The English Opening is where White plays 1.c4 as the first move. It is a positional and less commonly seen opening. Both e4 and d4 are much more popular. Nevertheless, it is a solid opening and well-respected. There are also some anti-English and Indian-Like systems for Black against the English.
Diagram: English Opening
Black replies include:
- 1..Nf6 (Indian-Like)
- 1..e5 (Reverse Sicilian)
For more ideas for Black against the English, see: Anti-English Openings.
Indian-Like Defences for Black
Diagram: Indian-Like Defences (English Opening)
Indian-Like Defences (1..Nf6) This aims for setups similar to the various Indian Defences against d4, and indeed may transpose if White chooses to play 2.d4 immediately or later in the game.
Various sub-variations of the Indian-Like Defences include:
Many of these lines will transpose to the proper lines of these defences if White chooses to play d4 at some point.
Reverse Sicilian Systems for Black
Diagram: Reverse Sicilian (English Opening)
Reverse Sicilian (1..e5) This setup immediately looks like a Reverse Sicilian Defence, where White can try all of the various different types of Sicilian setups. This can become a Reverse Grand Prix Attack if Black plays ..d6 and ..f5, which has become a popular anti-English opening.
Symmetrical Black Systems
Diagram: Symmetrical Line (English Opening)
Symmetrical English (1..c5) Black can also copy White giving the Symmetrical English Variation. There are numeorus sub-variations of the symmetrical lines, including:
Transpositions: the English Opening will often transpose into a Reti Opening (1.Nf3) or a similar system involving g3 and Bg2 (Modern Attack). The positional goal of all these opening setups is pressure on the White squares down the diagonal.
Queen Pawn Opening Transposition: Another important aspect of this opening is the possible transposition into a Queen Pawn Opening, where White has simply re-ordered the two moves: d4 and c4. For example, if Black plays 1..d6 then if White plays 2.d4 it looks like Black has been tricked into playing an Old Indian Defence (or a Philidor or Pirc if Black allows White to play e4). Similarly, after 1. c4 Nf6 White can play 2.d4 with a common Queen pawn position with many possible Black defences possible. Hence, a lot of replies to 1.c4 will aim to inhibit Whites 2.d4, such as if Black plays 1 e5 or 1 c5.
Diagram: Beginners Line: White plays 1.c4 and 2.e4 (English Opening)
Beginners often want to play both c4 and e4, which is possible against either 1..c5 or 1..e5. For example, with the move order like 1.c4 c5, 2.e4!?. However, such a position is not well-regarded because of the weakness it creates on the d4 square. But it is playable at a club level. In some lines, it may become a Maroczy Bind, which is a playable but not particularly strong anti-Sicilian line.
Other Types of English Opening
It is worth noting that the English Opening (1.c4) is not the only England-originated chess opening. Some of the other opening systems with an English heritage include:
- London system
- London attack
- Grand Prix Attack (named after its popularity in the British Chess Grand Prix).
Related Chess Openings Topics
Read more about these related chess openings, strategies, chess puzzles, and other chess topics: