English Opening - How to Play the d-pawn Openings - The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

Book Eight

How to Play the d-pawn Openings

English Opening

After 1.c4 Black has many replies, such as 1…Nf6 or 1…e6, which are likely to transpose into other openings. Generally speaking, it is only 1…e5 which gives this opening independent status. In the ensuing play it is White’s object to utilize 1.c4 to control the d5-square. The logical way to do this is to fianchetto the light-square bishop, which is consequently one of the most popular positional motifs of this opening. Black must fight energetically for control of the center in order to maintain equality.

(a) King Fianchetto Variation with …d5

English Opening

White - Black

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 (D)


Position after 5.Bg2

Note how powerfully White’s fianchettoed bishop bears down on the long diagonal, particularly on the vital center square d5. Black must come to a decision about the future of his attacked knight.

Black can maintain the knight at his centralized post with 5…Be6, but after 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 White forces Black to give way with the dynamic 8.d4!. Then, after 8…exd4 9.Nxd4 Nxc3 10.bxc3 Nxd4 11.cxd4 c6 12.Rb1! White still maintains his pressure on Black’s game.

5…Nb6 6.d3 Be7 7.Nh3!

White’s 7.Nh3 is a notable exception to the rule that it is poor play to develop this knight to the side of the board. On h3 this knight allows the bishop to exert full sway on the long diagonal, and also permits the early line-clearing f2-f4! (both objectives would be blocked by the orthodox Nf3).

7…0-0 8.0-0 Nc6 9.f4! Rb8 10.fxe5 Nxe5 11.Nf4!

White’s position is distinctly superior. His fianchettoed bishop and both knights control the crucial center square d5; he has an open f-file; and his center pawns have great potential power in case of an eventual advance.

(b) King Fianchetto Variation with …d6

English Opening

White - Black

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 (D)


Position after 4…Bg7

White has the best of both worlds: he not only controls the important d5-square, but he can also control his own d4-square with e2-e3 and utilize this pawn move to build a pawn center.

5.e3! d6 6.Nge2 Nge7 7.d4 exd4 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.exd4 0-0 10.0-0 Nf5

After 11.d5 Re8 12.Ne4! h6 13.Qd3! White has a very superior position, as he can increase his positional advantage with Rb1 and Bd2 followed by Bc3!.

(c) Four Knights’ Variation

English Opening

White - Black

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d4 (D)


Position after 4.d4

White immediately opens up the position on the theory that he can seize the initiative, for example 4…e4 5.Nd2 Nxd4 6.Ndxe4 Ne6 7.g3 with a promising position for White.

4…exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 Ne5 9.f4!

Much more vigorous than the routine 9.e3 Ng6 10.Bg3 Ne4 with a good game for Black.


Not 9…Nxc4? 10.e4! Ne3 11.Qe2 Nxf1 12.e5! 0-0 13.Nf5! with a winning game.

10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.g3! 0-0 12.e4 d6 13.Bg2 c6

After 14.0-0 Re8 15.Rb1 White has considerably more mobility, while Black has vague possibilities of menacing White’s weak c-pawns.