Is the English opening good?


I mean at our level, is it good? I hvae Mihail Marin's three part book on the English and I am thinking of going through it.


I love the opening, and have used it since i was a beginner.


yeah it's pretty awesome. i like the queen side play.


IM John Donaldson referred to spending "several hundred hours mastering this material".

"... [Grandmaster Repertoire 3: The English Opening, Vol. 1] is for players who are very serious about their chess; I would say those with a rating of 2200 up to around grandmaster level. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen

"... There are many explanations in terms of evaluations, strategical ideas, and so on, which makes the book accessible to a wider audience. But in all honesty, very few lower-rated players will be able to get a full grasp of the depth and the complexities in the lines covered [in Grandmaster Repertoire 4: The English Opening, Vol. 2]. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen

pdve wrote:

yeah it's pretty awesome. i like the queen side play.

I like its ease, and flexibility.  You can play on either side of the board, and doesnt require a lot of memorization/theory.


it's good for bullet too.


 One interesting line line is to play an exchange sac with 1. g4 d5 2. Bg2 Bxg4 3.c4 dxc4!? 4. Bxb7 Nd7 5. Bxa8 Qxa8 with unbalanced play.


"In the introduction [to The English: Move by Move], Giddins writes, '... The English tends to be an opening where understanding is more important than theoretical knowledge, and this often makes it a favourite with more experienced players, who lack the time, energy or inclination to swot up on sharp theoretical variations, and prefer to lure their opponents into relatively quiet, strategical positions, where their own greater experience will turn the battle in their favour.' ... despite the author's neat words about specific variation knowledge being less important in the English than in other more forcing lines, there are still umpteen lines that need to be understood and deciphered, and move orders to be memorized and comprehended. One needs to know why one move order prevents certain variations, while another move order allows your opponent extra opportunities, etc. ..." - FM Carsten Hansen


A student of mine started playing the English not long ago - and having to play against it made me realize how troublesome it can be to defend against, especially if you don't want to transpose into a form of the Queen's Gambit Declined.  Like the Reti Opening (which I play most often, and which involves playing c4 on move 2), you stake out space on the queenside, and gain flexibility in terms of the deployment of your queenside pieces.


How good the English is depends on the player.


Are you trying to use it as a "System" or a "Legitimate Opening"?


In other words, if your goal is to close your eyes and say "I will play 1.c4, 2.g3, 3.Bg2, and 4.Nc3, ignoring what Black does, then open my eyes and play chess, then the system is total Cr&P!


For example, 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6, not 3.Bg2 is not good.  If Black plays the waiting move ...Nc6 at any point, White should reply with the waiting move Nc3.  After 3.Bg2?! f5! 4.Bg2 Nf6 and White has NADA.  Instead, 3.Nc3 and now if 3...f5, then 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.d4! and White has a small advantage!


A willingness to transpose to certain QP openings are also a necessity!  The King's Indian Defense probably leads that list.  As for Queen's Gambit lines, you still can't play the English.  It's transpose to QP Openings or play a Reti!  For example, most of what Marin covers in Volume 2 of his 3-book set is actually a Reti, not an English.



Another example of a bad line that many of those that close their eyes try to play is the Botvinnik Setup against everything!  That doesn't work either!


1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.e4 d6 is perfectly fine for White!

1.c4 c5 2.g3 Nc3 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.e4 d6 is NOT perfectly fine for White!  The fact that the Bishop on g7 is open makes a major difference and Black already has full equality at worst!



So again, if one is putting in the true work to understand the English as a complete opening and not fearing potential transpositions to openings like the Fianchetto King's Indian or Queen's Gambit Declined or Reti Open, then yes, the English is a strong opening.


If instead, your goal is to use it as a "system" to take a lazy approach and think you can close your eyes and play this and this and this and this and this before you even look to see what Black did, then the answer is no - it's a piece of cr&p as there are many lines that are no good, such as 3.Bg2 against the early ...Nc6 lines or the Botvinnik Setup against the Symmterical Variation.