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The John Watson books sound interesting, especially the 1.c4 as I've been sticking to the English as my white opening for now (English as white, KID against d4 and Sicilian against e4 as black).
I have enjoyed many videos on chess.com. Some of them I find very instructive other ones I find to be less instructive because they are above my level so I'm not absorbing much. Some of GM Shanklands latest have been more specific on each of the moves (even if at times he does sound like he's in pain having to explain why a move is so easy). I have been watching Rensch's Pawn Structures 101. I don't think I'm absorbing all of the information available in those yet so I'll have to go back over them as I get a bit better. Part of that might be also that for the most part the ones I've watched so far are openings I don't play so it makes it harder.
Then look no further. Of all the openings, IM John Watson's absolute favorite opening is The English (1.c4). He put a ton of work into this volume. His great enthusiam for this opening has caused me to pause and try it now and then, away from my normal 1.e4.
You won't be wondering why this or that move is being played anymore, including strategic goals and how to handle the pawn structures that arise, after reading this book.
His approach to teaching openings is unique, showing the similarities and differences between the various opening systems in each volume, teaching the underlying chess principles that unite ALL chess openings, which completely rids one of boring memorization.
It will be your favorite chess book. Looks like I will be reading a few chaptures again in this volume. It's great chess teaching.
In this highly-acclaimed and popular series, John Watson helps chess-players achieve a more holistic and insightful view of the openings. He explains not only the ideas and strategies behind specific openings, but also the interconnections of chess openings taken as a whole. (Very Cool!)
By presenting the common threads that underlie opening play, Watson provides a permanent basis for playing openings of any type.
This third volume focuses on the English Opening while also drawing together many threads from the first two books in a wide-ranging discussion of general opening topics. (Very Cool!)
With due respect, Marin's repertoire book series on the English (published by Aagard's Quality Chess) are miles ahead than the best book Watson ever achieved.
But that is a book series, not one book on the English. Sure, a person can purchase a multi-volume set on one opening, but I don't think that is what the OP is after, reading his first post. I guess it depends on your skill level and how much information you want.
For me, one book on the English is plenty, and I happen to like John Watson's writing style. I am not an International Master!
I would argue that the ambitious player should puchase Marin and Watson if he wants to play the English!
Marin's rep book is limited to the 1.c4/2. g3 move order -- notably to avoid any possible transpositions into the Hedgehog formation (which Marin loves as black by the way). Watson doesn't cover every possibility in his volumes -- Musikmole describes quite well JW's intention with the 4 volume series -- but he does look at the 1.c4 and then 2. Nf3 and 2. Nc3 options, which can give rise to variations/systems not covered by Marin.
Incidentally, there is an old piece of advice which I first saw mentioned by Kotov in "Think Like a Grandmaster", although he probably isn't its originator. It is: study/learn a few systems in great depth whilst having a general knowledge of all the openings. Even if one never plays the Benko Gambit with White or Black, for example, it will enrich one's knowledge of chess to be aware of the typical ideas of the Benko. Did you know for example that Black, even though a pawn down, often can afford a queen exchange because it increases his positional pressure for the gambitted pawn? (It's a big surprise when you see that idea for the first time.)
I was adviced not to take up the Sicilian at my rating level, because these moves black makes - I cannot understand them either.
Avoiding opening explorers
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