Play the Caro-Kann: A Complete Chess Opening Repertoire Against 1E4 Paperback – Apr 1 2007
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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.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Top Customer Reviews
Covers most variations and the book is written in a way that it is supported by actual games.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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!
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.
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.
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.