For a moment I was tempted to give Lars' excellent treatise 4 instead of 5 stars because he omits the Smsylov-Karpov variation (...4.Nd7) from the book, so on consideration, I'll give it 5 stars instead of 6.
Seriously, this is a repertoire book in the truest sense of the word and Schandorff has convinced me to take up the ...4.Bf5 line in addition to ...4.Nd7 with his excellent and original analysis, in addition to the thoroughly annotated games.
This book has rekindled my passion in the Caro as I discovered I am not truly a Sicilian player -- I never felt 100% comfortable playing it and now know it will never be my staple reply to e4.
Ditto for ...1.e5 since there is just TOO much theory for a time-stretched businessman/dad like me to hunker down and impart at this stage of life.
But that's really superfluous since the Caro rocks! There's nothing like watching an aggressive e4 player hit his head on the stone that is the Caro-Kann.
The Caro is a super solid weapon for positional players like me that allows for vigorous counter-attack. As you'll see in many of the variations and annotated games, especially the extremely well covered lines of the Advance Variation, once the initiative passes over to Black, White's position can quickly cave in.
BUT... and this is a BIG caveat as Schandorff warns, you must know these lines of the Advance Variation COLD, particularly the forcing and tactical lines commencing with 4.Nc3, which Lars designates as "the Shirov Variation" after the adventurous Latvian/Russian tight-rope walker who popularized it. This line was pioneered to a large degree in the 1990s by Greek GM and author, Vasilios Kotronias and his then excellent book, "Beating the Caro-Kann."
If you do not know the theory of the Shirov Variation, then you should NOT play the Caro. But if you know the theory and understand the ideas, it is likely your opponent who will have something to fear, as there is a ton of scope for aggressive, tactical and often sacrificial play for Black. In fact, it is even necessary in many lines.
(Message to e4 players, the Caro-Kann is not the opening choice of wallflowers but fighters!)
NOTHING is left to chance in this book and it will be next to impossible for you to "get caught" in the opening.
Overview of what's covered:
* The Panov Attack (vigorous attacking lines offered for Black. i.e. NO transpositions to the Nimo-Indian.)
* The surprisingly dangerous (at club level) Exchange Variation
* The deceptively simple looking but venomous Short Variation in the Advance.
* The innocuous Two Knights
* The positionally refuted Bayonet Attack in the Advance Variation. (Often encountered in blitz chess.)
* The obscure Fantasy Varation (with transpositions to the Blackmar-Diemer (the choice of certain 'spaced out' club players, and dealt with on pg. 236, *not* in the chapter on the Fantasy).
* The KID reversed
* 2.b3 (obviously not a concern but this and all other "weird" choices are dealt with by Lars.)
* Even the outlandish but tricky 2.Nc3 followed by 3.Qf3
* And... of course, you will be completely equipped to handle the Classical (Steinitz) Variation with ...4.Bf5. (Note: I have not delved into these waters yet since I still play the line with ...4.Nd7 that Karpov championed for so many years. As I recall, Schandorff favors lines with K-side castling for Black.)
One of the best belly laughs I've had (okay...the only one) from an opening book comes with the variation, 2.f4. Schandorff: "Is White trying to play the Grand Prix Attack against the Caro?" (Okay, you may not share my amusement.)
As far as I'm concerned, this is now (2012) THE book on the Caro-Kann... far, far surpassing Egon Varnusz's long standing treatise on the Caro from the 1980s and the 2nd edition from the early 90s.
So, even if you're a ...4.Nd7 player in the main line, there is nothing to lament. Fortunately, it is not a variation as thick with theory as ...4.Bf5 and as long as you get in an early c5, and avoid sacs on f7 or e6 (unlike Kasparov against Deep Blue) by playing ...Nb6 first, there is nothing to fear. ...4.Nd7 is a variation of ideas and there are bountiful games online to keep you up to speed.
Moreover, and as mentioned, Lars delivers such clarity throughout that he's convinced me to take up the more ambitious line with ...4.Bf5.
Lars Schandorff's "The Caro-Kann" is a deeply thought out repertoire book that is incisively written and explained. You'll have all the knowledge and confidence you need to face 1.e4 whether you're a 1600 player or even 2400.
This "fallen away" Caro player has returned.