Ambitious Repertoire against the English Opening
We are happy to announce that IM Kushager Krishnater has created his first course for Modern Chess: Ambitious Repertoire against the English Opening.
Getting into a complex position with decent winning chances is always difficult when we face the English Opening. Usually, White is very flexible and plays with a huge safety margin. Another challenge is that white players usually know very well how to handle the seemingly equal middlegames that we often reach in the English Opening.
We are pleased to inform you that IM Krishnater has come up with a practical and creative solution. In this course, he suggests a full repertoire for Black based on 1.c4 e5. In almost all the variations, he suggests aggressive and yet almost unexplored ideas. The cornerstone of his philosophy is the fact that English Opening players tend to dislike complex and imbalanced positions.
The course consists of 12 theoretical chapters, 20 interactive test positions, a Memory Booster, and a Video Version (3h and 20min).
Preview by IM Kushager Krishnater
Hello and welcome to my first-ever course for Modern Chess! In this course, we will be examining 1.c4 e5 from Black. The objective of this course is to present a dynamic and fresh repertoire against the English. Players who usually play English Opening are looking for a positional game, so from a philosophical point of view, entering sharp & complex positions makes a lot of sense.
The starting position of the course is being reached after 1.c4 e5
The starting point of our repertoire. We will be going through all of White's major alternatives from this position. Let me introduce you to the two major systems for White here.
At the beginning of the course, I examined 2.g3. White wants to put the bishop on g2, where it is most actively placed. However, there are a couple of strategic drawbacks to this move. Firstly, White isn't actively fighting for the center. Secondly, the pawn on g3 can be a hook, which we can try to exploit with 2...h5
A very interesting and fresh practical try. We are anticipating Bg2, which we intend to meet by playing...h5-h4. These positions are very dynamic and complex, and it is not easy for your opponent to play without knowing. This is already a huge achievement when you face the English Opening.
Let me take you through some of White's options here. White's best move is 3.Nf3. This is also the best option, according to the computer. White develops a piece and stops... h5-h4.
The natural 3.Bg2 runs into 3...h4, giving Black great practical chances. We are looking to play d6-h3 next, posing uncomfortable questions to the g2-bishop, or hxg3, depending upon the situation.
Against the prophylactic 3.h3, I recommend going 3...d5 which is a better version of the traditional English Opening lines based on 2.g3 d5, as our bishop on c8 has sights on the h3-pawn.
In the case of the natural 3.Nc3, my suggestion is 3...h4 4.g4 d5!? which leads to some unconventional and complex positions.
After 3.Nf3, we immediately answer with 3...e4.
We gain space in the center and challenge White's knight. White's best option at this point is 4.Nh4.
The natural 4.Nd4 can be easily parried away with 4...Nc6 5.Nxc6 dxc6 Where Black already takes over the initiative due to the extra space in the center and the threat of h5-h4.
In response to 4.Nh4, I suggest 4...Be7.
Black is developing a piece and threatening to win a pawn. White has nothing better than the natural 5.Nf5. Another interesting line for White is 5.Nc3. If Black accepts the pawn sacrifice, White will open the position up with the advance d2-d3. In such a position, White's bishop pair will tell. Instead of taking the pawn, however, I suggest 5...c6, which leads to a complex fight with excellent counterplay for Black.
After 5.Nf5, I suggest 5...d6 6.Nxe7 Qxe7
The position is still sharp, But Black's play is natural and intuitive.
English Opening experts mostly prefer 2.Nc3.
White develops a knight and increases control over the d5-square. The advantage of this system is that White can be a bit more flexible, unlike 2.g3, where White has to commit the bishop to the g2-square.
At this point, I suggest 2...Nc6.
With his last move, Black is covering the d4-square. Our plan now is to gain space with f5, followed by g6-Bg7 and 0-0 in most of the cases. We would then want to use the extra space in the center to create chances of the kingside. I must say that this setup works very well against almost all setups in the English Opening.
White's main move at this point is 3.g3.
Another important position arises after 3.e3 f5 4.d4 Nf6
In this position, we intend to play Bb4 or d6-Bg7, based on what White plays.
The natural 3.Nf3 is met by 3...f5 4.d4 e4 where we have a lot of space in the center/kingside and keep healthy to attack White's kingside.
Let's continue with White's main move 3.g3. The first important position arises after 3...f5 4.Bg2 Nf6
This is an important English Opening tabiya, where White has several choices. First of all, he should decide whether to go for a setup based on d2-d3 or e2-e3 followed by d2-d4. The main move is 5.d3. White opens up the diagonal for the bishop and keeps flexibility between e3/e4.
Another common way of playing these positions is 5.e3 planning Nge2 followed by d2-d4. We can stay true to our setup and play 5...d6 6.Nge2 g6 7.d4 Bg7 8.0-0 0-0
Our usual plan in these positions is to play e4, gaining space and shutting down the bishop, followed by g5-Ne7-Ng6.
Let's now take a look at the interesting position arising after 5.d3 d6
We are ready to apply our favourite setup against the English Opening. Now, White faces a choice. The most natural move is 6.Nf3. Nevertheless, we shall discuss some alternatives.
The continuation 6.Rb1 is an interesting attempt. White delays Nf3 and wants to push b4-b5 very quickly. We meet this with 6...a5 7.a3 and now the novelty 7...Nd4.
Black is planning to follow with ...c7-c6 and ...Ne6, keeping excellent chances in the arising complex positions.
The most important sideline is 6.e4.
White wants to play Nge2-0-0-Nd5 next. The key position arises after 6...g6 7.Nge2 Bg7 8.0-0 f4!?
This move was tried in just one of 1300 games. Computer analysis shows that after 9.gxf4 Nh5, Black enjoys tremendous attacking prospects on the kingside.
Oneo of the most discussed English Opening positions arises after 6.Nf3 g6 7.0-0 Bg7 8.Rb1 a5 9.a3 0-0 10.b4 axb4 11.axb4
At this point, I recommend going for 11...Qe8 which is a rather rare move but a very strong one. We vacate the d8-square for the knight, intending Nd8-Ne6 and g5 at some point. Black keeps great dynamic chances.
About the Author
Kushager Krishnater is an International Master (IM) and FIDE Trainer (FT) from India. He earned the title of International Master in 2020 and became a FIDE Trainer in 2022. As a player, Kushager gained accolades for securing the Asian Youth U-18 Team Gold and a Commonwealth Junior Individual Bronze.
Widely regarded as a distinguished trainer, Kushager has mentored over 10 Grandmasters and International Masters. His prowess extends beyond training, as he is an adept theoretician, having served as a second to elite players such as GM Arjun Erigaisi and GM Vidit Gujarathi. Additionally, he holds the role of Chief Openings Coach for the Singapore National Team, contributing to their impressive tally of two Silver and two Bronze medals at the South East Asian Games in 2021. Notably, Kushager is the youngest person in the world to hold the title of FIDE Trainer.