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flooper 43 ( +1 | -1 )
Defence suggestions I'm enjoying playing the Colle System at the moment...it seems easy to learn and has some clear attacking ideas. However, I'm not quite as happy with my defence..

Against 1.e4 I'm playing Caro-Kann...learning the main lines is fairly easy but I'm coming unstuck when I try to counter-attack

Against 1.d4 I'm aiming for Cambridge Springs Variation as the pawn structure looks similar to the Colle.

Any suggestions appreciated !

jstack 77 ( +1 | -1 )
opening preparation I like your idea of playing easy to learn openings with similar pawn structure. This allows you to keep your opening preparation to a minunum. You can give more attention to middlegame and ending studies. And from your comment, "Against 1.e4 I'm playing Caro-Kann...learning the main lines is fairly easy but I'm coming unstuck when I try to counter-attack" it sounds like to me you know how to play the opening phase of the game quite well. Its just in the middlegame you don't always come up with the right plan. Am I right? Maybe it would be useful to post one of your caro kann games here. I would love to analyze a game. It has been a while since someone has posted a game.
jstack 77 ( +1 | -1 )
opening preparation I like your idea of playing easy to learn openings with similar pawn structure. This allows you to keep your opening preparation to a minunum. You can give more attention to middlegame and ending studies. And from your comment, "Against 1.e4 I'm playing Caro-Kann...learning the main lines is fairly easy but I'm coming unstuck when I try to counter-attack" it sounds like to me you know how to play the opening phase of the game quite well. Its just in the middlegame you don't always come up with the right plan. Am I right? Maybe it would be useful to post one of your caro kann games here. I would love to analyze a game. It has been a while since someone has posted a game.
flooper 31 ( +1 | -1 )
OK...I'll admit it... ...most of my defeats are due to gigantic blunders !! I'll try to find a Caro-Kann game that isnt a complete embarrasment and post it. It's very true that when an opponent makes an unexpected move I feel there must be a weakness...it's just spotting it and replying correctly that's tricky.
pandemona 196 ( +1 | -1 )
What's the weakness? Hi flooper,

In my own play, I've also had a lot of trouble with the "spot the weakness" game. When an opponent deviates from the lines I expect, I can't always see why the play is weak (or even IF it's weak).

My solution was to think about plans. Every move is played for a reason. A good move *demands* a good move in reply, because it creates pressures and possibilities that, if not answered, can be brought into force!

The simplest of course is "I will take your piece if you don't defend it." If they don't defend (in the broad sense of the word, as "perform some action that disinclines you to capture), you capture it. But of course you can threaten "In five moves I will have unstoppable pressure against your castled king". And if they need five moves to counter that pressure, and waste one playing a6, then you calmly proceed to bring the pressure to bear.

Basically, if you know the reason behind why you play *every single move*, then any weakness in the opponent's move is glaringly obvious! (Of course you have to see the reasons for their moves, too: if they're opening up new possibilities you hadn't considered with their move, the situation has to be re-evaluated).

The other thing I do now is to look at pawn structure.

Linked pawns are good. Isolated pawns are often bad. Double pawns are nearly always bad. Backward pawns that cannot advance are nearly always bad. Every time your opponent moves a pawn, or you capture one, he changes his pawn structure. Look for weaknesses he creates, or weaknesses you can create through capture, sacrifice, pressure or exchange. Play in such a way as to lock those weaknesses in place, then yumm them up. :)

That's what works for me, anyway. Hopefully lots more stronger players than me will speak up... :)

~ Stephen / pandemona
bonsai 40 ( +1 | -1 )
White can quite possibly get away with weaker moves in the Caro-Kann without there being any way of punishing him for it (while in super-sharp openings that is often not the case). Also could it be that you try to take the initiative too early (the Caro Kann is after all mostly not an extremely aggressive counter-attacking system)? But it's difficult to say anything without seeing any examples.
oldhamer 15 ( +1 | -1 )
If you want an attacking line of the caro (the greatest opening ever)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 de 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ gf

A nice line with good attacking opportunities. :-)

cryptos 32 ( +1 | -1 )
oldhamer. I think most people these days would play 4...Bf5, forcing 5.Ng3 Bg6, or 4...Nd7, preparing to develop Nf6 next move. I agree that taking Nf6 is good if black takes with the g-pawn, but what's wrong with 5 ...ef ?! Personally, I find the Caro difficult to play against (see the thread on this site)
oldhamer 51 ( +1 | -1 )
"I think most people these days would play 4...Bf5, forcing 5.Ng3 Bg6, or 4...Nd7, preparing to develop Nf6 next move. I agree that taking Nf6 is good if black takes with the g-pawn, but what's wrong with 5 ...ef ?! Personally, I find the Caro difficult to play against (see the thread on this site)"

Aye, most people would play Bf5 or Nd7, but so what? Nf6 is a perfectly good alternative, and I was giving the guy an aggressive line.

There's nothing wrong with ef, except it could lead to a bad ending.

cryptos 13 ( +1 | -1 )
oldhamer I was just trying to be realistic. No point learning how to play an attack if you're only going to meet it once in a blue moon.
anaxagoras 167 ( +1 | -1 )
Here's a caro kann game of mine that you might find helpful: board #1754523

I also lost because I counter-attacked too early instead of consolidating my kingside. In retrospect the mistake is obvious of course! ;-)

Correct was 23 ...h5! and Black actually has a plus according to chessbase, though the position looks equal. Instead I played 23 ...a5? and lost in a few more moves, though it *was* correct for a5 to be part of Black's plans (plans seem to be an important theme in this thread).
23 ...h5!
24 Kc2 a5 (the move begs to be played, just not on move 23)
25 Kb3 axb3
26 axb3 Nac3 =

This may sound sinful, but in order to be successful with the caro kann you ought to wait for your opponent to make a mistake. Only then do you strike. Otherwise you should head for a draw; it's almost that simple. But enough of the hand wringing, we mere mortals make enough mistakes for you to win plenty on the Black side. Heck, even GM's make enough mistakes for others to win on the Black side. The caro kann has served me well, but that's because of my temperment. I am (usually) a patient player who likes long, drawn out struggles over a few petty squares. I like to close the game up and play a game of patience and gridlock-induced frustration. So if you like to counter-attack from move 1 with Black then this definately is not the openning for you. Interestingly enough, I have been playing a lot of French games recently because I haven't found the early development of the QB in the caro kann to be all that useful, and the lack of central presence in a lot of CK openings can be intimidating.
anaxagoras 40 ( +1 | -1 )
And here's a rather bureaucratic example where Black won. Notice the fight over d4. The White Knight blockades and Black seeks to remove him. Once White capitulates by blundering on the 30th move, the rest is clockwork.
1. e4 c6
2. d4 d5
3. e5 Bf5
4. h4 h5
5. Nf3 e6
6. Bd3 Bxd3
7. Qxd3 Qa5+
8. Nb-d2 Qa6
9. Qxa6 Nxa6
10. c3 c5
11. O-O Nh6
12. dxc5 Nxc5
13. Nb3 Nf5
14. Bg5 Ne4
15. Nb-d4 Nxd4
16. Nxd4 a6
17. f3 Nxg5
18. hxg5 Bc5
19. Rf-d1 Rc8
20. Kh2 Ba7
21. f4 g6
22. Kg3 Kd7
23. Kf3 Rc4
24. Rd2 Rh-c8
25. Ra-d1 b5
26. g4 hxg4+
27. Kxg4 b4
28. cxb4 Rxb4
29. b3 Rc3
30. Nf3 Be3
31. Rd2-d3 Rxf4+
32. Kg3 Rxd3
33. Rxd3 Re4
flooper 46 ( +1 | -1 )
Thanks for the tips... ....I was originally thinking about an alternative to the Caro-Kann but when I reviewed some of my past games I realised I'm doing quite well with it. I think I may stick with it a little longer !!I'm also reading Joe Gallagher's "Starting Out: The Caro-Kann".

Anyway, thanks again for your advice. I may post a current game once I've finished....it's a good example of me coming unstuck in the middlegame trying to attack.

Regards,

Flooper