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I never used to play the symmetrical english on the black side but have been experimenting with it lately on ICC. I wound up on the black side of the four knights anglo-benoni and man is that one tough opening to face!
The Reti proper (1.Nf3 d5 2.c4) is a very difficult and positionally demanding opening. Certainly not an opening a new player should care about.
I love the reti.
I don't play the English but I respect it as I find it difficult to defend against. d5 seems to give white a tempo in a few moves, and e6 blocks in his queen's bishop.
English opening can lead to a various opening lines. It can come to Queens Gambit, or a kings Indian etc. :)
I am certainly lower rated than a lot of other people (working towards 1500 on here currently), but I only play the English as my opening and I enjoy it.
People talk about the amount of theory you have to learn because it can turn into other openings easily. You can also avoid a lot of transposition from sticking with c4 g3 Bg2 for just about anything they do (obviously if black plays 1...d5 then capture and play Nc3 after he takes with the queen). It stops a lot of transpositions and cuts down on the theory. Is there a chance you'd have slightly less advantage when doing this then if you had transposed? Sure. Will that slight change matter if you aren't playing at an IM or GM level? Probably not.
Also people seem to forget that if you play e4 or d4 you have to learn just as much theory because the opponent gets to choose which opening you go into and there are a lot of options.
I also find that with c4 at the levels I'm playing it keeps my opponent from playing memorized lines and now it is you thinking vs them. I do run into an occasional opponent who plays instantly in the opening and has clearly studied responses to the English but overall it isn't the case.
I also view it as an opening that will grow with me as I improve. I can start going into the transpositions which will start me learning other openings as I rise to the level where I'm ready for that.
I think I might have played against it once here on chess.com in the span of a lot of games so I don't get to practice the other side of it very often.
Theory is not the issue. The issue is that you're going to get in positions where the things you need to get an advantage are practically useless in most of your games.
The most simple example is 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cd Nxd5 5.Nc3 Nb6. After finishing development White's usual plan is an attack on the queenside with ideas like a3, b4, Rb1, Na4 e.t.c; While you're running around trying to pretend to know what you're doing your opponent can just find ways to crash through the center. He is at least trying to develop his pieces to good squares and trying to control the center. White's plan defies everything that a beginner should ever worry about in a chessgame - playing on the side of the board rather than the center, giving your opponent the center and a space advantage and minority attacks. None of these things are remotely necessary to win games and you're working twice as hard as your opponent who is just hacking away and making OBVIOUS progress.
Case and point:
Carlsen had 1 minute and played with no strategy other than to attack, attack, attack and since White's queenside play wasn't working out the attack went through very quickly. This is what you can expect a lot of the time when you don't just grab the center for yourself and is an obvious way to play against the English.
My personal favorite is 1...e6. Why? Because they have no choice but to play d4 and since a lot of people play the English to avoid queen's gambit they won't have a clue of what they're doing. Even IF they play Reti sooner or later a position of isolated or hanging pawns will arise and once again their avoidance of classical systems will come back to haunt them.
So you may be avoiding theory but you're also avoiding a lot of other important things.
Anthony I thoroughly disagree.
First, showing one game where Carlsen played against the English and won does not a point make. Especially since he has played the English himself as white before.
Second, there are more options in reply to e6 than to simply play d4 that are sound (proven by GM analysis).
Lastly, the first basic premise of the English is that you ARE putting pressure on the center from the edge and is setting up a situation where if black tries to immediately take the whole center white is set to exchange a flank pawn for a center pawn. The whole base of the opening is heavily controlling the white center squares. So to say you are neglecting the center and going against basic opening theory is just plain wrong (not to mention on top of that white is typically planning to fianchetto the bishop, move out the knight and castle so he is developing pieces quickly and castling quickly, all part of the basic opening principles).
You also are trying to act like the English will simply lose with comments like simply hack away, and other random nonsense as if it is an unsound opening. It is a perfectly sound opening and has extremely similar win/tie/loss rates as e4 and d4. Go ahead and look on chess.com's game explorer for first moves.
You can prefer a different opening, but spouting random false statements is not the best way to make an arguement.
You don't see my argument. I am not saying there is anything wrong with the opening at all. I have used it and have won money with it.
The problem is the player not the opening. By using 1.c4 to "avoid" things you're missing out on too many other parts of chess.
For example 1...e6 does not refute the English. BUT it is a very good way of weeding out people that have no knowledge of classical chess. The Reti is a good opening but in the end it will gravitate towards a classical pawn structure and then it won't matter what opening you played.
Secondly you are wasting your time with pressuring the side of the board when everyone at our level can get knocked out by 1-2 punches. Of course it is your choice to play however you want but you are working twice as hard as everyone else every game. That's working hard but not smart.
Finally what GMs play is completely irrelevant because the playing fields are completely different. We can play practically anything but their competion forces them to play differently than we do and so comparing the two fields makes no sense.
You are misreading things in my posts. I am not playing c4 to avoid anything at all. I said you can avoid transposition and be in a fine position. That's why I said you can play c4 g3 bg2 to almost any response to c4 and you will be ok, especially at our levels.
I also was pointing out that I think it is a bit misleading for people to say beginners should avoid c4 because of all of the theory involved when playing e4 or d4 can run into so many vastly different openings by black that there is just as much to learn.
I also fully disagree with playing c4 at our level resulting in working twice as hard. There is simply no basis for that statement, and in fact many of my easiest games were from playing c4.
The biggest reason I would recommend c4 to other beginners and lower ranked players is you avoid what people have memorized at our levels. When playing e4 or d4 you run into players who have memorized certain opening lines even 10 moves or more deep at our rating levels. In contrast very few seem to have memorized anything in the English so it can be a match of calculation and skill instead of memorization as I haven't yet taken the time to memorize many opening varations to any real depth.
I've been playing chess for around 6 months now (pushed pieces around as a kid without ever learning anything beyond the basic rules. Typically moved the knights around a ton with no regard to other things as it was fun) and am seeing constant steady improvement. I only say that as proof enough to other beginners that playing c4 will not destroy you or make you work harder or anything else. I've found playing c4 as white and playing the Caro-Kann vs e4 and the KID against d4 has worked well for me up to this point.
With the black pieces, there many good choices to pick from when facing 1.c4. Without knowing how strong you are or what your preferences are, it is hard to make a single recommendation though. One idea for players who like playing the white side of the Sicilian Dragon is to just do the same thing with black (minus a tempo of course.)
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 and voila. A 1.e4 player should feel right at home.
Otherwise, many players just do whatever it is they do against 1.d4, with slightly altered move order. For example, to get a QGD, 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 d5. Of course, white may choose here to sidestep the QGA with 3.cxd4 exd5 4.d4.
Dutch player? 1.c4 f5 and you'll be there soon enough.
Or for the King's Indian, just play the King's Indian. You'll either get it, or a better version of it. Same with the Old-Indian.
Gruenfeld players often miss their opportunity to play this defence. 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.e4 when its probably heading into a KID. But the Gruenfeld can still be reached if Black plays d5 on move 2 instead of 3. This works because there is already a knight on c3 to trade off.
After 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6, white often plays 3.d4. but may instead choose to sidestep the Nimzo-Indian by playing 3.e4. A pet line of Kasparov.
Slav player can try 1.c4 c6, hoping for 2.Nc3 d5 or 2.d4 d5. But be warned, white may insted play 2.e4 when after 2...d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.d4, you have arrived at a Panov Caro-Kann.
Other defences to 1.d4, such as the Benoni, Benko, Chigorin, Albin, or Budapest, may not be reachable after 1.c4 unfortunatly. Unless white really wants to face them, that is.
That's all I got. Hope it was helpful.
@varelse1 2Nc3 has gone out of fashion at this point. It has been said to be better to play g3 Bg2 and often Nf3 first. It avoids the bishop trade for the knight doubling the c pawns.
@baatti The reversed Sicilian is the main reply to c4, however I don't think any second move by black refutes c4 at all, especially Bb4. I am assuming you are refering to if white plays Nc3 on their second move (which isn't the standard move order anymore) because there'd be no point to the move after 2. g3. That definetly doesn't refute anything as it was the standard 2nd move by both white and black for a long time with the eventual exchange to double the c pawns. White still has a fine position and is certainly playing for a win.
I think that if white just plays inferior pawn moves on the first two moves (c4, g3) without establishing a pawn in the centre or developing a piece this simply favours black.
Many game results contradict that easily. If it really favored black the game results would show this, yet the results follow similar percentages to e4 and d4 openings.
Here's one that transposed into what we're talking about, Kasparov seemed to have no problems with those two pawn moves first http://www.chess.com/games/view.html?id=1135790
Carlsen vs Anand Rapid: http://www.chess.com/games/view.html?id=4420788
The fact is you can go on and on and on with links to high level players who have played c4 and g3 in the first two moves and found it to be solid. It clearly doesn't favor black but instead results in a game where both sides can play to win like all solid openings.
If you are interested in finding out about the English Opening, I found a short 8 minute video that covers the basics. You can find the video at:
There are other videos on youtube as well so you might wish to do a search and see what other videos might be available on this opening.
I only watched the first bit of that but he is showing a fairly obscure english there.
Here's one for you http://chessopenings.com/english+opening/
Thanks for the link. It was pretty good in terms of explaining some variations and the strengths and weaknesses of them.
Well isn't you claiming the English is a draw the same as ponz claiming it's as good as e4 and d4? We have no way of really knowing. And that's a good thing.
"Everything right" is rather relative: 5.e3 was far more ambitious than the meek 5.d3.
Anyway, your only active plan seems to be 8.Bg5 followed at some time by Nc3-e4, but I wouldn't expect more than a very tiny advantage, since white's play up to now has been too nonchallenging, and Black has a sound and solid position.
Despite my reservations I have tried c4 in a recent online game.
I did everything right: played g3 on the second move, did not let my c3 knight to be harrased etc.
This is the position reached after the opening:
Black seems to be rock solid.
C4 experts please help: what is my plan here?
Not surprisingly I agree with pfren. d3 was not a good move choice there and that was the problem. Playing the line badly and then using that as a reason the opening is not good is not a great argument.
My first thought as I clicked through your game was to actually play 4 e3 instead of Nc3. I would have liked that position more, in fact I think I've played that exact sequence once or twice on chess.com.
Playing 4.e2-e3 before Nc3 asks for 4...d5! when suddenly white must start thinking about equality.
4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 is to my taste much preferrable, when neither 5...d5 or 5...d6 look like typical equalizers.
Interestingly enough on this site's database (which is a smaller one) there is no game for playing d5 after e3 in that spot. If d5 was that strong of a move you'd expect there to be people playing it there. Without really analyizing the position, I think I'd simply play cxd5 followed by Nc3, if he retreats the knight to b6 the position doesn't look so bad for white and looks similar to when black starts off playing a reversed dragon. Maybe deep analysis would show this to be a bad approach though.
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