Complete Repertoire for White after 1.c4 e5 2.g3 - Part 1
The English Opening has always been one of White's most fundamental choices. You will hardly find a top-level player who does not have this opening in his repertoire. Nowadays, in our computer-driven era, English Opening is getting even more popular. The reason is that it is by no means simple for the opponent to prepare against 1.c4. Since the pawn structure is very flexible, we have a wide range of options on every move. Therefore, in most of the lines, general understanding tends to be more important than knowledge of concrete lines.
One of the most critical responses to 1.c4 is 1...e5. Black immediately grabs space in the centre and obtains a Sicilian position with colours reversed. In this database, GM Roiz starts building a complete repertoire against 1...e5. His repertoire is based on 1.c4 e5 2.g3
This is maybe the most flexible choice. White does not clarify the position of his central pawns. Also, in many lines, he delays the move Nc3. As it usually happens in Sicilian positions, the g2-bishop will support the queenside play.
Black has a wide choice at this point. The current database deals with the modern main lines - 2...Nf6 & 3...d5, 2...Nf6 & 3...Bc5, 2...Nf6 & 3...c6, and 2...c6.
The material is structured in the following way:
- Overview of 10 most important typical positions
- 10 theoretical chapters with "Key Ideas" section attached to each one of them
- 10 interactive test positions
10 Most Important Typical Positions
This section is very important for your general understanding of the English Opening. Make sure to read it before proceeding with the theoretical part of the database.
The author provides an overview of the 10 most important typical positions.
Let's take a look at 2 of them.
Typical Position 1
This is one of the typical structures for the variation. Due to the g2-bishop, Black cannot easily advance his queenside majority. On the other hand, White's central pawns are mobile. White's plan is simple. After installing the knight on c5, he will start advancing the central pawns ("f" and "e"). This structure is particularly favourable for White when the queens are on the board. The reason is that the advance of the central pawns will weaken Black's king (due to the pawn contacts e2-e4-e5-e6 or f2-f4-f5-f6). As GM Iossif Dorfman often says, when we have mobile pawns in the centre, the opponent's king is potentially weak. In this position, White should play Na4 followed by the ideas mentioned in the previous comment.
Typical Position 2
This is another very important type of position that you must understand before start playing 1.c4. There are several key factors which influence the evaluation of the position:
1) semi-open c-file
2) semi-open d-file
5) pressure along the diagonal h1-a8
6) bishop pair
Once again, I would like to mention the ideas of Dorfman which were described in his Method in Chess. He states that outposts are placed on the semi-open files in the camp of our opponent. According to this definition, White's outpost is the c5-square while Black has an outpost on d4. Each player tries to prove that his outpost is more important. White's typical idea would be Rc1 followed by Ne4-c5, thus putting pressure along the c-file and increasing the pressure along the long diagonal. Later on, White can further increase the positional grip by playing Qd2, Rc2, Rfc1, and eventually b3-b4-b5. On the other hand, Black would like to play ...Nd4 followed by ...c7-c6, restricting the g2-bishop and reducing the pressure along the c-file. In the concrete position, however, this idea is not realistic because of the vulnerable b7-pawn.
The other 8 typical positions are explained in the same way.
The theoretical part consists of 10 chapters. As pointed out in the introduction, before each chapter, the author explains the most important key ideas in this chapter.
Chapter 1 - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0-0 Be7
In the given move order, the natural 6...Be7 turns out to be dubious since White follows with 7.d4!. This is the main idea behind delaying the move Nc3. White strikes in the centre. Black has two options: To exchange on d4 and play a passive position or to push 7...e4. The main line goes 7...e4 8.Ne5 f5 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Qc2
White's position is undoubtedly better. Black's doubled pawns are long-term weaknesses. White's plan is to put pressure on them and to open the centre with f2-f3 in an appropriate moment.
Chapter 2 - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0-0 Nb6 & 7...Bd6
The early retreat of the knight is aimed at neutralizing the thematic d2-d4. It isn't really a concession, since after 7.Nc3 Be7 we reach the main theoretical line. At this point, Roiz suggests 7.b3. The idea is to put pressure on e5 by means of Bb2. We see another benefit of delaying Nc3. In order to protect the e5-pawn, Black will have to make some kind of concession. The current chapter deals with 7...Bd6.
By choosing this spot for the dark-squared bishop, Black saves a tempo, since the e5-pawn is covered now. On the other hand, it reduces Black's control of d4 and invites White's knight to attack the bishop at some point. At this point, White should play 9.Nc3. The knight can head to either b5 or e4 to exchange the important Bd6. As always, White keeps d2-d4 as an option. In this position, Roiz deals with four different moves for Black - 9...Bg4, 9...f5, 9...Qe7, and 9...Re8. It seems, however, that White keeps slightly better chances in all the lines.
Chapter 3 - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0-0 Nb6 & 7...Be6
Quite an ambitious concept: Black first develops his queenside pieces in order to keep the option of 0-0-0 available. White should play very energetically in order not to find himself under a dangerous kingside attack. The main line goes 8.Bb2 f6 9.Nc3 Qd7 10.Rc1
White is planning to continue with Qc2 and Rfd1. Afterwards, depending on Black's strategy, he will play either d2-d4 or Ne4-c5. Sometimes, these ideas would be combined. Since the arising positions are very concrete, precision is required. In his analysis, the author demonstrates that White keeps an upper hand in all the lines.
Chapter 4 - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0-0 Nb6 & 7...Be7
This is Black's most common choice in practice. The main line follows with 8.Bb2 f6 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Rc1
It is important to understand what White wants to do in this variation.
1. One of the most common plans is: Ne4-c5 putting some pressure on the queenside.
2. The other idea is d2-d4
3. White plays Qc2 followed by Rd1 and d2-d4
At this point, Roiz deals with several continuations for Black - 10...Be6, 10...a5, 10...Bf5, and 10...Bg4. It seems that in all cases White can create at least practical problems.
Chapter 5 - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0-0 Nb6 & 7...g6
7...g6 is rare, but the ambitious setup. Naturally, Black wants to neutralize the pressure along the a1-h8 diagonal. At this point, Roiz suggests 8.Nc3. A flexible move. White reasonably assumes that Black's bishop will be developed to g7 in any case, so his dark-squared bishop may be located well on a3. Further analysis shows that Black's attempts to neutralize the pressure along the diagonal a3-f8 lead to positional concessions. With a precise play, White keeps an edge in this line.
Chapter 6 - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bc5 4.Nc3 0-0
Black has completed the development and enjoys a good central control. If allowed, he is planning to follow with ...c7-c6 and ...d7-d5. The c5-bishop, however, turns out to be vulnerable in some lines. Therefore, White should opt for plans based on e2-e3 and d2-d4. Roiz suggests 5.Nf3 after which Black should decide how to protect the e5-pawn. The author discusses four continuations - 5...Re8, 5...d6, 5...e4, and 5...Nc6. His conclusion is that none of these moves manages to completely solve Black's problems.
Chapter 7 - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bc5 4.Nc3 c6
This way of handling the position has been known for more than a century, but it only gained popularity in recent years. Like in most cases where Black plays c7-c6, his main idea is to build up a strong pawn centre and restrict White's light-squared bishop. There are also undeniable merits of placing the bishop on c5: White cannot go for an early d2-d4 or place his knight on d4 (like it often happens after 2...c6 or 3. ..c6).
In this position, the author suggests 5.Nf3 e4 6.Nh4
Obviously the Nh4 is in danger. However, Black has to expose his king to trap it. On the other hand, White starts undermining Black's centre. Black can't keep his central pawns. Therefore he needs to seek some active counterplay. There are three main replies: 8...Bb4, 8...exd3, and 8...Ng4. It seems that White is in good shape in the arising complicated positions.
Chapter 8 - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.Nf3 e4 5.Nd4 d5 6.cxd5 Qxd5
A double-edged decision. Black recaptures the pawn with a tempo, after which any retreat of White's knight would be a concession. On the flipside, the Qd5 is clearly misplaced, so Black will have to spend another tempo to move it again. White's main move is 7.e3 preparing to destroy Black's centre by means of Nc3 followed by d2-d3. Black has a bunch of options in this position. A very important point is that the main line 7...Qe5 will be countered with 8.d3 exd3 9.Nd2!. White is exploiting his lead in development. We will take the pawn on d3 later.
Chapter 9 - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.Nf3 e4 5.Nd4 - Ideas with ...Qb6
In this chapter, Roiz examines different ideas related to the move ...Qb6. It is important to point out that ...Qb6 can be played before or after ...d7-d5. Regardless of the exact move order, Black's strategy is similar. When the white knight is forced back to b3, Black increases the pressure by playing ...a7-a5 with the idea of ...a5-a4. In such cases, White usually strikes in the centre by means of d2-d3, thus vacating the d2-square for the knight. Detailed analysis shows that Black's initiative is of a temporary character. After neutralizing Black's immediate threats, White usually enjoys a long-term positional advantage.
Chapter 10 - 1.c4 e5 2.g3 c6
This is one of the most ambitious responses. Black uses the fact that none of White's knights is developed yet, so it is easier to expand in the centre. The main position is being reached after 3.Nf3 e4 4.Nd4 d5 5.cxd5 Qxd5
Now Roiz suggests a different setup. The move 6. e3 is still possible. Then after 6...Nf6 7.Bg2 we will transpose to the previous chapter, but Black has a strong reply 6...Bc5! which seems to solve the problems. Instead, he suggests 6.Nc2.
White's plan is similar to the one which we saw before: Bg2, Nc3, d3, etc..., but in this line, we have an extra option to play Ne3 followed by Qc2, thus putting pressure on e4. The arising positions are very interesting. Roiz provides in-depth analysis and provides a bunch of fresh ideas.
At the end of the database, you will find a test section which includes 10 interactive test positions. Below, you can find 3 of them.