How To Play English Chess Opening? Read Here


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Chess is a board game that inspires a lot of mental activity to sharpen the brain and our strategic and memory skills. It is a game that has been around and celebrated through generations. It invites various forms of game skills, tactics, and strategies.

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One such incredible opening strategy is used in English chess and today we will talk about how to play English chess along with the English opening books and setting traps. For the purposes of keeping it simple, we will consider the player with the white pieces but the skills are transferable to the black pieces as well. So, let’s take a look.

Origin of the English opening

The English chess opening starts with askew moves wherein you play the pawn on C2 instead of the central ones on D2 or E2.

The first person to ever successfully play these English opening traps was Howard Stauton back in the 1840s. It was his slow-moving strategy that was later improvised for several chess openings, making ‘How to play English chess’ such a purposeful and popular strategy.

The English opening traps use precisely designed strategic moves to open up the board slowly for attack without being too aggressive. As the game progresses, the person employing the English chess strategy has better control over the game board.

‘How to play English chess’ became a search on demand for anyone who is interested in playing the game for accolades. The English chess strategy is so effective that Fabiano Caruana successfully used it in a game against the renowned world champion Vishwanath Anand and defeated him. Ever since then, people have wanted to know how to play English chess and implement this useful strategy.

Characteristics of the English opening

The English chess opening does have a few distinct characteristics that you need to know. Since the gameplay is heavily reliant on a balanced combination of offensive and defensive strategies, you need to know the characteristics of these moves once you have a basic understanding of how to play English chess. Here’s what you need to know:

  • It utilizes a flak move instead of the ordinary central moves.
  • It is more advantageous for the player with the white pieces.
  • The player with the white pieces does not take control of the center with their pawns. Instead, they open up higher-value pieces from the second line of defense.
  • The English chess gameplay uses a slow strategy to create a viable defense and offensive structure.
  • The English opening traps allow the white pieces to quickly unleash the bishops but they don’t go on the offense for a long period of time till the game board is set up for attack.
  • It uses a very well-thought strategy to build an attack with time rather than going on the offensive from the get-go. If you want to know how to play English chess, start with developing a defined motif from the first move.
  • As per the English opening books, the English chess strategies involve a lot of theoretical understanding of the gameplay and characters on the board. Contrary to other popular opening moves though, the English opening traps seem less forceful thus facilitating the use of good character spreads.
  • The English opening traps use the strategic advantage of moving the pawn on C2 to C4 instead of D2 or E2 to their 4th line.
  • The English opening traps pave the way for more complicated strategies and tactics.

If you are looking for books or articles on how to play chess for beginners in English, we strongly suggest you take some time to learn how to play English chess. It is a very useful, not to mention dynamic strategy that any chess enthusiast ought to know.

How to play English chess with the perfect opening

The English chess opening traps start from the time you move the pawn on C2 to C4. All the subsequent moves that you will devise with a good strategy and alternate between established chess tactics are all predicated by this one English chess move.

Here’s how you can initiate the English opening traps in chess:

  • Start by moving the pawn on C2 to the C4 position.
How to play English chess with the perfect opening
  • During the next move, jump your knight from B1 to C3.
How to play English chess with the perfect opening
  • Now move the pawn on D2 to D4.
How to play English chess with the perfect opening

You can jump the knight on G1 to F6 in the second step to alter the strategy to a Queen’s gambit. This will create a path to move the bishop on F1 so you can Castle your king.

Keep in mind that the player with the black pieces will start playing a defensive game or go on the offense at some point since their usual positions are threatened from the get-go. Don’t sway from the starting moves because they set you up to capture the central positions on the board with your major pieces.

Strategy in the opening moves of how to play English chess

The English opening books explain that theoretically, the white pieces must move in a systematic order right after moving the pawn from C2 to C4. However, you can devise your own effective strategies for how to play English chess and implement different moves.

Here are a few useful strategic moves that you could try in the English opening traps:

  1. The player with the white pieces starts by advancing the pawn to C4, thus taking control of the D5 and B5 squares. Now, the black pieces have an option to go asymmetric by playing E5 or F5. They can also go for Symmetric English by playing C5.
  2. Now, you can move the knight, which is a possible and favored move among English chess players. However, you can also switch to the strategy used by grandmasters wherein you push the D-pawn to D4. Ideally, if the black pieces played a Symmetrical English chess move, this could subdue them. It is an aggressive strategy against the symmetrical move to prevent a draw.
  3. You can also move the B and D-pawns to the B3 or D3 instead. Ideally, place one of them in the flank for C4 and play the other as a parallel move beside C4 to transpose into another strategy.
  4. Instead of releasing the knight from B1, move the pawn on G2 to G3. In the next move, you can move the knight on G1 to F3.
  5. Liberate the bishop on F1 but keep it in flank for the knight. Now your king is open for Castling and all your important players are open to being moved yet shielded from attack.
  6. You can also disregard the theoretical aspirations for these moves and focus on creating a defensive strategy by flanking all the pawns and knights, then liberating the Queen and bishops.
  7. Keep the rooks behind a line of defense to guard the king.

These are some useful strategic moves that you can make while employing the English opening traps. Once you get a hang of how to play English chess, you can simply alternate your moves to ease into the Queen’s Gambit Declined, Reverse Sicilian, etc.

The important thing to remember when playing English chess is to make it effortlessly comfortable. If you make forced moves, it will defeat the purpose of creating a slow strategy, which is what English chess is all about. Make a plan beforehand and respond with well-thought-out moves when flanking and creating your defensive line before you launch an attack on your opponent’s pieces.

Key ideas in the opening of how to play English chess

As we have mentioned, the idea behind utilizing the English opening traps is to ensure that you advance slowly towards an attack rather than going on the offensive. The player with the white pieces has the most vantage point when using this English chess strategy that they can implement to unleash the main warriors rather than playing with the pawns.

Here are the key ideas for why you should know how to play English chess:

  • It is a hypermodern opening approach that provides a tactical advantage over your opponent.
  • The English chess moves have led to the most number of wins as per the English opening books.
  • It is a beneficial strategy for alternative play, especially for players who usually use the pawns on D2 and E2. The English chess opening allows them to start from a different point to see how well they can take control of the board.
  • The player with the white pieces gets an edge over the player with the black pieces simply because the center of the board is dominated by pieces from the white army. They have the pawn on C4 thus taking control of the D5 slot, which happens to be a common move for most players.
  • The English chess opening discourages the black pieces from using the Queen’s Gambit Declined or Grunfeld defense.
  • The key pieces of either troop seldom come in contact during the English opening trap to be eliminated. This facilitates slow gameplay and some time to develop a strategy for war before any attack ensues from either player.
  • If you know how to play English chess, you are prepared for alternative strategies, mixing up new strategies, and developing open strategies during gameplay. English chess creates leeway for other chess tactics to come into play.
  • It has a tendency to confuse the opponent since the attacks are indirect. Thus, you will find a lot of useful captures once you set up your English opening traps.

The key ideas of the English chess game have inspired the top names in chess to use this strategy in crucial games. Fabiano Caruana used it against Vishwanath Anand, Garry Kasparov used it against Anatoly Karpov, Bobby Fischer used it against Boris Spassky, and the list goes on.

Knowing how to play English chess is a useful trick in your arsenal regardless of whether you play a friendly match at home or partake in world championship chess tournaments.

Major variations of white and black moves in the English opening traps

There are major variations of how to play English chess and set the English opening traps. For the most part, these variations are a result of alternative or responsive gameplay used to circumvent the English chess strategy. The white and black pieces move differently thus providing an outlet for the main players from the second row of defense to make early appearances.

Here are a few major variations of the English opening traps:

  • The Dragon or Reversed Sicilian

The colors appear to be in reverse as compared to the Sicilian Defense strategy, however, the English chess openings offer progressive play. In the English opening traps, white moves an extra slot thus putting the black pieces at a disadvantage.

Every move in this variation of English chess is crucial so both players need to analyze the board for open threats. The player with white pieces has an advantage since the black pieces will rarely play sharp, double-edged continuation moves.

  • The Symmetrical English

This is a defensive English chess strategy wherein the player with the black pieces can mirror the movements of the white pieces, thus resulting in a symmetrical advantage.

Both players progressively release their knights and Castle their kings at the early stages, which means both Kings are safely out of harm’s way. This strategy allows both the black and white pieces to take control over the center of the board with major soldiers from their troops, including releasing the bishops, rooks, and most importantly, the Queen.

The tactical advantage of this game is that it usually leads to a draw since both players keep capturing and defending in the same exact pattern.

There are more variations such as using the King’s Indian strategy, the Queen’s gambit, The Slav, and the Dutch setup. These strategies have been used as an alternative to transposing the pieces to befit several other opening strategies. If you are learning how to play chess for beginners in English, you can start with how to play English chess and move on to identify these useful alternatives and variations to English chess.

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