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Caro Kann Formation

Slow middlegame. It's hard for white to break open the center without taking risks.
White has better center control, better spots for his pieces, and a break by pushing d5.
Black has to find a way to play e5 or c5, otherwise he will be cramped.
When white prevents both e5 and c5, his simplest plan is a kingside attack.
Pushing d4-d5 is very good if white is better developed, but can be bad if the pawn can
be attacked on the d-file. The white bishop is best placed on g2 where it is most useful
after the push. The rooks should be placed on the e-file since they will then gain more
mobility after the push as well.
The d4-d5 push must be carefully planned and prepared for, not mindlessly done.
Black can attack the d4 pawn with pieces, through methods such as throwing major
pieces on the d-file and playing Bf6.
d5 can be played as a gambit to get white a lot of initative, especially if black is
uncoordinated or has ignored his kingside.

c5 is the easiest push for black. It gives freedom to black's minor pieces and opens up a diagonal
for the light squared bishop if that is still on the board. If white lets black play cxd4 and then
recaptures with a piece instead of a pawn, c5 and e5 become outposts. If white recaptures with a
pawn then it is isolated and can be blockaded by a knight.
White should be careful moving his c-pawn, making sure d4 is not weak before pushing it to c4.
Sometimes it can be useful to support the d-pawn with c3, although this leads to an isolated dpawn.
If, after c5, white plays dxc5, he can get the d-file, the a1-h8 diagonal, and d4 for a piece. These
are dynamic features and black must make sure he is safe from them before pushing c5. White
also gets a queenside pawn majority. White's majority is better in the endgame, black's is better
in the middlegame because he can use it as a weapon to take over the center.
There are two cases when c5 can be met with d5: When the pawn on d5 can be maintained
because black was careless, and when it is a successful sacrifice, which all depends on white's
development.
When black delays in pushing c5, white can push it himself, although this leaves a hole on d5 and
the d4 pawn open for attack, as well as letting black play b6 later on. But white has a grip on the
center that can be converted into a kingside attack.

e5 is a better push for black because white doesn't get a queenside pawn majority, and
the light-squared bishop (if there is one) immediately gets space to play in.
e5 is usually harder to play because white has a knight on f3 watching it and black
usually develops his bishop to e7.
It is mostly an equalizing move, although if black is better developed he could end up
better.
When black points all his pieces at one pawn break at the expense of the other, it
might do white good to stop that break even if it hurts his position or plans.
f4 and Ne5 are both ways to stop the e5 push.