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Play the Caro-Kann: A Complete Chess Opening Repertoire Against 1e4 [Paperback]

Jovanka Houska
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 2007 Everyman Chess
The Caro-Kann is a reliable yet at the same time dynamic answer to White’s most popular opening move, 1 e4. It has the seal of approval of numerous leading Grandmasters including Vishy Anand, Evgeny Bareev and Alexey Dreev, as well as former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, who has utilized it with great success throughout his illustrious career. One of the attractions of the Caro-Kann is that it suits a variety of different styles; it can lead to wild tactical battles as well as quiet, positional play.

In Play the Caro-Kann, Jovanka Houska presents the reader with a concise and trustworthy repertoire within the opening, providing a solution against all of White’s main possibilities. Houska examines the important tactical and strategic plans for both sides, arming the reader with enough information to begin playing the Caro-Kann with confidence in his or her own games.

*A complete repertoire against 1 e4
*Written by a Caro-Kann expert
*Ideal for improvers, and club and tournament players



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From the Back Cover

The Caro-Kann is a reliable yet at the same time dynamic answer to White’s most popular opening move, 1 e4. It has the seal of approval of numerous leading Grandmasters including Vishy Anand, Evgeny Bareev and Alexey Dreev, as well as former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, who has utilized it with great success throughout his illustrious career. One of the attractions of the Caro-Kann is that it suits a variety of different styles; it can lead to wild tactical battles as well as quiet, positional play.

Jovanka Houska is a young International Master who has taken the big step of becoming Britain’s only female chess professional. Highlights of her short career so far include winning the European Girls Junior Championship, representing the England team at numerous Chess Olympiads and qualifying for the 2006 Women’s World Championship. She is also a regular writer for both CHESS and ChessMoves.


About the Author

Jovanka Houska is Britain’s only female chess professional. Career highlights so far include winning the European Girls Junior Championship, representing the England team at numerous Chess Olympiads, and qualifying for the 2006 Women’s World Championship. She is resident in the UK.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars good book Jan. 21 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Teaches the Caro kann well, well written and sufficient illustrations.

Covers most variations and the book is written in a way that it is supported by actual games.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Outstanding Dec 20 2009
By Gordon Ritchie TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Much has been written about the Caro-Kann, long respected as a solid alternative to the Sicilian, favoured by great champions including Botvinnik and Karpov (who has published three books on the theory), and currently very popular. For the club player, however, none is better than this work by IM Jovanka Houska. It is billed as a completed chess opening repertoire against 1. e4 and, unusually, largely lives up to that billing. Her recommendations are imaginative but solid. If you are getting one book on this opening, I recommend this be your first choice.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Writer! Oct. 11 2007
By Rafael the avid reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jovanka is a superb writer. I fell in love with the Caro while reading her book. She describes the system with such detail, from the complex to the simple. This is by far one of my favorite chess books in my library of chess books (50+). I look forward to anything else she writes. Maybe something on 1.e4 - d5 would be great.
As for the book... its money well spent. She provides such analysis for the Bf5 variation. 70+ pages alone. Neil McDonalds Caro Main line provided approximatly 50 and as the title goes it was only based around the main lines. Houska Provides her reader with what seems to be all possible continuations (Of course, not all continuations but really close!!!) And when continuations are interlinked she explains the reasons behind relevent positions.
And, frankly, it makes me feel good to see that not only did she recommend these lines in this book, but she also practices them over the board!
Spectacular!!!!
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A workable repertoire against 1.e4 July 9 2007
By Jason Antonio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Houskas aim with this work is to give solid and active lines against the major white alternatives. Not all of his reccomendations will be to everyones liking. For instance he reccomends the Botvinnik-Karls Gambit against the Advanced Variation (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5!?) where Black loses a tempo, but insists that White will have to work hard to achieve a playable game. His other reccomendations (classical,pannov-attack,exchange) are more "mainstream" but will offer ways to deviate and steer the game into lesser-known channels within the variation.

Each chapter is setup very nicely with a discussion of general ideas (ie: aims at which both sides would like to accomplish and the moves that will support each of these aims and moves that might nullify them). He also will bring up any sacrifices that both sides should be aware of in certain variations. Then he will dive into theory and will take time to explain the rationale behind key moves.

Overall, the book is a fine resource on the Caro-Kann. If one is looking for a playable repertoire all in one volume, you can find it right here. But this book is equally useful for players that have certain preference on variations "within" the Caro-Kann, and are looking for original ways to reply to a line that might be causing trouble in over-the-board play.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very complete book Oct. 29 2008
By Vishwa Krishnamurthy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have been playing Caro Kann defence for a long time, and though my style of play has changed over the years, my openings haven't.

This book defies the myth that Caro Kann is only for those who play very defensively. The author shows that you can have sharp games even if you choose to play 1... c6. All major lines are discussed in detail. The fundamentals/ideas of each line are explained very well too.

Some ideas are very interesting. The ones that appealed most to me were castling short in the main line, playing an early ...Qc7 in the exchange variation and 3... c5 in the advanced variation.

The only negative that I can think of is that the author makes it feel like Black is better in almost all the lines, which is not true.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read this first Dec 22 2012
By Farley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Before you buy this book there are a couple of things you should know. It's a repertoire book, so the author made choices. If you like the choices she made, then the book MIGHT be helpful; if you don't, the book will be virtually useless. But the question is: are you prepared to judge the author's choices? In other words, do you know anything about the caro-kann? If you don't, then your best bet would be to buy "Understanding the Caro-Kann" by Keene/Mednis.etc Or another way ,which many people dissatisfied with openings books are doing, is, instead of buying these books, they simply download the wikipedia article on the opening. ( Believe me, there isn't much difference!)
If, on the other hand, you know a little bit, then you should check the table of contents to see if the author's choices appeal to you. For instance, there isn't a single word on 4....Nd7, a common line in the Caro-Kann. The author preferred 4...Bf5.
For the Advance Variation the author suggests a Gambit!! This is anathema to the style of a Caro-Kann player! He chooses this defense because of its solidity. If he were willing to play a gambit, he wouldn't be playing the Caro-Kann. Any attempt to be modernish sounds ridiculous.
So look twice before you leap.
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Houska twists Feb. 10 2008
By Jill Malter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Yes, there are some "little Houska twists" in this book. They reminded me a little of "the Twist," which was popular when I was younger (shake it up baby).

This is an excellent book on how to play the Caro-Kann (1 e4 c6) defense for Black. There are other books out there, of course. There are authors such as Joe Gallagher, Anatoly Karpov, Gary Kasparov, and others. But if you want to play the Caro-Kann, get this one. It has some great explanations of the main concepts behind the defense against each of the main White lines. And I think it has a terrific choice of lines (as long as they keep working). It is a repertoire book for Black, so you have to decide if you like these particular lines. Houska has checked her lines with a couple of chess engines such as Fritz 9, which is somewhat reassuring.

Jovanka Houska tries to show us lines where Black can play for a win, not just for a draw. And she covers the main line (2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4), the Panov (2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 c4), 2 c4, the Exchange Variation (2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 Bd3 Nc6 5 c3), the Advance Variation (2 d4 d5 3 e5), the Fantasy Variation (2 d4 d5 3 f3), the Two Knights Variation (2 Nc3 d5 3 Nf3), the King's Indian attack (2 d3), and some unusual (and even very unusual) variations.

An example of an unusual line is 1 e4 c6 2 f4 d5 3 e5 dxe4 4 Ng5 Nf6 5 Bc4 Bg4? (Houska recommends 5...e6, which is good for Black.) 6 Bxf7+ (sacrificing the Queen!) 6...Kd7 7 Qxg4+ Nxg4 8 Be6+ Kc7 9 Bxg4. I wouldn't want to have this position for Black!

The Fantasy Variation is actually very dangerous, and an example is 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 f3 dxe4 4 fxe4 e5 5 Nf3 Bg4 (Houska warns us that 5...exd4? is a horrible error) 6 Bc4 Nd7 7 O-O Ngf6 8 c3 Bd6 9 Qb3 O-O 10 Qxb7 (I think Black is okay after 10 Ng5 Bh5 11 Qxb7 as well) 10...exd4. Black should be able to hold this, but the line is very tricky, and Houska has some useful recommendations here.

I tried one of Houska's suggestions after reading this book. 1 e4 d5 (I usually play 1...e5, often leading to the Berlin Defence against the Ruy) 2 exd5 Nf6 3 c4 c6 (for the previous three decades, I'd played 3...e6, the Icelandic Gambit, here and you will soon see why.) 4 d4 cxd5 5 Nc3 (the Panov) 5...Nc6 (Houska chose the line I used to play, which is why I bought the book!) 6 Nf3 (Houska has a good chapter on how to defend against 6 Bg5 here, which I like because her lines rarely get one into an isolated Queen pawn position and even more rarely into one where Black has to play ...g6.) 6...Bg4 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 Qb3 Bxf3 9 gxf3 Nb6 (Houska stays with my old line) 10 d5 (the author has a good section on how to defend against 10 Be3, which I once got into trouble against) 10...Nd4 11 Qd1 (again, there is a good section on how to defend against 11 Bb5+, which I also got into trouble against in the past) 11 ...e5 12 dxe6 fxe6 13 Be3 Bc5 14 b4 (a defense is given against 14 Bg2, which also got me in trouble in the past) 14...O-O 15 bxc5 Nxf3 16 Ke2 Qf6 17 cxb6 Qxc3! (this is the move I should have played over thirty years ago, instead of 17...Rad8 18 Qc2 Nd4+) 18 Rc1 (the author shows how Black gets what I consider to be an advantage after 18 Bg2 or 18 Bh3.) 18...Qb2+ 19 Qc2 Qb5+! (Houska recommends 19...Nd4+ here, leading to a draw by perpetual check, but I decided to play for a win.) 20 Qc4 Qh5 21 Bh3 Ne5+ 22 Bg4 Nxg4 23 Qxe6+ Kh8 24 Rc5 Ne5+ 25 Kd2 Rad8+ 26 Kc2 Rfe8 27 Rxe5 (if 27 Qb3 Qf5+!) 27...Qe2+ 28 Kb1 Rxe6 29 Rxe6 Qb5+ 30 Ka1 Qd5! 31 White Resigns. Thank you, Jovanka!

I recommend this book.
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