The Owen Defense Part 1
Jul 26, 2013, 12:07 PM
The Owen Defence, or English Defense, is characterized by the moves 1...e6, 2...b6 or 1...b6, 2...e6. This defense is an uncommon hypermodern defense named after John Owen for his use of it in the mid 19th century. This defense goes back farther than the Indian defense, but did not see popularity until English masters Tony Miles and Raymond King used it in the 1970s to great effect. Their theory on the opening made it into a definite playable defense for black that could prove well if white did not know what to do.
Example game 1:
In spite of the mistakes made by both sides, I felt I had to include a game by the inventor himself.The Owen defense did lose popularity at the time mainly due to the variation with white playing d4, c4, Nc3, and e4 in which black has lost the center and it did not look good for black. Later analysis showed that black could have plans around delaying moving the king's knight and using the f pawn to attack the center. Here is a game when I first started learning the Owen.
Here is another game I played at this same tournament but drew because of my lack of endgame knowledge. I was still a beginner at the time.
I plan on later blogs to cover specific variations of the Owen Defense. This defense is very complex. Black's move of b6 does directly threaten or influence any move by white next moves which brings about many variations that players of the Owen Defense have to know in order to play well. This is a reason why I believe the Owen Defense is not that popular. Yes, the moves are the same by developing the light-squared bishop to b7 and playing e6 to open the dark-squared bishop, but black needs to know where to develop the knights, when to play d5 or not play d5, when to play c5 or not play c5, when to play f5 or not play f5, etc. For the next blog, I tend to cover the most aggresive strategy by white, the Austrian Attack, named for the similar attack against the Pirc Defense. Although I am not advocating the defense, I do recomend players learn this for its various positional and tactical lines that come about.