Usually, surprising sidelines tend to be objectively dubious, but the following is totally sound according to several sources (I’m keeping some of them under my hat.) The idea I have in mind is similar to the Caro-Kann “two-knights,” which occurs after 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3. Here, white holds back the d-pawn at least for a while and simply develops. This line was a favorite of Fischer’s, but it doesn’t cause black any immediate trouble and his plans are straight forward and in keeping with the themes of the Caro-Kann. However, after the move 3.Qf3!? instead of 3.Nf3, we have the following eye popping position, which may occur through several move orders but properly belongs to the 1.Nc3 Dunst opening more than any other.
I hope to show that this position is more than playable for white- it is sound- and moreover black has no clear path to equality. This may be reached through a number of different move orders, including the Scandinavian 1.e4 d5 2.Nc3 c6 3.Qf3, as well as through the Dunst via 1.Nc3 d5 2.e4 c6 3.Qf3. Here, there a number of moves that look playable for black. There are: d4, e6, Nf6, e5 and dxe4. Black is immediately confronted in the center and must decide on a plan early. This position will almost certainly be a surprise to your opponent, who will no doubt think that the queen sortie is incorrect and therefore try to “punish” you. The upside to this is getting out of book and playing chess. The queen sortie is perfectly sound and supported by some theory, and this idea was first pointed out to me by Asa Hoffman who uses it regularly. He said he got it from a book on 1.Nc3 by Keilhack, titled “Der Linksspringer.” Since then, I have seen it in a few different places, and even had a brief conversation with Yaacov Norowitz (who plays the caro-kann exclusively) about it. Norowitz seemed to think it wasn’t that frightening for black, but admitted that he had wrestled with how to meet it and decided upon the straightforward move 3…e5, but seemed a little uncertain still.