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Best Defense Against English Opening

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AlxMaster

What is the best defense against 1. c4 ?

 

is it c5? e5? or Nf6?

Casual_Joe

They're all playable.  It depends on what system you want to play.  Nf6 is probably the most flexible, and might transpose into a QGD.  Supposedly e5 is a reverse Sicilian, but I'm not sure that the Sicilian ideas really carry over very well in a reverse setup.  c5 might be the most direct way to try to challenge the opening, but you have to be careful playing symmetrically because White can sometimes break the symmetry with advantage.

AlxMaster

Please note that my question is what is the BEST. Of course they are all playable, but which one is considered the best? Or at least most played amongst GMs?

gaereagdag

From my experiences playing on either side of the English and yes, I am no grandmaster to say the least, but I did win on the white side of 1.c4 c5 against a 1900 engine about 30 minutes ago, I will try to give a practical answer. In theory all of these replies are good against 1. c4. Also 1...c6 is another OK way to play.

1...e5 is the best practical response. One, it avoids the symmetrical lines that all English opening players like myself always like to see. Two, it it gives black the most "free, natural activity" out of all the options. The moves for black from then on are the most obvious ones. Whereas 1...c5 leads to some very shuffly, mark-time moves, especailly in the hedgehog set ups, where a human being will be playing moves as black that are unnatural to you unless you are a GM or an engine.

pdve
AlxMaster wrote:

What is the best defense against 1. c4 ?

 

is it c5? e5? or Nf6?

i tend to favor 1..c6

TwoMove

Usually the "best" is what fits with your 1.d4 defence. If against 1.d4 it is the KingsIndian it is particularly easy because, then the "best" defense against 1.c4 is playing the KingsIndian.

TwoMove

KingsIndian is very flexible opening, so people playing it generally don't care what white does in first few moves. In particular don't care if white takes the centre with d4, e4 which is generally more critical or not. In the english move order if white eventually plays d4, will transpose to KingsIndian. If they don't I will eventually play e5. The sort of closed english that results I choose to not play Nc6, so can play in centre in with c6, and d5. It was first described in a book by Greek GM called "Beating the Flank Openings". Yelena Dembo updated a few lines in her anti-kingsIndian book.

AlxMaster

Thank you for the answers, e5 sounds good.

chesskenabe

Since I am a Caro-kann defense player I like to play c6 followed by d5 trying to trade off into Caro-kann exchange variation. It opens the queenside, but it defends well enough against the formidable attack of the English Opening.

kiwi-inactive

I have also been informed 1.e5 is the best opening response to go with, many members earlier highlighted very briefly reasons for, I too agree. 

gaereagdag

Actually King's Indian set ups against 1.c4, where white keeps it as an English opening, i.e a d3 , c4, e4 set up as a "V" [there are other ways] rather than going into the KID, have a VERY bad reputation for black. I have played this black system in correspondence chess against 1.c4 and it is extremely easy, with natural looking moves for black, to end up with a position that is a total positional loss for black. In my opinion that is the WORST possible system that black could use against 1.c4

If you want a master level example of what can go wrong go to the game Bojkovic Onischuk. Onischuk won. Yes. But not so fast.

He should have lost.

Bojkovic missed a move that leaves Onischuk positionally lost. I know this because I played a correspondence game in the 90's where I followed Onischuk's moves as black. My opponent DID find what Bojkovic should have played. And hours of trying to find a good continuation for me from then on could not change the inexorable L column.

I am sure that Bojkovic Onischuk is on the net somewhere. I will leave it as an exercise for anyone who wants to look through it.

There is another approach against 1.c4 that isn't as bad as it looks. 1...F5 is interesting.

gaereagdag

Actually there is another system that I like against 1.c4

Play 1..Nf6 then 2...e6 and 3..d5

Not the most ambitious. But pretty solid. May transpose into Queen's pawn games or a NimzoIndian. So if you don;t like those that's worth thinking about.

skakmadurinn

1.e6 and then d5 is very good. If you play the slav defence 1.c6 is fine.

gaereagdag

As Roman says in a  video the English opening can only occur if both players want it; white cannnot stop black taking the game out of an English.

TwoMove

The Botvinnik setup is perfectly playable for white of course but black is in no way losing against it. Titled players like Dembo, Kotronias, and Bologan have written books for black using KingsIndian formation against it.  There are several different ways of playing it. Avoiding Nc6, and playing in centre already mentioned. Delaying Nf6, and playing e5, and f5 probably the most ambitous approach if black can get it. Bologan thinks an approach with Nc6,Nf6 and e5 is ok. Playing for c5 instead of e5.

TwoMove

The Marin books are very good, have them myself, and give good explanations. There is a fair amount of advertising for the opening though, and he has a mission to keep it english because that is what club players like. Objectively though can have better chances getting an opening advantage transposing to 1.d4 lines in some cases. For example, against KingsIndian probably playing g3 KingsIndian, which fits with his other choices, gives better changes for advantage.

iamdeafzed
AlxMaster wrote:

What is the best defense against 1. c4 ?

 

is it c5? e5? or Nf6?

I feel ya on this one. I've been looking for a system against English Openings for awhile now myself and to this day, I'm still not totally satisfied with what I'm using. My biggest problem has always been trying to create decent counterplay against an English.

That said, these days I've settled on a system of 1...e5, followed by Nf6, g6,Bg7 and O-O...like a King's Indian Defense setup, except playing e5 immediately instead of waiting for it on move 6. The master-level statistics for this setup (in the order I've described at any rate...) aren't particularly great for black, probably because (I'm guessing) it gives white an opportunity to strike with a timely d4 while black's developing his kingside, but...eh well, so far it's worked reasonably well for me.

And for the record, there's gotta be at least 10 different reasonable/playable replies to 1.c4, though many probably end up transposing to other common systems: 1...g6, 1...b6, 1...f5, 1...e5, 1...e6, 1...d6, 1...d5 (eh), 1...Nf6, 1...c5, 1...c6.

One nice thing about 1...f5 is that white, to my knowledge, can't really avoid this Duch Defense-like setup by black. Not everyone's fond of Dutch positions though, myself included.

binblaster

1. ...Nc6!

TwoMove

Is this the Bojkovic v Onischuk game refering to

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1242616

The e5, f5 setup is ambitious but risky for black. It can work well against lower rated players. The game itself seems pretty obscure, not sure why a model game for either side really.

The sounder line, more center based line with e5 is

1.c4 g6 2 Bg7 3g3 d6 4Bg2 Nf6 5e4 0.0 6Ng-e2 e5 There are a few move orders black can get here. Marin prefers 6...c5 for black because of that possibilty he prefers transposing to g3 KingsIndian with 5d4 in own games.

 

 After 70.0 Be6 8d3 Na6 9h3 Qd7 10Kh2 c6 11f4 h5 Marin suggested the TN 12Rf3 but I don't think it is too hard for black to face. The idea is that if black plays the normal h4, f5 followed by Qf1 is a problem but once black knows that Rf3 starts to look a bit strange.

njodidio542
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