Caro-Kann: Deep Dive into the Exchange Variation - Part 1 (Panov Attack)

Kumar Gaurav
Caro-Kann: Deep Dive into the Exchange Variation - Part 1 (Panov Attack)

The Caro-kann is arguably the most solid choice for black. Black comfortably completes the opening and enjoys a good middlegame as both white and black have chances to explore. This is the Second part of the Caro-kann opening series where we will discuss the Caro-kann Exchange variation in depth. In the last part of this series We covered, Caro-kann Advance Variation. If you haven't checked it, I suggest you check that out first and then start with this post.

The caro-kann starts with 1. e4 c6 and from then on there are many variations, TH move sequence for the Caro-kann exchange variation is 2. d4 d5 4. exd5. White exchanges the pawn in the center and hence the name is known as Exchange variation. Black completes the exchange and the below position appears on the board


Caro-kann exchange vairation position.

The above image also shows the number of usual moves that white plays. In total, there are 6 moves that white usually plays.

  • c4 (Panov Attack)
  • Bd3
  • Nf3
  • c3
  • Nc3
  • Bf5

We will see each move one by one.


4. c4 (The Panov attack)

White immediately attacks the black's isolated center pawn with its flank pawn. In all such scenarios(in caro-kann) where white attacks the center with its c pawn, we support the d5 pawn With knight. Hence, Black should play.

Another variation is e6 which is equally good but traditionally Nf6 is considered a better move for two reasons

1. It develops a piece off to its Natural square, controlling e4 and d5

2. Your light square bishop is still not blocked

After Nf6, White usually plays Nc3, increasing pressure on d5 or c5 taking space on the queenside, Let's see them one by one


5. Nc3

Two moves are possible as a response to 5. Nc3, 5.. e6 or 5.. Nc6. I recommend e6 for the opening of Dark square bishop immediately. One interesting move is 5.. Be6, to create a King's Indian type of structure by Fianchettoing dark square bishop.

Below is the move sequence

5. Nc3 5.. e6 6. Nf3 6.. Be7 7. cxd5 7.. Nxd5 8. Nxd5 8.. exd5 9. Bd3 9.. O-O 10. O-O 10.. Nc6

The light square bishop is ready to come out, the position is equal and by definition, since black has equalized out of the opening, the winner of the phase will be black for sure.


Position after 10.. Nc6

It's important to understand that in this line, 5. Nc3, black must at least prepare to castle as quickly as possible due to the open light square diagonal, which white can use to take initiative by giving check and building pressure on the black side. hence e6 and Be7 is important.


5. c5

White can also play c5 to take more space on the queenside. This move opens white's light square bishop for taking initiative and pressuring black. Black must prepare to counter such an initiative.

Black can play e6 or aggressive e5. Let's Check them one by one

5.. e6

It's a bit defensive approach but a solid one. 

5. c5 5.. e6 6. Nf3 6.. Be7

Black is ready to castle, now white can't take advantage of 7. Bb5+ as black will simply block with 7.. Bd7 offering exchange of bishop or also with 7.. Nc6, 8. Ne5 won't create pressure as on the next move black will simply castle. and even after losing a pawn position will be equal and black will enjoy one semiopen and one open file for its rook which is good compensation for a pawn,

Hence white should take more space on the queenside with 7. b4, the move sequence is as below

7. B4 7.. O-O 8. a3 8.. b6 9. Bb2 9.. a5 10. Bd3 10.. axb4 11. axb4 11.. Rxa1 12. Bxa1 12.. bxc5 13. bxc5 13.. Ba6


Position after 13.. Ba6

Black offers to exchange its bad light square bishop it's white's good light square bishop. The position is equal and hence again black wins the opening phase.


5.. e5

On the 5th move, Black may choose to play an aggressive e5 to strike in the center. Stockfish suggests this at depth above 35. The idea is to open the center and quickly castle. Let's see the moves.

5.. e5 6. dxe5 6.. Ng4 7. Be2 7.. Nxe5 8. Nf3 8.. Nxf3+ 9. Bxf3


Position after 9. Bxf3


Black is ready to take on c5 and after Qxd5 black will happily exchange off Queens and will quickly go for castle. So,

9... Bxc5 10. Qxd5 10... Qxd5 11. Bxd5


Position after 11. Bxd5

Again the position is equal so, we can say that black have once again won the opening battle.

This concludes our line for the Panov attack. Obviously, I encourage viewers to experiment more on this and analyze more variation.

In the Next post, We will delve into. Meanwhile, I will recommend all to check our Youtube playlist for caro-kann opening preparation

Tags :

  • best opening for black
    best opening against e4
    caro-kann exchange variation
    caro-kann defense exchange variation

About Author

Kumar Gaurav

Kumar Gaurav

A Software developer by profession and Chess player by passion. I write chess content regularly as part of my hobby and is very much invested in it. If you have any sugession for me, please contact

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Comments (3)

Jeff Lowery (


Thank you for the thoughtful article.

Jeff Lowery (


Thank you for the thoughtful article.



for you assumption that 256 would be enough to count moves I'd like you to have a look at this game: