Why Beginners Should NOT Play This Opening

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🔹 An Aggressive Opening For Black Against e4 | Traps to win FAST –
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In this video lesson, GM Igor Smirnov shares his observations on why most of the chess players (especially beginners and intermediates) are not able make further progress and how they are just one skill away from becoming an advanced-level player (reaching 1800 or 2000 ELO).

One of the main reasons is that they play chess openings that don’t give them any attacking opportunities. In other words, their choice of opening is very passive.

For example, most chess players fear early queen attacks or the Fried Liver Attack after White plays 1.e4. Hence, they play an opening like Caro-Kann Defense which can help them defend against such early attacks, but do not give them any attacking opportunities especially against stronger opponents.

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► Chapters

00:00 1 Key Skill Most Chess Players Don’t Know
00:20 How to counter 1.e4 as Black?
01:36 The problem with the Caro-Kann Defense
03:39 What’s the point when you can’t attack?
05:29 So, what to play against 1.e4 as Black?
06:15 Countering your opponent’s early opening tricks
08:05 How to counter the Fried-Liver Attack?

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90 Comments

  1. As a 1500 who plays French and London, I'd disagree. If you pick Scandi or some other opening that is basing on gimmicky tactics in first 10 moves, then if your opponent refutes it, you often end up with bizarre positions that are not easy to play for people at my level. That's why i prefer to play more principled chess in the opening and then try looking for attacking chances from there. But as I said it's only my opinion

  2. lol I love the dig against Levy. His caro-kann video has so many views, there's only one thing you need to know about that: Smirnov's fantasy variation explanation against the caro-kann.

  3. The takeaway here is once you’re at a level where you can stop obviously blundering your pieces, dont worry about specific openings as much as ideas and concepts.

    Have a mindset of aggression and attacking, even as black. Every move should present a problem for your opponent to have to deal with and pressuring your opponent with position and “time” (not the clock but the number of moves to respond to something) can easily outweigh minor “material” imbalances (the combined worth of your pieces).

    A pawn is nothing if sacrificing it allows you to continuously keep your opponent under pressure and responding to your moves rather than able to formulate their own ideas.

    Like in all sports, offense beats defense except occasionally at the very very highest level.

    Love the channel Igor, Best Chess teacher on YT! ❤

  4. Another Brilliant video. You just described my entire chess life. Lost my confidence with e5, then played the French for many years with good results. I even played 1.a3 for many years so I could play the French for white. This year has been a huge leap forward with the help of your instructional videos. My game after e4 is very much centered around the Italian/scotch and Halloween. I am slowly moving from French and Caro Khan in favour of an e5 repertoire. What has led me to this is that I've been playing top board for my chess club and our league states that the home team plays black on odd boards. So, players have been playing very solid and uncommittle chess which has caused problems finding attacking solutions when playing the French or the Dutch. Thank you so much for your time and renewing my appetite and enthusiasm for our incredible game

  5. You’re not wrong Igor. I started to play the Caro Khan and it did help me reach 1200 but I am now stuck between 1250 – 1290. I think I will learn to attack like you said and learn a new opening to improve my attacking skills.

  6. The opening will shape the entire game. If you play a defensive opening like the London, the game will probably be boring and end in a draw. If you play a more aggressive line like the Halloween gambit, then the game will have much more action and you will get many more chances to attack, but so will your opponent

  7. after i watched this video i legit didnt encounter e4 for 8 games

  8. I remember learning the Scandinavian with 2…Qxd5 as my main weapon, thinking it would stop White's early attacks. And it did! However, I frequently got dull positions where neither side could do much, and it wasn't that much fun. Certainly White wasn't under any pressure, and so White blundered less often. Conversely, when I played openings like the Kan or the Dragon that put some pressure on White, blunders happened much more often. The downside, of course, is that I can blunder more as well!

    I think it comes down to mindset, "playing to win" vs "playing not to lose." My winrate and my enjoyment peak so much more when I'm doing the first one.

  9. When I learnt chess nearly 60 years ago, I had an oldish book called How to Play Chess by Cunnington, and he recommended playing the Kings Gambit and its variants because he said they provided excellent practice in tactics and how the pieces coordinate. You can then carry that into your general play and gradually add more strategic elements. I remember trying the Caro-Kann and finding that I got slowly squashed against stronger payers and couldn't develop any advantage against weaker ones. One comment from a 1960s openings book; "Most masters couldn't warm to its dullness until Botvinnik fashioned it into a precision weapon for his matches against Tal". I moved on to the French and got much better results, though more attacking players would prefer the Sicilian. The snag with 1 e4 e5 at higher levels is that White has so many possible tactical lines of play which can suddenly give a big advantage if Black doesn't know how to deal with them.

  10. If you are beginners, I recommend you to not play the Sicilian and Ruy Lopez, because they literally have like 20 lines and you have to learn them all and the plan is not that clear.

  11. If someone ever puts me into a fried liver, I go for the Traxler Counter Attack. But I'd never be in that position to begin with, because I don't open King's Pawn against King's Pawn. Maybe I should, as I can crush a Fried Liver Attack. But that's more my style. But, caro kann is good, but Sicilian is the highest rated opening for Black. Just saying, learn a sicilian, and you'll usually have good playing against white. King's pawn isn't really my issue. It's more Queen's pawn, or English systems that give me trouble. Because no matter what, you're kind of screwed.

    Like, my usual for Queen's pawn, is usually hyper modern because I'm a passive player. I like to build fortresses, and slow down my opponent. I do the same in RTS games like AOE. I also like Indian Defenses. Like, I usually play from the periphery.

    I tried the usual, Semi Slav and Slav openings for Queen's Pawn—I don't do Gambits, because again, I'm a control player, and don't like giving my opponent options, but will play an occasional benoni—but I don't like playing against Queen's Pawn or English systems. They're always up tempo, and probably the best openings in Chess. King's Pawn is an inferior chess opening, because it gives black too many advantages.

  12. Sincerely GM Igor, are you able to read my mind? Everyday when I wake up and wondering how to improve my chess, your email are suddenly there and telling me to watch your video, and guess what. I did improve a little bit day by day, just as GM mentioned in this video. I am no idea why I suddenly cannot improve when i am in a certain level. Maybe I need more advice from GM Igor. 😵‍💫😵‍💫😵‍💫

  13. Beginning in Chess…..TALKING "MOVES" AND OPENINGS…….STFU……..NOVICE MAYBE BEGINNING THOU….DONT BE STUPID LESSON 1

  14. The Caro-Kann leads to aggressive middle games for black most of the time. While there is a fair amount of defensive play in the opening, that is when players are still in their prep. The Exchange Variation in particular is the most boring, as it’s just a positional game centered around the Reverse Carlsbad pawn structure. Each player just needs to try different openings for while to see if they like the types of positions they get.

  15. Al Horowitz said that, for the beginner, the best policy is: If you're White, play 1. e4. If you're Black, and White plays e4, then play e5, because you learn the principles of development more quickly in king pawn openings. I'm inclined to agree.

    And his frequent collaborator Fred Reinfeld said, of the Caro-Kann, that it's a good opening for someone who wants to avoid complications and is satisfied with a draw. Of course, as you point out, if you're Magnus that doesn't apply.

  16. I've seen you do several variations on the Fried Liver. Do you prefer the main line with the Knight to the A file, or the trickier B Pawn sacrifice?

  17. The reason I'm not going to advance in chess, is because I only two openings really well. I know other openings, but not well. The two openings I know well is the Vienna as white and Caro Kann as black, basically every variation. I'm too afraid to play anything else.

  18. I am a player who is ~2000. I have followed GM Smirnov since I was 1800. In my experience, you don't actually need to know any opening theory at all even past 2000. I might even question if you need all that much theory up to 2350 even 2400. What you need is familiarity with rules of the opening. There is like three. And then You need to study the ideas of basic strategic chess. 🙂 Of course they sell the courses through this, and I AM an affiliate. However that is not my purpose. You study the strategy, The strategies themselves help guide you to the correct ideas. But when it comes to the openings themselves, the best way to learn them is to go by the pawn formations. And you choose the easiest ones to learn. For example: The Ruy Lopez. Everyone and their grandmother think that the Ruy Lopez is not a good opening for beginners. But in reality it is one of the best openings for beginners. And the reason why is, not only does it have huge theoretical body and it can be extremely complex, but at the same time there are ideas in the Ruy Lopez that even a beginner can grasp well enough to play even with only knowing 3-5 ideas. And from those 3-5 ideas, when you start to get comfortable with those ideas, you can "expand" from there to grow with the opening. Forgive me for saying this, but some people have said, "Such and such opening helped me get to 1200." That is good. I would be proud of any rating that you feel made you accomplish something. However, when the chips are handed in and you have to be honest with yourself, the opening shouldn't even be a factor at 1200. You can play 1. e3 and 2. d3 and then play normal chess and achieve a 1200 rating. The reason people have problems with their rating at 1200 isn't the opening. It's their thought process and how they address the position in front of them. Technically this is a large topic and I can explain details better with questions. So if you have questions you can reply here or even send me a private message. I can explain in detail anything that pertains to the ideas presented here and the even answer questions about the Remote chess academy. Sometimes getting to know a real person beside the "author" or testimonials helps with understanding things, and I don't mind helping with simple questions.

  19. I'm an absolute beginner. I have subscribed. See you in the comments section 🙂

  20. What about the Traxler for the fried liver attack

  21. This was exactly my journey – e4e5, then caro-kann, then hey, if you push c6 is caro later anyway, why not sicilian? I'm still learning the accereted dragon, mixed results, but a lot to discover

  22. I like the refutation you proposed for the Fried Liver Attack. Probably wouldn't happen, but if white does know that refutation, they can do the Polerio, Bishop Check, Bogoljubov Variation, which as y'know is really tricky.

  23. What's wrong with my man on the thumbnail?

  24. Black's e5 opens you up to too many openings for white which requires too much memorization for all the various traps.

  25. Thank you for, as always, a great lesson that focuses exactly in the area(s) I am weakest in. Can't tell you just how much your videos have helped my chess playing!

  26. Great video, as always, entertaining and informative.

    I favor the Pirc. It's deceptively passive at the outset, but can unleash some devastating counterattacks fairly quickly. Not a ton of people familiar with it either, which is a big plus. My $0.10 worth anyway

  27. What about the London system sir? What do you suggest in this line?

  28. TRUE STUFF AS ALWAYS, YOUR BIG CANADIAN RUSSIAN BORN FAN

  29. or the Petrov, it refutes all Italian bishops.

  30. Feel like GM Igor Smirnov Made this video for me

  31. oh wow someone share this with gothamchess 💀

  32. But sometimes I try to invite fried liver for defence training to improve my def skill

  33. It always feels like your talking about me 😅😅
    Thank you for your help 😊👍

  34. The last setup, when white tries fried liver I would also recommend the awesome and dangerous Ponziani Steinitz gambit. Nxe4. Most players dont know the only correct move Bxf7, they usually play Nxf7 or Nxe4 I would say 8/10 games this happens. The most fun is when the play Nxf7 and forks.

  35. This video is literally the story of my very young chess life. It's almost scary.

  36. "If you play the Caro Kann when you are young, what will you play when you are old?" –Bent Larsen

  37. 3:04 I was playing caro-kann every game and falling to same situation where I just don't know how to attack. Thank you for this video

  38. Kind of agree. I like the Caro Kann for avoiding all these traps but then all my games look the same as black and are very slow. Queenside attacks don't seem to do much. Kingside it's very complicated and I feel maybe I'm learning tactics but it's not easy.

  39. Polerio defense plays itself, you should play it

  40. this is not just a wrong approach but also a big obstacle for any chess player to not play an opening just because it leads to an equal/dry position. I am a chess teacher and I think what you say is partially true that caro cann won't give you instant win/massive attack but that's where beginner/intermediate players need to improve by playing equal positions.It helps you understand the intricacies of positional maneuvering and endgame skills. No one can improve their chess without delving deeper into playing equal positions. That's where your true chess skills come to play instead of some opening tricks. Of course, you can win games against lower-rated opponents with tricky/attacking openings, but I have seen more often than not that when you face a stronger opponent who knows how to defend, weaker players suffer. Play Caro cann and develop your positional understanding and endgame ideas. Even if it results in a draw/loss, you will get some invaluable lessons on how to maneuver your pieces in the middlegame and endgame. One of my students, rated around 1900, used to complain that Caro cann offered him no advantage in the opening. So I started analyzing his games and taught him how he could improve his pieces in the middlegame and endgame. After a year of playing Caro cann, his chess understanding massively improved, and he started winning those equal games. He's now 2100, and despite his slow growth in the initial years, he now understands chess at a much deeper level and got a lot of ratings in the last few months playing the same caro cann that he despised.

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