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Hypermodernists tend to favor flank openings such as f4(Bird's) c4(English) and Nf3(Reti). I play 1. c4 ___ 2. g3. Can this line of the English be used agressively? Or must it be from a defensive standpoint.
Don't mistake the intent to build up before starting an attack as playing defensively. White is quite aggressive in the english, sometimes with a king side attack sometimes with queen side expansion to disrupt and win pawns there.
Personally I think 2.g3 isn't always the best option (although it's the popular repertoire now), and that the most aggressive English options usually intend to play d4 very quickly.
You can play aggressively no matter what the first moves are. It's up to you. Seek out the wins by Pillsbury, Lasker, Rubinstein, Capablanca, Marshall, and Alekhine on the Black side of the QGD.
As my old mentor once told me, "Forget about a dangerous opening, be a dangerous player!"
I like your mentor!
The Botvinnik setup (c4, g3, Bg2, Nc3, e4, Nge2, d3, O-O, h3, etc.) going for fluid development and a natural kingside expansion plan, at the cost of making the d4 square extremely weak, could be considered aggressive.
I am definitely a hypermodernist. I have never liked playing 1.d4, and 1.e4 was somewhat more to my taste. Yes, yes....love doing something to the f-file on the first move (1.nf3 or 1.f4 for me!)
I still have this misconception that the english is a boring opening...which is pathetic since all of the world's elite are playing it. Look at Aronian's game against Wang Hao at Tata Steel this past January. He CRUSHED him in the opening/ early middlegame with such a "boring" setup. You would be surprised how simple looking positions can be so deadly.
You can play any position aggressively, but it simply may not be the best idea. English players like to play for the d5 square or like to avoid the sharpest variations of Grunfeld.
does OTB rating vary geographically?
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