Chess Explained is a new series of books about chess openings. They are not theoretical works in the traditional sense, but more a series of lessons from a chess expert with extensive over-the-board experience with an opening. You will gain an understanding of the opening and the middlegames to which it leads, enabling you to find the right moves and plans in your own games. It is as if you were sitting at the board with a chess coach answering your questions about the plans for both sides, the ideas behind particular moves, and what specific knowledge you need to have.
- 25 recent and highly instructive games discussed in detail
- Chapter introductions and conclusions emphasize the key points
- Full indexes of games and variations
- Extensive verbal explanations of plans and manoeuvres
The English Opening is a flexible and dynamic choice for White, which avoids a great deal of sharp and well-mapped opening theory. It is popular with all levels of chess-players, and has been used to good effect at world championship level by Kasparov, Korchnoi, Botvinnik and other greats of the game. The English gives rise to an immense variety of structures, ranging from reversed Sicilians to Hedgehogs and fluid or locked central structures. It is an opening where strategic mastery of typical positions is of immense benefit, and where Black needs to combine circumspection and vigour to obtain a viable game.
The English Opening can lead to a wide array of different variations and structures. Once we exclude transpositions and lines akin to other openings such as the King's Indian, GrŁnfeld, Dutch, Nimzo-Indian, Queen's Gambit, etc., we can establish three main independent groups after 1 c4, upon which we shall focus in this book.
Firstly we can group together the lines of the Symmetrical Variation, where Black replies with 1...c5.
A second main group is formed when Black plays 1...e5, reaching a Reversed Sicilian.
Lastly, we have a third group in which Black plays differently: the variation 1...Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 Nf3 Bb4, which we could call the 'Nimzo-English', as well as the closely related Mikenas Variation, where White plays 3 e4 instead of 3 Nf3.
This book includes 25 main games. The selection criteria has been to choose major positions from current practice in the three main groups just mentioned, pointing out the typical plans and the common tactical motifs for both sides.
At the beginning of each chapter I give a general description of the lines covered. At the end we make some observations and suggestions,
including a recap of instructive points from the games we have examined.
Part 1: Symmetrical English
While there are some very quiet lines of the Symmetrical English, we shall focus on the more critical lines, where one side or the other seeks a more direct confrontation.
White has several ways of fighting for the centre. The most direct one is to prepare the opening and occupation of the centre with d4. Another is to delay this advance, allowing Black to play ...d5, if he chooses to.
In the first three chapters we consider the first option. In Chapter 1, we shall discuss the Hedgehog over the course of four games, as well as another one where Black deviates from this structure. Chapter 2 examines the Double Fianchetto and Chapter 3 covers a variety of other lines.
In Chapter 4, we focus on lines in which White allows his opponent to open the centre. Black's ...d5 can lead to a form of reversed Maroczy structure, and we examine this in two games, while the last game of the chapter features the Nimzowitsch Variation, where White takes immediate countermeasures in the centre.
Part 2: Reversed Sicilian
In Part 2 we shall analyse the lines derived from 1 c4 e5 in two chapters. Chapter 5 features lines where Black plays ...Bb4, after 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6. This has obvious similarities to the Rossolimo Sicilian, but White's extra tempo can give the play a very different turn. We shall see three games with 4 g3 and two with 4 e3.
In Chapter 6, we explore a variety of lines with g3 over the course of three games.
Part 3: The Nimzo-English Variation and the Mikenas Attack
With the sequence 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6, Black is clearly aiming for a Nimzo-Indian (which arises after 3 d4 Bb4), and our focus shall be on White's ways to avoid this transposition. In the first four games we consider the 'Nimzo-English' (3 Nf3 Bb4), and our final game features Mikenas's 3 e4, which frequently leads to sharp play of a unique character.
Part 1: Symmetrical English: 1 c4 c5
007 1 The Hedgehog
025 2 The Double Fianchetto
034 3 Symmetrical: Miscellaneous
043 4 The Rubinstein System
Part 2: Reversed Sicilian: 1 c4 e5
055 5 The Reversed Rossolimo
078 6 1 c4 e5: Miscellaneous
Part 3: Nimzo-English: 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6
091 7 Nimzo-English and Mikenas Attack
109 List of Games
110 Index of Variations