Chess Opening Theory/1. e4/1...c6

Caro-Kann Defence
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN)
Moves: 1. e4 c6
ECO code: B10-B19
Parent: King's Pawn Opening

Caro-Kann DefenceEdit

The Caro-Kann is considered solid and safe with a better pawn structure (often leading to good endgames). However, White has many possible responses and may develop faster than Black. Out of the Semi-Open games, the opening is thought to be less dynamic than the Sicilian and the French.

In the traditional Open Game (1. e4 e5), many of the big threats that Black may face target the weak f7-square with White's bishop positioned on c4. And, Black often can consider this threat resolved if Black succeeds in pushing their queen pawn to d5. Thus, the idea of the Caro-Kann (as well as the French Defence) is to support a pushed queen pawn on d5 at the early stage in the opening. The Caro-Kann achieves this with 1...c6 (while the French does so via 1...e6).

In choosing the Caro-Kann, Black gives up the centre in exchange for easier development. Black often aims to let White's pawns overextend, or develop a poor structure, and take advantage in the endgame.

In contrast to the French, the queen's bishop is not blocked with a pawn on e6, but the c6-square is no longer available for the knight. Additionally, since White aims for a strong classical centre with two pawns on d4 and e4, here Black will try to attack that centre (specifically the d4-square) by pushing their c-file pawn to c5 (in both the Caro-Kann and the French). However, in contrast to the French, in the Caro-Kann Black has already moved their c-file pawn once to c6. Thus, Black is one tempo behind compared with the French since another push from c6 to c5 is required. (The French pushes to c5 in a single move.)

White's natural move is now 2. d4 as nothing prevents them from building a strong center. Bobby Fischer sometimes played 2. Nf3 followed by 3. Nc3.


Approximate chances
White win ??%, Draw ??%, Black win ??%.
Estimated next move popularity
d4 72%, Nf3 8%, Nc3 8%, c4 5%, d3 3%, f4 1%, Bc4 1%, other moves less than 0.5%.
move average (big) Chess Tempo (all) Lichess (masters) Lichess (database)
2. d4 72.0% 79.5 76.0 76.8 81.0 46.8
2. Nf3 8.4 3.9 4.9 3.5 3.6 26.0
2. Nc3 8.2 7.7 8.2 8.4 7.4 9.2
2. c4 5.2 4.3 6.8 7.6 4.5 2.6
2. d3 3.0 3.3 2.9 2.8 2.8 3.1
2. f4 1.0 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 4.2
2. Bc4 1.0 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 4.7
2. Ne2 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.5 2.5
2. e5 0.2 0.7 0.7 0.5 0.5 0.3
2. c3 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6
2. b3 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.3
everything else 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 1.4

Theory tableEdit

1. e4 c6

  2 3 4 Evaluation
Main line d4
Two Knights Attack Nf3
Nc3 =
Two Knights Attack Nc3
Nf3 =
Accelerated Panov Attack c4
Breyer Variation d3
Nd2 =
Hillbilly Attack Bc4
Euwe Attack b3
Labahn Attack b4
Spike variation g4


  • Nunn's Chess Openings. 1999. John Nunn (Editor), Graham Burgess, John Emms, Joe Gallagher. ISBN 1-8574-4221-0.

External linksEdit

For explanation of theory tables, see theory table and for notation, see algebraic notation.

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