The Keres Variation Versus the Caro Kann

After 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 there is an alternative for white, 5 Ng3, as NM Michael Lucas, from Alabama, played against me in a game ultimately drawn in a time scramble. “Wasn’t that exciting?” Mike asked immediately after I agreed to his draw offer. “No” I replied. “It was HARROWING!” He laughed uproariously as we signed score sheets. IM Boris Kogan said Mike was one of the most inventive players he had known. Lucas did not like to study Chess; only play. I still recall going over one of his Closed Sicilian games in which he played g3-g4, and then on the following move, g4-g5. I said something like, “Wow.” He looked up and grinned. “It thwarts everything,” he said. “Thwarts” has stuck in my memory. As I recall my response, after Mike retreated his knight, was 5…g6. Then it was that or 5…h5, but I had experimented with moves like 5…Qc7, and 5…Na6, among others, but never thought to play 5…c5, which is the move Komodo gives as best at the CBDB.

The variation 1 e4 c6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Nf3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nf6 5 Qe2 has become popular. Anyone who has read my blogs know of my predilection for the move Qe2 in the opening, especially against the French. I have yet to play 5 Qe2 versus the Caro Kann because I do not play 2 Nc3. I favor 3 f3, the Caro Kann Krusher, after the usual 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5. Maybe the white player hopes for 1 e4 c6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Nf3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nf6 5 Qe2 Nbd7:

White to move

There is a reason one should ALWAYS EXAMINE ALL CHECKS!!!

This was actually played in a game between Paul Keres and Edward Arlamowski at the Przepiorka Memorial in Poland two months and three days before I was born in 1950. Since the first game played with Qe2 iin this variation was played by Paule Keres, I declare it to be the “Keres variation.”

Here are a couple of recent games with the Keres variation from Gibralta:

Harshit Raja vs

Chanda Sandipan

Rd 4

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nxe4 6. Qxe4 Qa5 7. Qf4 Qf5 8. Qe3 Qxc2 9. Bd3 Qa4 10. b3 (10. O-O f6 11. b3 Qa5 12. Bb2 Na6 13. Rfe1 Nc7 14. b4 Qh5 15. b5 Nxb5 16. Nd4 Nxd4 17. Bxd4 1/2-1/2 Giri v Riazantsev, Palma De Mallorca GP 2017) Qa5 11. Bb2 Na6 12. O-O f6 13. Bc4 Bd7 14. Rac1 Nc7 15. Bc3 Qh5 16. Nd4 e5 17. f4 O-O-O 18. fxe5 Qxe5 19. Qxe5 fxe5 20. Nf3 Be6 21. Bxe5 Bxc4 22. Rxc4 Ne6 23. Re1 Bc5+ 24. d4 Bb6 25. Re4 Rhe8 26. Rg4 Rd5 27. Kf1 g5 28. Rg3 h5 29. h3 Rf8 30. Ke2 Rf5 31. Kd3 Rfxe5 32. Nxe5 Bxd4 33. Rxd4 Rxd4+ 34. Kc3 Rd5 35. Re3 Nf4 36. g4 Ra5 37. Rf3 Rxe5 38. Kd4 0-1

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

vs Richard Rapport

Rd 10

1. e4 c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Na6 6. d4 Qd5 (6…Bf5 7. Ng3 Bg6 8. c3 e6 9. h4 h6 10. Ne5 Bh7 11. Nxc6 Qb6 12. Ne5 Nc7 13. a4 a6 14. a5 Qd6 15. Qd1 Nd7 16. Qa4 Nd5 17. Be2 f6 18. Bh5+ g6 19. Nxg6 Bxg6 20. Bxg6+ Ke7 21. O-O f5 22. Bxf5 1-0 Khruschiov v Karacsony, Miercurea Ciuc op 1998) 7. Nc3 Qa5 8. Qe5 Qxe5+ 9. dxe5 Nb4 10. Bd3 Nxd3+ 11. cxd3 Nd7 12. Be3 Nb6 13. Ke2 Be6 14. Nd4 Bd5 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. e6 g6 17. exf7+ Kxf7 18. Nf3 Bg7 19. Ng5+ Ke8 20. Rab1 a5 21. Ne4 b6 22. Rhc1 Kd7 23. Nc3 a4 24. Nxd5 cxd5 25. d4 Rhc8 26. Kd3 e6 27. Rxc8 Rxc8 28. Rc1 Rxc1 29. Bxc1 Kc6 30. b3 axb3 1/2-1/2

The next game found in the Big database is from 1968:

Istvan Csom

vs German L Khodos

HUN-URS 1968

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nxe4 6. Qxe4 Nd7 7. Bc4 Nf6
8. Ne5 e6 9. Qe2 Be7 10. c3 c5 11. Bb5+ Bd7 12. Nxd7 Nxd7 13. O-O a6 14. Bxd7+
Qxd7 15. Rd1 Qb5 16. Qxb5+ axb5 17. d4 c4 18. Be3 Kd7 19. a3 Kc6 20. Kf1 Kd5
21. Bf4 g5 22. Be5 f6 23. Bg3 h5 24. h3 Rag8 25. Re1 h4 26. Bh2 g4 27. Re3 g3
28. Bg1 Bd6 29. Rae1 Re8 30. Rf3 f5 31. fxg3 hxg3 32. Be3 Rh4 33. Bg5 Re4 34.
Rxe4 Kxe4 35. Re3+ Kd5 36. Rf3 Rg8 37. Bf4 Bxf4 38. Rxf4 b4 39. axb4 Ra8 40.
Ke2 Ra2 41. Kf3 Rxb2 42. Kxg3 Rc2 43. Rf3 e5 44. dxe5 Kxe5 45. Re3+ Kf6 46. Kf3
Kg5 47. g4 fxg4+ 48. hxg4 Kf6 49. Kf4 Rf2+ 50. Rf3 Re2 51. Rh3 Kg6 52. Re3 Rf2+
53. Ke5 Rd2 54. Re4 b5 55. Kf4 Rc2 56. Re6+ Kf7 57. Re5 Rxc3 58. Rxb5 Rc1 59.
Ke3 Ke6 60. Rc5 Rc3+ 61. Kd4 Rg3 62. Kxc4 Rxg4+ 63. Kb5 Kd6 64. Rc1 Rg8 65. Ka6
1-0

Oleg M Romanishin,

v Ratmir D Kholmov,

Vilnius zonal 1975

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nxe4 6. Qxe4 Qd5 7. Qe3 Bf5
8. c4 Qe4 9. d3 Qxe3+ 10. fxe3 Nd7 11. Be2 e5 12. e4 Bb4+ 13. Kf2 Be6 14. Be3
f6 15. d4 exd4 16. Nxd4 Bf7 17. Rhd1 g6 18. Nf3 Bc5 19. Bxc5 Nxc5 20. e5 O-O
21. exf6 Ne4+ 22. Kg1 Nxf6 23. Ng5 Rae8 24. Re1 Re5 25. Nxf7 Kxf7 26. Bf3 Rxe1+
27. Rxe1 Rd8 28. Re3 g5 29. h3 h5 30. Rb3 Rd7 31. g4 hxg4 32. hxg4 c5 33. Bxb7
Rd4 34. Bf3 Rxc4 35. Kf1 Ke6 36. Ra3 Rf4 37. Ke2 Nxg4 38. Bxg4+ Rxg4 39. b3
Re4+ 40. Kf3 Rf4+ 41. Kg3 Rf7 42. Ra6+ Kd5 43. Rg6 Rf1 44. Ra6 Rf7 1/2-1/2

Melanie Ohme

v Judith Fuchs

GER-ch U16 Girls 2005

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qe2 Nxe4 6. Qxe4 Nd7 7. Bc4 Nf6
8. Qe2 Bf5 9. O-O e6 10. d4 Bd6 11. Bg5 O-O 12. c3 Be7 13. Ne5 Qc7 14. f4 h6
15. Bxf6 gxf6 16. Ng4 Kh7 17. Bd3 Bg6 18. f5 exf5 19. Bxf5 Kg7 20. Rf3 Rae8 21.
Qd2 Rh8 22. Raf1 Qd6 23. Rg3 h5 24. Ne3 Kh7 25. Qc2 Reg8 26. Qb3 Rg7 27. Qxb7
Rb8 28. Qxa7 Rxb2 29. Nc4 1-0

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