Understand the English Hedgehog - Part 1

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We cannot argue about the fact that the Hedgehog system (be it in the Sicilian or in the English opening) is one of the most paradoxical. It may appear that Black is playing awfully timidly, mainly aiming at defending on three ranks only. But this impression is false. In most cases, Black intends to outplay his opponent in the (possibly late) middlegame, by avoiding early exchanges and forced variations. White cannot convert his space advantage into something concrete that easily, while Black has several plans to create counterplay at his disposal. Among his main resources I would quote the pawn breaks ...b6-b5, ...d6-d5, ...e6-e5 (the latter usually with a white pawn on f4) or, if White refrains from e2-e4, a massive kingside expansion.
All these plans need separate investigation, even though they sometimes interfere. The first article deals with ...b6-b5.
Since White's normal development involves having knights on d4 and c3, this plan requires thorough preparation. One way or another, by creating minor threats against White's slightly over-extended position, Black could "convince" one of the knights to retreat, when his plan would become more realistic.

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