Okay, do I want to trade queens or not? He's really trying to avoid complications here.
At first glance, it seems like white's playing for mate and wants to keep the queens on the board. But really, after Qb6, if black doesn't play for the material in the corner, then it's actually white who has to worry about being mated. Black will castle long and is reasonably safe. So white has to play for a longer-term advantage.
So I really don't mind trading queens, but that's not the same as saying I want to do it.
The main issue now is deployment of the minor pieces. My bishop is in a nice spot, but his has a better pawn structure to work around long-term. My knight on c3 is fairly well-placed, and I think the one on g1 has a nice spot on e2, where it can either go to d4 or g3 eventually, depending on where black plays. The g8 knight probably wants to go to f5, and I'm not sure where his b8 knight wants to go.
If I allow a queen trade, I guess my options are 0-0-0 or to just take it myself with Qxa6. So which is better for me, a white rook on e3 or a black knight on a6?
I want to play 0-0-0, a3, Nge2, but the move order seems tricky. I'm not sure what order I want to play them in. If I take on a6, then I don't have to play a3 right away to avoid dealing with Nb4. Qxa6 Nxa6/0-0-0 Ne7/Nge2 Nf5 looks better for black. Or does it? I dunno, Ng3 Nxg3/fxg3 and I've got doubled pawns but the f-file is awfully pretty for long-term pressure. Maybe I'm not so scared of that knight on f5.
Well, if I'm not scared of that knight getting to f5, I kind of like it actually. Doubling on the f-file could be a nice, clear plan for white at least.
Qxa6 it is. I think I'm rambling here and I'm really not sure I've examined this position as thoroughly as I'd liked, but my brain is pretty fried from the weekend. I'm totally focused on this idea of black trying to shove his knight to f5 as fast as possible and I'm probably missing other options.
would something like 9. Ne2 have been a possible idea? In view of black's most likely breaks (c5, f6) an extra d-pawn might come in handy, albeit it looks a bit weird. Qxa6 does look like an admission that white has absolutely nothing and is just trying to equalize.
Not a lot to say here, this is a pretty automatic recapture. In blitz games I've toyed around with 9...bxa6 just for fun to try to use the open b-file, but black is just worse there. The double a-pawns combined with the lack of being able to push ...c5 spells disaster for black. Capturing with the knight on a6 is virtually forced.
I like black's position here. It's not better, but I think it's equal. Plus, black has pretty clear play and good squares for his pieces. Queenside expansion, here I come.
I've studied and played this and similar positions a ton, because I'm really committed to playing this opening against the Caro-Kann.
Unless there's some nuance to this specific position that I'm missing, I'm pretty sure a computer would say white is a bit better, and that seems reasonable because of the space and development advantage. The problem is that you have to play incredibly accurately to maintain that advantage, whereas black's plan is relatively simple.
My obvious moves are 0-0-0 and Nge2. c5 is probably incoming, but I can't stop it and it's not actually all that bad. Nb5 in response is usually pretty strong. Nge2 is more flexible.
It's pretty obvious that black's plan should be to develop the kingside pieces and expand on the queenside, but what is the best way to go about that? First I think I need to look at things from white's perspective.
What did white do last move, and what does white want in the position? Well, if I was white I'd be struggling for a plan. He has more central and kingside space, but with the queens off the board, I don't see much of a way to attack with it. I'd probably try to move the c3 knight and bolster d4 with the move c3, so that after black plays ...c5 I'd be able to recapture with a pawn and also challenge the c-file. That could be wrong, but if I was white that's what I'd do. So what was the idea behind white's last move? Obviously he wants to develop and likely castle (maybe not castle?), but why put the knight on e2 instead of f3? I'm trying to figure that out, but I bet he wants to be able to play Ng3 in the event black plays Nf5.
Now, what should black do? As I mentioned earlier, queenside expansion is the obvious idea, as is untangling the kingside. What's the best move order and piece arrangement to achieve this? Let's see. I want to play 10...c5, but right now I don't like giving his knight the b5 square. After something like 10...c5 11.Nb5, black is having some difficulties developing with the weakness of the d6 square. Plus, white can play the knight back to a3 at some point which allows c3 to strengthen the center, or white can play c4 to mix things up and get some play there. I don't like that, so I think 10...c5 might be too early. Plus, the queenside expansion can't be prevented, so there's no need to rush it too badly.
I'm intrigued by 10...Nb4. Black has to stop the fork threat and protect the pawn, say 11.Rc1, then 11...c5. If white tries 12.Nb5, then black has 12...Kd7 followed by kicking the knight back with a6 next move and black has some central pressure.
Black can also try something slower like 10...Ne7, followed by seeing how white reacts. I've seen some plans for black in other advance variation lines with a slow queenside buildup with ...b6, ...Rc8, and only then ...c5. The idea is that ...c5 isn't getting stopped, so might as well position your pieces as best you can before doing so.
After calculating a bit and doing something thinking, I'm going with 10...Ne7. If white just castles, then I'm playing 11...Nf5 and that piece looks beautiful. If white plays 11.Ng3 to defend the f5 square, then that knight isn't particularly well placed and the queenside play rolls on. And if black takes the knight with 11.Bxe7, then white has helped black develop and can play ...c5 very quickly.
Sorry for the ultra long post, just getting all my thoughts out. If y'all couldn't tell, I'm having trouble deciding on a plan. Good thing this isn't a G/30
Not a ton to say. Still think white is slightly better because of better-placed pieces and more space. Black has a clearer plan with queenside pushes, but as soon as he plays c5, b5 becomes an ugly square for him.
I outlined most of my thoughts in the prior post, but I like the knight coming to the f5 square. It puts the piece on a good square and opens the bishop's diagonal. My only reservation is that the only active plan I see for white in the position is an f3, g4 type idea, and putting the knight on f5 seems to walk right into that. But I think tactically black can hold it together after something like 12.f3 Be7 13.g4 hxg4 14.Nxh4 and the knight can retreat to g6 to protect the rook if necessary. Everything should be fine there.
I'm curious to see how this game develops. It probably seems slow to most, but I really do enjoy games like this. I think there's a lot to be learned by playing with queens off the board.
I would like to hear what black should expect from white here. I mean like the plan of manuvering my bishop bb4-ba5-bb6 with an intermediate b5 so that my set up would be a kinght on a6 -b5/c6/d5 pawn chain and a bishop on b6 and ideally get my arook facing the king on the c-file. But there are a few moves obviously to get that setup.
Depending upon what he does next I think the move order might be 12.......bb4 13.na4 b5! 14.nc5nxc515.dxc5 Bxc5 and black has smashed white's centre
or if not Na4 then what square nb1??
if not na4 but 13.a3 ba5 and we are well on our way to getting b5 bb6 setup pressuring d5 without what white expects c5 we can strengthen the pressure on the centre prior to the push.
Which leads me to believe maybe white needs a3 immediately.
So maybe I do not get my setup but I hope you can see the good plans I can see for black.
Last edited by DiggertheDog; 05-30-2012 at 08:32 PM.