English opening

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The English Opening is a chess opening for players with the white pieces. It has become the third most popular opening move, after 1.e4 and 1.d4. The opening was developed by the English master Howard Staunton, and played in his match against Saint-Amant.[1]p124

Variation 1
Start of chess board.
a8 black rook b8 __ c8 __ d8 black queen e8 __ f8 black rook g8 black king h8 __
a7 __ b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 __ e7 __ f7 black pawn g7 black bishop h7 __
a6 __ b6 __ c6 black knight d6 black pawn e6 black bishop f6 black knight g6 black pawn h6 black pawn
a5 __ b5 white pawn c5 __ d5 __ e5 black pawn f5 __ g5 __ h5 __
a4 __ b4 __ c4 white pawn d4 __ e4 __ f4 __ g4 __ h4 __
a3 __ b3 __ c3 white knight d3 white pawn e3 __ f3 white knight g3 white pawn h3 __
a2 __ b2 __ c2 __ d2 __ e2 white pawn f2 white pawn g2 white bishop h2 white pawn
a1 __ b1 white rook c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 __ f1 white rook g1 white king h1 __
End of chess board.
  • 1. c4

As a first move this may transpose back to a QP opening: 1.c4 Nf6 2.d4. That would not be an English opening. The English is a system of development, flexible but including some or all of these moves:

  1. QN to c3
  2. KB fianchettoed on g2
  3. KN to f3 or e2
  4. 0-0
  5. QP to d3
  6. R to b1 followed by b2-b4-b5
Variation 2
Start of chess board.
a8 black rook b8 __ c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black bishop g8 __ h8 black rook
a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 __ e7 __ f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn
a6 __ b6 __ c6 black knight d6 __ e6 __ f6 __ g6 __ h6 __
a5 __ b5 __ c5 __ d5 black knight e5 black pawn f5 __ g5 __ h5 __
a4 __ b4 __ c4 __ d4 __ e4 __ f4 __ g4 __ h4 __
a3 __ b3 __ c3 __ d3 white pawn e3 __ f3 white knight g3 white pawn h3 __
a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 __ d2 __ e2 white pawn f2 white pawn g2 white bishop h2 white pawn
a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 __ g1 __ h1 white rook
End of chess board.
Variation 3
Start of chess board.
a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black bishop g8 __ h8 black rook
a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 __ e7 __ f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn
a6 __ b6 __ c6 __ d6 __ e6 __ f6 black knight g6 __ h6 __
a5 __ b5 __ c5 __ d5 black pawn e5 white pawn f5 __ g5 __ h5 __
a4 __ b4 __ c4 __ d4 __ e4 __ f4 __ g4 __ h4 __
a3 __ b3 __ c3 white knight d3 __ e3 __ f3 __ g3 __ h3 __
a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 __ d2 white pawn e2 __ f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn
a1 white rook b1 __ c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 white knight h1 white rook
End of chess board.
  • Variation 1.

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.d3 d6 6.Nf3 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Rb1 a5 9.a3 h6 10.b4 axb4 11.axb4 Be6 12.b5 This sequence shows the system fully in operation. White operates in the centre and Q-side; Black operates more on the K-side.

  • Variation 2.

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.d3 This has the character of a Sicilian Defence reversed.

  • Variation 3.

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.e5 Here 5...d4, 5...Ne4 and 5...Nfd7 are most often played. This is a quite different line, where the two sides clash early in the centre. Since White does not have to play 3.e4, he could avoid this line.

Each of these lines has its own distinct character, and needs to be learnt by the player.

References[change | change source]

  1. Hooper D. and Whyld K. 1992. The Oxford companion to chess. Oxford.