Queenside Pawn Push vs. English Opening

luke623

I am an 18-1900 player (I fluctuate between the two) who plays the English Opening (1.c4). Recently I've had some troubles with the moves 1...b6 and 1...c6.

The problem after 1...b6 is the line in which Black exchanges his bishop for my knight early. I am okay playing a Hedgehog, but I never achieve that sort of position and instead end up in a slightly annoying position after 1.c4 b6 2.Nf3 Bb7 3.g3 Bxf3 4.exf3. Should I just play that position, or should I play into the English Defense (1.c4 b6 2.d4)?

The other move I don't know how to deal with is 1...c6. I am happy to meet 1...e6 with a Catalan so long as I can avoid the bishop check variation, Thus, I hold off playing d4 for a while. However, when I try to play a Catalan against 1...c6, Black gets his light squared bishop out to f5, which I find annoying. In addition, I try to avoid simply "playing an English" due to the capture on c4, which is much more aggravating than after 1..e6. Basically after 1.c4 e6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 dxc4 I can play 4.Qa4 and regain the pawn easily. However, after 1.c4 c6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg3 dxc4, 4.Qa4 does not work. So I don't know what to do against 1...c6. 

Thanks

luke623

This is the annoying position after 1...b6 I usually run into

 

And these are the positions I don't really like after 1...c6. In the Catalan type position I find his light squared bishop very annoying.

BusyNight

i know very little about english opening but when black give bishop on f3 white is left with the bishoppair and the bishop on g2 is on steroids as the other lightsquared bishop that could compete with it is gone. i struggle to see what black could possible have for compensation. the tempo black gains on the queen with Nc6 is not enough

luke623

Well, I find that after g6, Nh6-f5, Nc6, and Bg7, Black has a lot of control on the central dark squares. In addition, I find it annoying to develop the queenside due to the c4 pawn, which can be attacked. Playing b3 to defend it is also annoying because of Black's fianchettoed bishop. Maybe I should play Bxh6 after Nxh6 and use that time to get my pieces in order, as well as make it harder for him to lock down d4.

BusyNight

it would be easier if you posted a game happy.png but i play 1.e4 im sure someone more qualified will drop in to answer

inkspirit
Try this offbeat line if you don’t like the English Defense: 1. c4 b6 2. Nc3 Bb7 3. e4!?

It typically leads to slow but interesting play after 3... e5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Be2 Bc5 6. O-O O-O 7. d3. White will seek chances on either flank with b2-b4 or f2-f4, while black fights to maintain control of d4. The hole on d4 is “cancelled out” by black’s awkward pawn on b6, which blocks his own DSB.
luke623

Hmm. I looked into that line and it doesn't seem very offbeat if you ask me. 3.e4 is the most played move in that position, according to database.chessbase.com happy.png. But the entire idea is very interesting. After 3...e5 the position leads into a Botvinnik Structure, which I can handle, but what about 3...e6? 4.d4 just transposes back into the English Defense, and I can't continue just playing the position like a Botvinnik since the center isn't closed.

ThrillerFan
luke623 wrote:

I am an 18-1900 player (I fluctuate between the two) who plays the English Opening (1.c4). Recently I've had some troubles with the moves 1...b6 and 1...c6.

The problem after 1...b6 is the line in which Black exchanges his bishop for my knight early. I am okay playing a Hedgehog, but I never achieve that sort of position and instead end up in a slightly annoying position after 1.c4 b6 2.Nf3 Bb7 3.g3 Bxf3 4.exf3. Should I just play that position, or should I play into the English Defense (1.c4 b6 2.d4)?

The other move I don't know how to deal with is 1...c6. I am happy to meet 1...e6 with a Catalan so long as I can avoid the bishop check variation, Thus, I hold off playing d4 for a while. However, when I try to play a Catalan against 1...c6, Black gets his light squared bishop out to f5, which I find annoying. In addition, I try to avoid simply "playing an English" due to the capture on c4, which is much more aggravating than after 1..e6. Basically after 1.c4 e6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 dxc4 I can play 4.Qa4 and regain the pawn easily. However, after 1.c4 c6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg3 dxc4, 4.Qa4 does not work. So I don't know what to do against 1...c6. 

Thanks

If you do not want to directly transpose to the English Defense, then the Two Pawn Attack is best (2.Nc3 and 3.e4), but there is a ton theory.  I would suggest the line that gives the English Defense the most problems and that is 2.d4 e6 3.a3 or 2.d4 Bb7 3.Nc3 e6 4.a3.

 

As far as 1...c6, the Catalan is not an option.  There is some theoretical fianchetto line against the Slav, but the whole point of the Catalan is just like the Colle.  Bishop for Black is inside the pawn chain.  Learn a line of the Slav.  Dutch Variation, Central Variation, Slow Slav, or Exchange Variation.

WeakBish

I play 1. c4 about 90 percent of the time as white and i enjoy when my open gives up their LSB during the opening as shown in diagram 1.  I begin advancing on the Queen-side and use my LSB to control the long diagonal unopposed . As for Diagram 2, I also find this position annoying. Usually I will go against opening principle and attack the LSB with Nh4 before castling and if b4 threatening to exchange LSBs then f3 and my opponent is forced to give up the LSB. 

luke623

Okay, I should probably play the Slav after 1...c6 since it's Slav or the English lines suggested by Marin (which I don't like). Yet to decide on what to do against 1...b6. The main thing is that there aren't that many plans and they are hard to carry out, especially with the awkward development of my queenside. Meanwhile Black has clear plans and fluid development.

 

OldPatzerMike

If you're comfortable with IQP positions, after 1...c6 you could play 2. e4. If 2...d5, you can transpose to the Panov-Botvinnik Attack with 3. exd5 cxd5 4. d4. After any move other than 2...d5, it seems that the c6 pawn is somewhat in the way of normal development for Black.

Against 1...b6, I am relatively clueless, as I've only just started playing 1. c4 and have only glanced at the treatment of it in Carsten Hansen's book. If I ever encounter it OTB, my inclination will be to play 2. Nc3 and 3. e4. If slaughtered, I will then look more closely at alternatives.

melvinbluestone

   If you really don't want to part with your g1 knight after 1...b6, just play 2.Nc6. Then, after just about any move black makes, you can play 3.e4.

        There's a funny line that goes 1.c4 b6 2.Nc3 Bb7 3.e4 Nf6 4.e5 Ne4 5.Qf3. It's lots of fun in blitz.

 

luke623
After reading some of your helpful comments, I decided to learn the Slav real quick before a tournament (Exchange Variation, to avoid theory and be extra annoying to Slav players happy.png), but then this happened:
 

So much for Slav. I know I got clapped (I was playing someone 150 points above me) but my question is this: Is there anyway to avoid the position seen here (taking on d4 without being able to play Qa4 check) while also avoiding the bishop check variation of the Catalan? If I played 5.d4 then 5...dxc4 wouldn't bother me much, but then I run into 5...Bb4, which I find annoying. 

Tanks

ThrillerFan

White can transpose to the Closed Catalan with 5.Qc2 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.d4

luke623

Mmmmm. It does. And dxc4 is met with Qxc4 which just transposes into the Qa4 check line.

People on chess.com are 9000iq. Thanks