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  1. Forum
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  3. Caro Kann - Fantasy Variation as Black

Hi- I'm pretty comfortable with all the main Caro Kann variations as black, however I'm having a lot of trouble with the Fantasy Variation, that is 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3. I'm not very comfortable in sharp, gambit-like positions and of the lines and games I've seen, the Fantasy Variation is very sharp and black can be wiped out easily. Does anyone know of a more quiet way to play against the Fantasy as black? One of the lines that catches my eye is 3...dxe4 4. fxe4 e5 5. Nf3 Bg4 and there appears to be good positions for black based on what I've seen, but I'm wondering some of the ideas on how black should play properly.

Feedback is appreciated. Thanks and Happy Checkmating!

@FunnyAnimatorJimTV #1
I used to play 3..e7e5 against it, but was not too happy about it, and Stockfish suggested the quiet 3...e7e6 and I've tried that a few times.
The Lichess Masters opening book shows 3...e7e6 as most played. Scoring best for black with > 150 games is 3...Qb6
Looking at the chessok opening tree, 3...e7e6 is most played.

HTH hf,gl

In Masters databases, white is scoring extremely well against dxe4 (On Lichess white scores 47%, black only 25%, and white is scoring about 49% according to chesstempo). However in both databases black is scoring very well with 3...Qb6 as @achja stated. Black is scoring very well in this line, the most common continuation after 3...Qb6:

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 Qb6 4. Nc3 dxe4 5. fxe4 e5. Black scores 50%, compared to 18% for white.

Stockfish evaluates the position as pretty equal with a slight advantage for white.

I go for a 3. ... g6 + 4. ... Bg7 approach which is quite good playable and probably not too cooperative with white’s fantasies.

Smyslov used to play the 3 f3 variation. In the 15th game of the revanche match for the world championship 1958 Botvinnik played the plan by Makagonov 3...e6 4 Nc3 Nf6 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 Qb6 7 a3 c5 and got the better play. After 3...e6 white should play 4 or 5 e5 and transpose to the French, where white plays f3-f4 in 2 moves and black plays ...c6 and ...c5 in 2 moves.
Besides, the more principal 4...dxe4 5 fxe4 e5 5 Nf3 Be6 was already pointed out by Nimzovich and also gives black equal play.

Good info @tpr, i prefer this over irrelevant engine games.

"The Tartakower or Fantasy Variation, 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3, somewhat resembles the Blackmar–Diemer Gambit. 3...e6 is probably the most solid response, preparing to exploit the dark squares via ...c5, though 3....g6 has been tried by Yasser Seirawan. GM Lars Schandorff and GM Sam Shankland both prefer 3...dxe4 4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bc4 Nd7 7.0-0 Ngf6 8.c3 Bd6 with play being sharp and double-edged. Interesting, though probably insufficient is 3...e5. This so-called 'Twisted Fantasy Variation' aims to exploit White's weaknesses on the a7–g1 diagonal. An idea which is similar to 3...Qb6, a variation championed by Baadur Jobava."

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