[Event ""] [White "Introduction"] [Black ""] [Site ""] [Round ""] [Annotator "S. Williams & R. Palliser"] [Result "*"] [Date ""] [PlyCount "11"] 1. c4 {Welcome to the world of the English Opening! It's an opening which can be traced right back to that great English player of the Victorian era, Howard Staunton. Wherever possible we'll also be looking to put to good use a set-up within the English favoured by the legendary fifth world champion, 'the Patriarch', Mikhail Botvinnik. --- The world hasn't been an amazing place of late, but lockdown allowed time for plenty of filming, streaming...and internet blitz. Simon even did a spot of a chess work for himself, realising that while some of his old favourites were in need of an overhaul, they were very much still as dangerous as back when he first started playing them many years ago. --- In recent years Simon has played a lot of 1 d4, but he will most certainly once again be employing his old love, the English, a fair bit more from now on. Let's see why!} e5 {Black's main move.} ({Play transposes after} 1... Nf6 2. Nc3 {if Black now pushes his e-pawn two squares, but a very popular alternative is} g6 {, going for a King's Indian-style set-up. We too have our own favourite set-up and the Botvinnik is very handy for countering the King's Indian, which remains an extremely popular choice at club level:} 3. g3 Bg7 (3... d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 {would be Grünfeldy, but} 5. Bg2 {is quite dangerous; White can even deploy one of our favourite early advances, pushing Harry!} )4. Bg2 O-O $1 5. e4 d6 6. Nge2 e5 7. d3 {. This is the Botvinnik set-up, giving White a firm central grip and control over d5. White will castle next and may then aim to cramp Black with a quick f4-f5.} )({An important and super-solid alternative for Black is} 1... c5 {, the Symmetrical English. Here too we can aim for our favourite set-up:} 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. e4 Nf6 6. Nge2 O-O 7. O-O d6 8. d3 {. This position can come about via a great many move orders, including a King's Indian one, but once again White's central grip is obvious to the eye. Key pawn levers to bear in mind are f4-f5, b4 and d4.} )({After} 1... Nf6 2. Nc3 {Black can be a little annoying with} c5 (2... e6 {is another important line, beloved of Nimzo-Indian players, but we don't have to allow their fun and can go} 3. e4 {, the dangerous Mikenas Attack} )3. g3 d5 {, which denies us a Botvinnik set-up, but after} 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 {it's hard to complain about White's lovely bishop. Just look at that bishop on g2 swooping down the long light-square diagonal!} )({We'll also look at a few tricky initial moves, including Simon's old favourite,} 1... f5 {, as well as 1...b6, 1...c6 and especially 1...e6, all of which aim to deny us our Botvinnik formation, but do little to prevent a quick e4 from White.} )2. Nc3 Nf6 (2... Bb4 {is a creative line and can lead to some very fun positions after} 3. Nd5 {.} ({It's also possible to go} 3. g3 Bxc3 4. bxc3 d6 5. Bg2 {when, yes, you guessed it, a Botvinnik formation is on the cards, but our recommendation is actually 3 e4!?, mirroring our main line below.} ))({Instead,} 2... Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. e4 {sees our ideal set-up once again in action. Black doesn't have to go King's Indian style with} d6 6. Nge2 Nf6 {here, but in any case White has his central grip and may break with f4.} )3. g3 Bb4 ({A big alternative is} 3... d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nb6 { when we're suggesting that White avoids the main lines of the reversed Dragon with} 6. e3 {, again bringing the king's knight to its favourite English square, e2. The resulting positions are relatively unexplored, but certainly dynamic – and fun! Not only may White break with d4, but also f4.} )4. e4 $5 { This idea championed by the champ himself, Magnus Carlsen, is likely to surprise your opponent and is actually a pretty decent choice. Once again, a Botvinnik set-up is White's plan and} Bxc3 5. dxc3 Nxe4 6. Qg4 {doesn't win a pawn due to 6 Qg4, hitting the knight and g7. --- Before we get to tackle this line and all Black's possibilities in detail, it's time to learn some of White's key ideas. Read on!} (6. -- {Richard Palliser, York, October 2020} )*