Chess openings – English Opening

Chess openings – English Opening

Welcome to Today is all
about the English opening. It begins with the move, pawn to c4. With this
seemingly innocent introduction of the game, White is actually
launching a deep strategy for central control, and he’s also trying to steer
the game towards positional waters in which his opponent might be less
comfortable. Let’s take a look. With pawn to c4, White begins a profound plan
to take the light squares under full control, and to restrain Black
from achieving natural play in the center. White’s decision to delay moving
his central pawns in front of the queen, or in front of the king also has
some interesting benefits here. As we’ve seen in other videos, Black can often
get counter-play in the center, by targeting the central pawns and
the weak squares that they leave behind. But by refraining from bringing a
pawn directly into the center, White is making it a little more difficult
for Black to know where to aim his counter-play at. Another benefit is that by avoiding setting
up a pawn in the center, White has scope for his bishops, particularly his
light squared bishop as we’ll see in just a moment. One of the key ideas
in the English opening is that pretty quickly here, White is going to fee
and chettle [SP] the light squared bishop. And as we’ll see, since there’s
no pawn sitting in the center here, this bishop is quite a monster,
his wide open scope here, and this is one of the other interesting benefits
of the English opening. In fact, White usually combines the moves, pawn
to c4, with the fee and chettle of the bishop, and bringing this knight
to c3. All of this contributes to clamping down big time on those
light squares, making it difficult for Black to target his counter-play. To give an example of how this works, if Black
just sets up, let’s say, a kings Indian set up with knight f6, knight
to c3, pawn to g6, pawn g3, bishop g7, bishop g2. White’s achieved his
setup, and now castles king side. Now here’s where some of the subtle
points of the English, come in handy. White could simply transpose into a
normal King’s Indian line by playing pawn to d4. This would give him typical
position with extra space and plenty of ideas to look forward to in
the later phases of the game. However, Black now has a clear point of counterattack.
He can counterattack the d4 point, and he can hope
to one day attack this center and the weaknesses that have been left behind.
But since White is aiming for an English opening, what he tends to do
in these kinds of setups is he tends to build up his central or his queen
side attack first rather than trying to seize so much of the center and
taking on some of the risks that come along with that. So one typical plan that White can use in
the English is to complete development and then build up his queen side
attack with moves like knight f3, castles, d3, rook b1. Of course, Black
will be playing things in the meantime, but now the idea would be to play
pawn to b4, pawn to b5, and start breaking down some of Black’s defenses
on the queen side, gaining space, stretching out, and seeing how much
of an attack we can get, while in the meantime, it’s harder for Black to
know exactly where to aim his counter-play. Do you really see any weaknesses
for White in this position? They’re difficult to find. Even the dark squares
can be supported later by advances by the pawn. So pawns have remained
flexible here, and this is one of the general ideas of the English opening,
is to stay very flexible and play for this queen side attack with minimal
risk. Another interesting system that White could
play for is known as the Botanic System. This begins with the paradoxical
pawn to e4 move. This might look a little strange since we just
talked about the idea of not blocking in this light squared bishop. But,
in fact, there are some benefits to playing in this way. This is a
super solid setup for White, and now this grip on the light squares is
just huge now. It’s very difficult for Black to break through. On the
other hand, later as play continues, let’s say something like d6, knight
g e2, e5, d3. As play continues, White often has more options in
chess to build up a queen side attack. He can certainly play like this here,
but he also has the idea of eventually breaking through on the king side
in these kinds of positions, say, after castling. And this is another benefit
of this line is that it allows you to look for play on both flanks
if you choose to with White. So we’ve seen a couple of different setups
for White tend to fall under the general theme of aiming to control the light
squares and then gradually building up play on the flanks. This works
against a number of different setups by Black, but now I want to go into
what some of the most popular setups for Black are. Without a doubt, one of Black’s major ways
of combating White’s light great strategy is to play for a counter imposing
grip on the dark squares. Black can do this from the first move with the aggressive
move, pawn to e5, and this sets up a position known as the Reverse
Sicilian. This is one of the most fundamental setups for the English opening,
so one that you really need to study with either side. With this
move, Black is aiming to get control over the dark squares, especially
the d4 point, and later after completing his development, he’ll want to
either expand with pawn to f5 and start building a king side attack. Or later
he might even try achieve d5 very quickly to see if he can achieve some
equality on the light squares. For example, after pawn to g3, knight c6,
and bishop g2, black can select pawn to f5 right away which would be known
as the Reverse Grand Prix attack. And after developing his pieces behind
the pawn, let’s say, knight c3, knight to f6, e3, pawn to g6. White just
continues his development, knight g e2, and we get bishop g7, and castles.
Black is all set up to play for a standard king side attack maybe by breaking
with pawn to f4 at some point, while White has an effective counter
grip in the center and long term play on the queen side. For example,
he’s already to plop in a knight on d5, and he’s already to break with a pawn
to d4. Notice how many key central squares though that the king side
pawns are taking control over. They’ve got d4, they’ve got e4, f4, and g4.
So Black has plenty of space here. Of course, White does not need to be
overly afraid as there are some good ways to keep the situation under control,
but this highlights the point that Black doesn’t have to just sit
around and wait for White to build up his own attack on the center or on
the king side. Now another more restrained approach after
knight c6 here, backing up. Another more restrained approach would be
to avoid playing f5 too early, say, by just g6, and then, let’s say, knight
c3, and bishop g7. Here in comparison to the King’s Indian setup, that
we looked at the very beginning of the video, Black has already set up a pawn
on e5, and this definitely restrains White from achieving pawn to d4.
He just can’t even think about it here. He’s also postponed figuring out
what to do with his king sides knights. This means that he might have some
extra options either to play it to e7, or h6, where it won’t be blocking
that bishop. He may still in this position choose to expand with f5, but
he’ll probably hold off until it’s a little bit better supportive. Black’s strategy, however, does not simply
have to be based around dark square dominance. He may also try to struggle
for equality on the light squares. This is done by trying to achieve
a d5 break as quickly as possible. Now since White is struggling to
get control over that square so quickly, Black has to act pretty fast in order
to pull this strategy off. One way to do this is, for example, to play
knight f6, bishop g2, and now pawn to d5. This is called the Reversed Dragon.
Now after the moves, pawn takes pawn, and knight takes pawn, a very
interesting strategic situation arises. Black has managed to move his D pawn
to get rid of that bind that White was trying to set up on the d5 square.
And so he’s freed up his pieces quite a bit. On the other hand though,
White still has a two to one central majority, which means that he’ll have
an easier time restraining Black’s play and may also try to get some
aggressive chances in the center at a later time. And also, Black’s strategy
has not done anything to dampen the power of this light squared bishop
on g2. So White can still aim for a queen side attack later on in the
game. To get a glimpse of the key positions, White
often plays knight c3, which pushes Black backwards with knight b6. And
now after some natural moves, let’s say, knight f3, developing a knight,
attacking a pawn. Knight c6, and now castles king side, bishop e7, and
let’s say pawn to d3 castles and pawn to a3. White has simply played normally
and he’s ready to now go ahead with the queen side expansion, b4 and
b5. The appealing aspect of this setup for Black though is that he’s not
at all cramped and even holds some extra scope for his pieces since the
e5 pawn is actually pretty well advanced here. This is one popular way that Black can gain
his d5 advance. There’s another way for Black to play for a d5 advance
which leads to a totally different situation. That is, to play, pawn
to c6 before playing pawn to d5. So now we’re aiming to recapture with
a pawn. The disadvantages is that Black is announcing his intention and
he gives White the ability to take strong counter measures right away, and
this is normally done with the reply pawn to d4, which is a great move by
White. And now after pawn takes pawn, queen takes pawn, and pawn to d5, black
is always going to eventually be saddled with an isolated pawn here when
White is ready to capture on d5. So play normally actually continues knight
f3, and bishop e7 first, and now there’s an exchange which takes place on d5.
Pawn takes pawn, and pawn takes pawn, and castles king side, and now
Black’s weakness on d5 is probably not completely compensated for by
the open files that Black has and the open piece play. So White has a little
bit of a plus here, but once again, since Black has achieved pawn
to d5, he doesn’t have too many problems finding active positions for his
pieces, and this is pretty attractive for Black as well. He should have
no problems finishing development and getting a decently balanced
game here. I hope that this video has helped you to clarify
some of the major ideas of the English opening. White is launching a
strategy to really take the light squares under control, and Black has
quite a few different options to choose between. On the one hand if he plays
d5 very quickly, he solves a lot of his problems, but he creates some other
unique positional problems. On the other hand, if he takes on a closed
game, White might feel a little bit more comfortable psychologically as he
can always play for the same plans. And he might also end up being just
a little bit faster, since he’s delayed moving his pawns in the center. There’s
certainly plenty of fascinating information here, and I hope you’ve
enjoyed this as much as I have. Look forward to seeing you again, and
thank you.

100 thoughts on “Chess openings – English Opening

  1. Really good explanation but one question; why would black retreat at 9:23? I'd have thought taking the white knight would have messed up white's pawn structure a bit.

  2. Great video Dereque. I love your videos. They are very concise and useful. I've been learning the English and this really helped me understand the ideas at work in the English. 

  3. Great videos Dereque….these are a great starting point…after getting a feel from the video I hit the bookstore!!

  4. I watched this seminar on English open and tried it on my next opponent, which was chess free on level 9 out of 12 hardness. The immediate moment the bishop connected with the queens side's pawns it was a devastating. I never had such control of the board. Thanks a bunch, you got yourself a new subscriber!

  5. Something about this reminds me of those videos they show on airplanes before you take off. Great video though, simple and informative 🙂

  6. Excellent opening tutorials…I have been playing chess for years. I find it hard to follow books. These videos present a much clearer picture of the meanings behind the opening moves…my next goal is to build a collection of openings that I will develop…thanks much 

  7. as a positional, intuitive player, I feel as if this opening would really suite me. The subtlety allows me to gain control of the centre, develop my pieces and protect my king, whilst also allowing myself many different options to position myself into favourable positions later on into the game, further supporting my intuitive playstyle. I aught to give this a try.

  8. 8:31 if 1. c4,e5  2. g3, Nf5 3.Bg2, d5 4. cxd5, Nxd5 and then 5.Nc3, Nxc3 
    Isn't this bad for white?? b pawn has to take unless white wants to trade queens and lose castling rights and then white is burdened with an isolated pawn on a file which to me in the long run seems to be a weakness which is gonna be hard to defend and furthermore lack of pawns on queen side seem to make the idea of the queen side attack far weaker.

    What should white do in this situation? How come it wasn't talked about in the video?

  9. A nice video, it shows a lot of the basics, it also shows the main parts of the English opening and it was a very good video.

  10. It's a good video but please in the future don't keep the English subtitles. They are ridiculously annoying.

  11. i was looking for a opening like this where most of black's counter play comes helped  get a lot of rating points.thank you.

  12. Regarding the Reversed Grand Prix Attack: I don't like 5. e3 in this position. I read up on it and Ivon Sokolov discoverd that Black has the move 5… d5!?, an interesting move (as annotated) which after 6.Nxd5 Nxd5 7. cxd5, 7… Nb4 forces 8. d3 Nxd5. This allows Black a very fair Sicilian Structure. much rather play 5. d3, attempting to reach a Botvinnik system where Black can transpose into one of those lines with 5… g6 6. e4. There are other independent lines after 5. d3 with 5… Bb4 and 5… Bc5, too.

  13. English Opening transposes into very interesting variations. However, I always struggle to keep Bg2 strong because of these pawn confusion in the center… Do you have any video specific for fianchetto strategies?

  14. These videos are fantastic. Wonderfully clear, concise, with great production value, and so much more. I'd love to see a few continuation videos delving a bit deeper into some of your favorites, or maybe just some of the more popular openings. No matter what, these have to be the most valuable video series available on youtube for chess openings. Thanks for all your hard work, man!

  15. this video is great, i've won a whole bunch of games lately using this system. one question though… i've run into a bunch of people who play D5 right out of the gate. i've been trading pawns and chasing the subsequent queen away with Knight C3. is there a better option?

  16. when I want to try a new opening, Dereque's videos are the first thing to watch. thank you sir for improving my play and for. short but deep and comprehensive explanations of the strategies and tactics of the game!

  17. whenever i play english they always sack my night with their dark squared bishop. i feel like it subtly neutralizes a lot of the threats the english offers because without the knight your queen's side attack is a lot weaker

  18. Hey Dereque,

    Just wanted to say that we've really enjoyed your videos. My son is 7 and loves chess, is in his chess club at school, and always wants to play, and I've never really played have have had a hard time giving him a challenge! Your explanations have been super helpful to me…and, also to my son. So, thank you so much for putting this up on youtube.

    (btw, are you in Seattle, too? Those are the Westin towers?)

  19. I would like to play English opening against Spanish or Italian … this two are the weakness of English opening

  20. I'm hoping to get to a national master title before 15 I'm 12 a grade of 146 ecf I love your opening videos they have helped me a lot !what age did you start playing

  21. Sir, i have see ur vedios…u make it easiyer to understand….i son is 7, he loves the u explain chess. How do i train him to be a national master….pls guide.

  22. I likey! Looks like a powerful, white square complex weapon. Dereque, are you back dropped by Manhattan and do you coach privately? Thanks for the great videos.

  23. The English opening is pretty intriquing. It's different what most may expect from White to start things off. I was hoping you'd do another opening for white that starts with a flank pawn opening things up. The Bird opening. I'd be interested in your analysis and outlook.

  24. Bronstein played english c4-e5, and transposed into King's Indian Defense. But, I would love to see an Old Indian Defense

  25. Why show the British flag for the English opening? Show the English flag. Nice clear video everything well explained.

  26. You represent the game well homie! No doubt. This is also my specialty. When playing against very strong opposition, I find that this opening gives me the most flexible course of action and reduces the chance for me to screw something up.

  27. Hi Dereque, what I thoroughly enjoy in your videos is that you immediately and clearly explain the strategic goals behind moves, which then helps understanding how to develop one's own play. Some chess lecturers just go over games and/or go over lots of variations, but your videos demonstrate WHY certain moves are made at a certain moment.

  28. Dereque your videos are the best in the Universe. At 2:40 you mentioned risk, what are the risk of trying to seize too much of the center?

  29. I'll keep saying it: You are really good at making transparent the question of choices. I was for many years a college professor, so I really do enjoy the quality of the pedagogy. Just awesome!

  30. When I watched these videos a couple of years ago, when I was just rediscovering chess, they made little sense…


    And you're very watchable, Dereque. Thank you.

  31. It really bugs me that although it's the English opening you have started with a British flag. There's a big difference, ask any Scotsman!

  32. We saw blacks opening moves but no middle game plans for each variation. What does black play in the reversed Sicilian after a3?

  33. These are all great videos by this guy including this one, but people need to learn how to pronounce the word fianchetto FEE-ahn KE- toh The italian "ch" makes a hard K sound!

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