The English (1. c4) -- prophylactic (not passive) aggression!

The English (1. c4) -- prophylactic (not passive) aggression!

NM eltenedor
Jan 28, 2015, 10:28 PM |

I essentially make two arguments based on this recent game: (1) for the English opening as white and (2) for the power of prophylaxis (you never know where it's lurking; perhaps we should keep an eye out for it as we would, say, a capture-check!). Rather than to provide a list of computer-generated moves in my analysis, I aim to communicate the ideas behind the moves in an easy-to-understand and fun way that ought to be helpful (that's my hope, anyway!) for players of all levels.


A little context: I was having a terrible start to my tournament. After recent successes I blundered through the first two rounds, including from an advatageous position with none other than the English. The English needed to be redeemed, and this indeed is its redemption for me! I have excluded the name of my opponent out of courtesty to him; though I was able to recover in the second half of the tournament he did not. Come on, I'm not a fan of kicking 'em when they're down! That said, my opponent put up a good fight, forcing me to play with precision to achieve this redeeming game, and he's certainly seen many brilliant wins throughout his long and esteemed chess career thus far. Chess is a competitive sport, I know, but there's just no need to rub it in. I respect him. As for using my own game, I felt that I could best express my ideas that way, though I look forward to annotating the games of specialists in this and similar lines soon! Anyway, let's get down to business! I hope you enjoy the game and analysis:



So, if you were raised, in your chess uprbinging, to believe that the English is a passive or drawish opening, I hope you have seen that nothing could be further from the truth. As I describe in the above analysis, it's the flexibility of the opening that is most attractive to me: whereas in d4 or e4 openings defending players can employ their pet variation, in the English, you have all the flexibility as white and, for the most part, opponents are not as well prepared for it, having written it off or spent their time analyzing the hottest theory in the Shveshnikov. Which gives you plenty of time for, well, sexy prophylactic moves.


And what is the true benefit of a prophylactic move, really? How can we distill it down to its bare element of awesomeness? I'd put it like this: Chess is a game of ideas and creativity. Prophylactic moves stop your opponents from exercising their ideas and creativity. They therefore open up the floodgates for your own ideation and brainchildren. Not only will this likely lead to a theoretical advantage (i.e., the "play the board" part) but this is incredibly frustrating for the opponet, thus leading to a substantial psychological advantage. Milk it, and soon enough your opponent will fall prey to your dark designs, like putty in your hands. This can lead to quite satisfying, if often one-sided, wins -- most importantly, though, it leads to wins. All that's left is the tactical prowess (or "technique") to accurately and decisively finish off the game. In other words: prophylactic moves are preparation for attack, under your conditions.


As an aside, at the end of the day, just because I play the English doesn't mean that I oppose prying open the h file then saccing saccing and mating. Of course, every position is unique and hopefully Caissa will tell you what to do (though you'll be less likely to pry open h files in this opening than if you're playing against the English's inspired cousin, the Sicilian Dragon, as white in the Yugoslav attack...yet I still like black there, esp. when black's pieces are conducted by the fearless Tiviakov! (It's pretty neat to enjoy his games; if you haven't yet I highly suggest it.)


I hope that you have enjoyed this analysis and found it useful. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the statements I have made about the English and prophylactic play to stop your opponent's attack dead in its footsteps while supercharging your own attack (wherever it may lie)? This is my first post, so any commentary/critique would be very welcome. (As a bit of premptive self-critique, I plan to make future posts a bit more concise and to further utilize the tools on the site.) Thanks for reading and check out my chess adventure here. Laughing



Coach profile: