International Chess Day: The Caro-Kann


In 2021, Gambit Publications published Win with the Caro-Kann. The authors, Norwegians Sverre Johnsen and Grandmaster Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen, recommend specific lines for Black. The book’s specialization is a plus if a reader is looking for a repertoire. It also is a useful guide to selected lines of the Caro-Kann Defense, if you are teaching chess for International Chess Day, July 20, 2021.

international chess day

Interacting through Chess

One fun aspect of chess is interacting with people. At in-person chess tournaments, it’s natural to review your just-played game with your opponent, a ritual called a post mortem. FIDE (International Chess Federation) suggests teaching chess to one person on July 20, 2021, for International Chess Day. You can change somebody’s life by teaching them chess and spend some quality time with that person through chess too.

While I used to teach chess to children at in-person chess camps, those camps have not happened in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic. Since 2001, I have taught chess online to adults. Most students in my courses are chess beginners.

I have connected with others through my chess writing. Typically, someone reads one of my articles or books and then contacts me. Sometimes, the person has an interesting story to tell, and we become co-authors.

Chess and Prison

That was the case with Damion Coppedge, who contacted me through social media. Coppedge and I then co-wrote an article about him playing chess before, during, and after his time in prison. Coppedge and I have stayed in touch, and he often emails me his chess games. When he sent me a game he won as Black with the Caro-Kann Defense, I immediately thought of Win with the Caro-Kann. That book’s preface states, “However, for most readers we expect them to be mostly for looking up a line after it occurs in one of their games.”

Caro-Kann Defense

I did look up Coppedge’s opening in Win with the Caro-Kann. But his seventh move is not featured, even though it is the most common move. In this game, Coppedge did not learn this opponent’s real name. However, it is possible to meet other chess players online through chatting with them.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h6 7.Nf3

chess diagram

7…Nd7 [Sverre Johnsen and Grandmaster Torbjørn Ringdal Hansen mention that 7…Nd7 prevents 8. Ne5, writing, “This was for a long time considered mandatory and is still the most common move.” But their focus is an entirely different line.]

[7…e6 Johnsen and Hansen recommend 7…e6!? The rationale is that the b8–knight may later want to go to c6 rather than d7.]

8.h5 Bh7 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 Ngf6 [10…e6 11.Bd2 Ngf6 12.0–0–0 Be7 is the only line given by Johnsen and Hansen. Black’s plan is to castle kingside and break with …c5.]

chess diagram

11.c4 e6 12.0–0 Be7 13.Be3 a5 14.a4 Qc7 15.Rfe1 0–0 16.Rad1 b5? 17.cxb5 cxb5 18.axb5 [White is a pawn ahead and Black’s compensation is unclear.]

chess diagram

18…Bb4 19.Re2 Nd5 20.Rc1 Qb8 21.Bd2 Rc8 22.Rxc8+ Qxc8 23.Ne5!? [23.Ne4 Bxd2 24.Rxd2 Qc1+ 25.Kh2 Qc7+ 26.g3 White is better.]

chess diagram

23…Nxe5 24.dxe5 Rb8 25.Ne4 Bxd2 26.Qxd2 Qc4 27.Nd6 Qb4 28.Qd3?? [28.Qxb4 axb4 29.Re4 White is winning this endgame.]

28…Nf4 [Forking the queen and rook. Now Black wins.]

chess diagram

29.Qf3 Nxe2+ 30.Qxe2 Qf4 31.g3 Qc1+ 32.Kh2 Qc5 33.Qf3 Rf8 34.Qe2 f6 35.b6 Qxb6 36.Qc4 Qxf2+ 37.Kh3 fxe5 38.Qxe6+ Kh8 39.Qxe5 Qf1+ 40.Kg4 Qd1+ 41.Kh3 Qh1+ 42.Kg4 Qf3+ 43.Kh3 Qf6 [White resigned]

chess diagram

Brief Book Review

Win with the Caro-Kann

Win with the Caro-Kann is not a comprehensive guide to that opening. Click on the book’s webpage and download a PDF file which includes the book’s Table of Contents. Only certain lines, recommended by the book’s authors, are covered. The book could be a useful guide for your chess teaching on International Chess Day, July 20, 2021. You would not be teaching an entire opening, just some lines in the Caro-Kann Defense. Then both you and your student would have an opening as Black against 1. e4. You can also watch a YouTube video about the book.

About Damion Coppedge

Coppedge likes playing the Caro-Kann Defense as Black, emailing, “I notice a lot of times I end with advantages on the queenside, with play along c-file.” Check out Coppedge’s Instagram @chessoptics or his YouTube channel. He is also chessoptics on lichess.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

About the players

One Response

  1. Damion Coppedge
    Damion Coppedge at

    Thank you Alexey for the game reference 😊