c) lines featuring ...g6.

(a) At the Somerset NJ quads in May 1996, candidate master Steve Anderson played 7...Qc8 against me. That game continued 8.Nd2 e6 9.Ngf3 Be7 10.O-O Bh5 11.Ne5 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 O-O 13.Rae1 Nd7 14.Bg3 Nb6?! 15.f4 Bg6

16.f5! Bh5 17.fxe6 fxe6 18.Qc2 Rxf1+ 19.Rxf1 h6 20.Bg6 Bxg6 21.Qxg6 Na4 22.Be5 Bf8 23.Rf7, 1-0.

National master Dylan McClain played more solidly at the Manhattan Chess Club in August 1996 as follows: 8.Nd2 e6 9.Ngf3 Be7 10.O-O O-O 11.Ne5 Bh5 12.Qc2 Bg6 13.Nxg6 hxg6 14.Nf3 Qd7 15.Rae1 Rac8 16.Ne5 Nxe5 17.Bxe5 Ng4 18.Bg3 Bd6 19.Bxd6 Qxd6 20.f4 f5 21.Qe2 Kf7 22.h3 Nf6 23.Qe5 Rfd8 24.g4 a6 25.Re2 Qxe5 26.fxe5 Ng8 27.h4 Nh6

28.h5!? Nxg4 29.hxg6+ Ke7 (29...Kxg6!?) 30.Rf4 Rh8 31.Rg2 Ne3 32.Rg3 Nc4 33.Bxc4 Rxc4 34.Rf2 Rcc8 35.Rh2 Rxh2 36.Kxh2 Rh8+ 37.Rh3 Rxh3+ 38.Kxh3 Kd7 39.a4 Kc7 40.Kg3 Kc6 41.b4 b5 42.a5, draw.

Several of my opponents tried 7...Qd7 instead. At the Somerset NJ quads in May 1995, candidate master Matt Boxer lost after 8.Nd2 e6 9.Ngf3 Bd6 10.Ne5 Qc7 11.O-O O-O 12.h3 Bh5 13.Rae1 (13.g4!?) Bxe5 14.Bxe5 Nxe5 15.Rxe5 Bg6 16.Bxg6 hxg6 17.Rfe1 b5 18.Nf3 Rab8 19.a3 a5 20.Ng5 Qc4 21.Qc2 b4 22.axb4 axb4 23.R5e3 Rfc8

24.Nxe6!? fxe6 25.Qxg6 Qc7 26.Rxe6 Qf7 27.Qxf7+ Kxf7 28.Re7+ Kg6 29.R1e3 b3 30.Rg3+ Kh7 31.Rgxg7+ Kh8 32.Rb7 Ne4 33.Rh7+ Kg8 34.Rhg7+ Kh8 35.Rh7+ Kg8 36.Rbg7+ Kf8 37.Rf7+ Kg8 38.Rfg7+ Kf8 39.Rc7 Rxc7 40.Rh8+ Ke7 41.Rxb8 Nd2 42.h4 Kf6 43.g4 Re7 44.Rb6+ Kg7 45.h5 Re4 46.f3 Re2 47.g5 Nxf3+ 48.Kf1 Rxb2 49.Rb7+ Kg8 50.Rb8+ Kg7 51.Rb7+ Kg8 52.Rb8+ Kg7 53.h6+ Kf7 54.Rb7+ Kf8 55.g6 Rh2 56.g7+ Kg8 57.Rb8+, 1-0. It is not clear that my piece sacrifice was sound. Certainly Black missed drawing chances.

At the Marshall Chess Club in November 1995, candidate master Noah Siegel fell victim to a strong kingside attack as follows: 8.Nd2 e6 9.Ngf3 Bxf3 10.Nxf3 Bd6 11.Bxd6 Qxd6 12.O-O O-O 13.Rae1 Rfc8 14.Qd1 a6 15.Ne5 b5 16.a3 Na5 17.g4 Nc4 18.Qc2 g6 19.f4 Qb6 20.g5 Nh5 21.Qf2 Ra7 22.Be2 Ng7 23.Bg4 Nxe5 24.fxe5 Nf5

25.Bxf5! gxf5 26.Re3 Qd8 27.Rh3 Qf8 28.Rh6 Qg7 29.Qh4 Kh8 30.Rf3 Rg8 31.Rg3 b4 32.axb4 a5 33.Kf2 axb4 34.Rh3 f6 35.exf6 Qf7 36.cxb4 Rg6 37.Qf4 Rxh6 38.Rxh6 Qb7 39.Qe5 Kg8 40.Qxe6+ Qf7 41.Qc8+ Qf8 42.Qc5 Qxc5 43.bxc5 Rb7 44.Ke3 Rxb2 45.Kf4 Rd2 46.Ke5 f4 47.Kxf4 Rxd4+ 48.Ke5 Rd2 49.Ke6 d4 50.f7+ Kg7 51.Rxh7+ Kxh7 52.f8=Q Re2+ 53.Kd5, 1-0 (forfeit).

Two months later at the Hamilton NJ quads,candidate master Jason Cohen was defeated after 8.Nd2 e6 9.Ngf3 Bd6 10.Ne5 Bxe5

11.dxe5 (11.Bxe5!?) Nh5 12.Be3 a6 13.h3 Bf5 14.Bxf5 exf5 15.Nf3 O-O 16.O-O-O Rfd8 17.Bb6 Re8 18.Rxd5 Qe6 19.g3 a5 20.Rhd1 a4 21.Qb5 Ne7 22.Rd8 Raxd8 23.Rxd8 Rxd8 24.Bxd8 Nc6 25.Bc7 Qc8 26.Bd6 g6 27.Qxa4 Ng7 28.Kb1 Ne6 29.Qh4 h5 30.Ng5 Nxg5 31.Qxg5 Qe6 32.Qe3 Qd5 33.b3 Qh1+ 34.Kb2 Nd8 35.h4 Ne6 36.Be7 Kh7 37.a4 f4 38.gxf4 Qh2 39.Qg3 Qh1 40.b4 Qe4 41.Qe3 Qc4 42.Bg5 Nxg5 43.fxg5 Qxh4 44.Qf3 Kg8 45.Qxb7 Qxf2+ 46.Kb3 h4 47.a5 h3? 48.Qc8+ Kg7 49.Qxh3 Qf4 50.e6 Qxg5 51.exf7 Qd5+ 52.Kb2 Qd2+ 53.Kb3 Qd5+ 54.Ka3 Kxf7 55.c4 Qd1 56.Qh7+ Kf6 57.Qh8+ Kf5 58.Qc3 Qd6 59.Qf3+ Ke6 60.Qd5+ Qxd5 61.cxd5+ Kxd5 62.a6 Kc6 63.b5+ Kb6 64.Kb3 g5 65.Kc3 g4 66.Kd3 g3 67.Ke2 Kc7 68.Kf3 Kb6 69.Kxg3 Kc7 70.Kf4 Kb6 71.Ke5 Kc7 72.Kd5 Kb6 73.Kd6 Ka7 74.Kc6 Kb8 75.b6 Ka8 76.b7+ Kb8 77.Kd7 Ka7 78.Kc7, 1-0.

(b) In the 5...Qc7 line, candidate master Louis Leiggi played well at the Hamilton NJ quads in March 1995 before blundering toward the end of the first time control. That game proceeded 6.Ne2 Bg4 7.f3 Bh5 8.Na3 a6 9.Nc2 e6 10.Bf4 Bd6 11.Bxd6 Qxd6 12.O-O Nge7 13.Qd2 Bg6 14.Rae1 O-O 15.Ng3 b5 16.a3 (16.f4!?) Na5 17.f4 Nc4 18.Bxc4 bxc4 19.Ne3 Bd3 20.Rf2 Qd7 21.b4 a5 22.Ng4 Qa4 23.bxa5 Qxa3 24.Ne5 Bg6 25.h4 Rfb8 26.h5 Bd3 27.Nxd3 cxd3 28.f5 Nxf5 29.Nxf5 exf5 30.Qxd3 g6 31.h6 Rxa5

32.Rxf5! Qf8 33.Qg3 Rba8 34.Qg5 Ra1 35.Rff1 R1a3? 36.Qxd5 Rxc3?? 37.Rxf7!, 1-0.

In August 1995, again at the Hamilton NJ quads, candidate master Jason Cohen had the misfortune of losing the same endgame as in the 7...Qd7 variation. This game went as follows: 6.Ne2 Nf6?!

7.Bf4 e5 8.dxe5 Nxe5 9.Bb5+ Bd7 10.Bxd7+ Nfxd7 11.Qxd5 Bd6 12.O-O O-O 13.Rd1 Bc5 14.Nd2 Qc6 15.Ne4 Bb6 16.Qxc6 bxc6 17.Rd6 f5 18.N4g3 Bc5 19.Rd2 h6 20.h4 Rae8 21.Rad1 Nf6 22.Bxe5 Rxe5 23.Nf4 Rfe8 24.Nd3 f4 25.Nxe5 Rxe5 26.Re2 Bxf2+ 27.Rxf2 fxg3 28.Rf3 Re2 29.Rxg3 Rxb2 30.Rd8+ Kf7 31.Rc8 Rxa2 32.Rxc6 Nd5 33.c4 Nf4 34.Rc7+ Kf6 35.Rgxg7 Ne6 36.Rxa7 Rc2 37.Rgf7+ Ke5 38.Rfe7 Kf6 39.Rxe6+ Kxe6 40.Kh2 Rxc4 41.Ra6+ Kf5 42.Kh3 Rc3+ 43.g3 h5 44.Rh6 Ra3 45.Rxh5+ Kg6 46.Rb5 Rc3 47.h5+ Kh6 48.Kh4 Rc4+ 49.g4 Ra4 50.Rb6+ Kg7 51.h3+ Kh7 52.Kh5 Ra5+ 53.g5 Rc5 54.Rb7+ Kg8 55.Re7 Ra5 56.Kg6 Ra6+ 57.Kf5 Ra1 58.Kf6 Rf1+ 59.Kg6 Rf8 60.Rd7 Ra8 61.Rd6 Rf8 62.Kh5 Rf5 63.Kg4 Rf8 64.g6 Ra8 65.Kf5 Rf8+ 66.Ke6 Re8+ 67.Kf6 Ra8 68.Ke7 Ra7+ 69.Rd7 Ra8 70.Rd8+ Rxd8 71.Kxd8 Kf8 72.Kd7 Kg8 73.Ke7 Kh8 74.g7+ Kg8 75.Kf6 Kh7 76.Kf7, 1-0.

At the Manhattan Chess Club in January 1996, my opponent national master Vladimir Polyakin blundered on move 24 allowing a forced mate which I missed. Instead I sacrificed the exchange and then offered my queen! Here are the moves to that game: 6.Ne2 Bg4 7.f3 Bh5 8.Na3 e6 9.Bf4 Qd7 10.Nc2 Nf6 11.O-O Bd6 12.Bxd6 Qxd6 13.Qd2 Bg6 14.Rae1 O-O 15.Ng3 Rac8 16.f4 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 b5 18.f5 b4 19.fxe6 fxe6 20.Nxb4 Nxb4 21.cxb4 Qxb4 22.Rxe6 Qxb2 23.Nf5 Rc1 24.Re7 Ne4?

25.Rxe4!? (25.Rxg7+ Kh8 26.Rxh7+! Kxh7 27.Qh3+ wins) dxe4? (25...g6!) 26.Qc4+! Kh8 27.Qxc1 Qxa2 28.Qc5 Re8 29.Nd6 Rb8 30.Nc8 h6 31.Rf8+, 1-0.

(c) Following 4.Bd3, my game against national master Dylan McClain at the Bayonne NJ quads in June 1995 continued 4...Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Nbd2 O-O 9.O-O Nh5 10.Be3 f5 11.Nb3 b6 12.Re1 Kh8 13.Bb5 Bd7 14.Bxc6 Bxc6 15.Bg5 Nf6 16.Ne5 Be8 17.f3 h6 18.Bh4 Rc8 19.Nc1 Kh7 20.Ncd3 g5 21.Bf2 Qd6 22.Qc2 Kg8 23.Re2 Rc7 24.Rae1 e6 25.h4 Re7 26.Qd2 f4 27.g3 Nh5 28.g4 Nf6 29.Kg2 Nd7 30.Rh1 Nxe5 31.Nxe5 Bxe5 32.Rxe5 Rg7 33.hxg5 hxg5 34.Rh6 Bd7 35.Qd3 Qe7 36.Qf1 Rf6 37.Qh1 Rxh6 38.Qxh6 Kf7

39.c4!? dxc4 40.d5 Qf6 41.dxe6+ Bxe6 42.Qh5+ Qg6 43.Rxg5 Qxh5 44.Rxh5 Kg6 45.Re5 Bc8 46.Re4 Kg5 47.Rxc4 Be6 48.Ra4 Rd7 49.b3 Rd2 50.Rxa7 Bd5 51.Rh7 Rd3 52.Rh3 b5 53.Be1 Bb7 54.Rh5+ Kg6 55.Rh3 Bd5 56.Kf2 Bb7 57.Ba5 Bd5 58.Bc7 Rd2+ 59.Ke1 Rxa2 60.Bxf4 Bxb3 61.Rh6+ Kf7 62.Bd2 Bd5 63.g5 Rc2 64.Rb6 Bc6 65.f4 Kg6 66.Rb8 Rc4 67.Rf8 Kg7 68.Rb8 Kg6 69.Ke2 Re4+ 70.Kd3 Rc4 71.Rf8 Be4+ 72.Ke3 Bc2 73.Rf6+ Kg7 74.Rb6 Rc5 75.Bb4 Rd5 76.Bc3+ Kh7 77.Bd4 Bf5 78.Rh6+ Kg8 79.g6 Bxg6 80.Rxg6+ Kf7 81.Rg5 Ke6 82.Rxd5 Kxd5 83.f5 b4 84.f6 Ke6 85.Kf4 Kf7 86.Kf5, 1-0.

Finally, at the Manhattan Chess Club in August 1996, I bested candidate master Paul Song by countering his queenside minority attack with a kingside mating attack as follows: 4...g6 5.Nf3 Nh6 6.c3 Bg7 7.O-O O-O 8.Re1 Nf5 9.Bf4 Nc6 10.h3 Nd6 11.Nbd2 Bf5 12.Bxf5 Nxf5 13.Ne5 Nxe5 14.Bxe5 Bxe5 15.Rxe5 e6 16.Qb3 Nd6 17.Rae1 b5 18.R5e2 Rb8 19.Nf3 Nc4 20.Ne5 Nxe5 21.Rxe5 Qc7 22.a3 a5 23.h4 b4 24.cxb4 axb4 25.h5 bxa3 26.Qxa3 Qc4 27.Qe3 Rxb2 28.Qf4 Qc2 29.Qf6 Qd2

30.R5e3! Rfb8 31.h6 Kf8 32.Qg7+ Ke8 33.Rxe6+ fxe6 34.Rxe6+ Kd8 35.Qe7+ Kc8 36.Rc6#.

*{This article originally appeared in the November-December 1996 issue of Atlantic Chess News}