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How To Beat 1.c4

How To Beat 1.c4

Illingworth
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9

How do you beat the solid, flexible English Opening (1.c4)?

Today, I'm going to show you TWO solutions that allow you to grab a central space advantage and set problems for your opponents!

Recently, one of my Grandmaster friends asked me why I ask a lot of questions on Facebook. The answer is that, starting in 2014, GM Jan Gustafsson taught me many times about the importance of 'asking questions' in our chess games. By asking more and more questions, and more difficult questions at that, eventually our opponents will get the question wrong, and we win! 

Now let's see how to ask tough questions of our opponents in our games!

Method 1: Reversed Dragon

The most theoretically potent counter to 1.c4 is 1...e5, and in our first video, we see GM Hikaru Nakamura smash GM Evgeny Tomashevsky in less than 20 moves with the Black pieces in a recent Titled Tuesday game, here on Chess.com! 

Is that too aggressive for you? Then you will enjoy the more solid method below!

Method 2: Classical Development, Followed By Grabbing Central Space

Our second system relies more on classical development and solidity, with the solid QGD approach of 1...Nf6, 2...e6 and 3...d5, followed by ...Be7 and ...0-0 to complete kingside development and keep strength in the centre.

Of course, to have the maximum results with this approach, you do need to be ready for a transposition to a Queen's Gambit Declined if White plays a later d4. However, in the game Svidler-Fressinet, shown below, White didn't play d4, and Black took over the centre with a Benoni style ...c5 and ...d4:

Let us know in the comments below what you learned from these two videos and games!


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In the next days, I'll be experimenting with 2 new videos a day on my Youtube channel. That way, I can experiment with some really exciting content ideas I've had lately, and you'll see the results for yourselves soon!

Take care,

GM Max