The English Opening
general strategies for white and black in the lines for the English?
The English looks much like a Reversed Sicilian (1.c4 e5). There are many variations of the English,the Four Knight's (1.c4 e5 2.Nc2 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3) the Symmetrical (1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6), the Nimzo-English (1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6) the Hedgehog (1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0), Double Fianchetto and Rubinstein systems after 1.c4 c5, the Mikenas Attack (1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 and 3.Nf3 Bb4), & closed variations.
Malakhov (2670)-Nisipeanu (2707)
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0–0 Be7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.Bg5
This seems like the move of the day. I wonder how long it will be before attention moves elsewhere? Certainly 9.Bg5 obliges Black to be accurate, but as we have seen and as we will see later in this game, there is no objective reason for Black to feel too threatened.
9...a6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Qf4
Malakhov finds a different square for his Queen. The White position certainly looks less cluttered than after 11 Qd3, but I would be a little worried about 11...Bxc3.
11...Bxc3 has been played only rarely, perhaps thanks the influence of the following game, where Black never really got going: 12.bxc3 Bxf3 (Black’s problem is d6.) 13.Bxf3 Ra7 14.Rfd1 Rd7 15.Rab1 Qc7 16.Qd4! (He could not shore up all the weaknesses.) 16...0–0 17.Qxb6 Rc8 18.Qxc7 Rdxc7 19.Rxd6 Rxc4 20.Bb7 Rf8 21.Rb3 Ra4 22.a3 g6 23.Bf3 Rc4 24.Rdb6 Rcc8 25.Rb1 Kg7 26.a4 Nd7 27.Rxa6 Rxc3 28.Ra1 Ne5 29.Be4 Rfc8 30.a5 R8c4 31.f3 f5 32.Bb7 Rc1+ 33.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 34.Kf2 Ra1 35.Ra8 Ra2 36.a6 Nd3+ 37.Ke3 Nc5 38.Kd4 Rc2 39.Re8 Nb3+ 40.Ke3 Ra2 41.Rxe6, 1–0, Kramnik-Ljubojevic, Monaco 1998.
12.Rfd1 Be7 13.Ne4 Bxe4 14.Qxe4 Ra7 15.Nd4
The exchange of two pairs of minor pieces should help Black, who has less space, but he still has to be very precise. The pawn breaks ...d6-d5 and ...b6-b5 look a long way off and he has to be very careful that he does not get tied down to a game-long defense of the backward pawn. That is the Hedgehog player’s darkest nightmare.
15...Qc8 appears slightly more accurate, intending to activate with ...Qc5 at some point. Even Anand could not make further inroads: 16.b3 Bf6 17.e3 Rd8 18.Qg4 g6 19.Rd2 h5 20.Qe2 Bg7 21.Rad1 Qc5 22.h4 Rad7
(White has only a nominal advantage now. The opposite-colored Bishops tend to move the game towards a draw.) 23.Bh3 Re7 (Unlike Nisipeanu, Adams is alert to the possibility of a sacrifice on e6.) 24.Qf3 Ree8 25.Qe4 d5?! (If Black continues maneuvering with 25...Nd7 there is little White can do. Now the game flares up!) 26.Nxe6! (Quite a move!)
26...dxe4 (26...Rxe6 27.Bxe6 dxe4 28.Rxd8+ Kh7 29.Rxb8 fxe6 30.Rd7 Kh6 31.Rbb7 is the splendid point of the combination. Black is lost.) 27.Rxd8 Qe7 28.Rxe8+ Qxe8 29.Rd8 Qxd8 30.Nxd8 Bf6 31.Nb7 Be7 (So White has won a pawn, but to win the game is something else. He first has to worry about his Knight!) 32.c5 (32.Bg2 f5 33.f3 exf3 34.Bxf3 Nd7 35.Kf2 Nc5 steers the game towards equality.) 32...Bxc5 33.Nxc5 bxc5 34.Bc8 Kg7 35.Bb7 f5 36.f3 exf3 37.Kf2 a5 38.Kxf3 Nd7 (It is doubtful whether the White King can reach b5 in peace.) 39.e4 Ne5+ 40.Ke3 c4! (Liquidating weaknesses.) 41.exf5 cxb3 42.axb3 gxf5 43.Ba6 Ng6 44.Be2 Kh6 45.Kd4 f4 46.gxf4 Nxf4 47.Bf3 Ng6 48.Kc5 Nxh4 49.Bxh5 Kxh5 50.Kb5 Nf5 51.Kxa5 Nd4 52.b4 Nc6+ 53.Ka4 Nxb4 54.Kxb4, 1/2-1/2, Anand-Adams, Sofia 2005. A superb fight.
16.b3 Bf6 17.e3 Nd7 18.Rac1 Qc8
The no-man’s land on the fifth rank is an interesting feature of Hedgehog position. Whoever commands more of this territory usually holds the advantage. Yet control and occupation are totally different ideas. Note that as soon as Black steps forward on to the fifth rank, he immediately gets downed by a tactic.
19...Ne5 would have been very satisfactory: 20.f4 (20.Rd2 Rd8 21.Rbd1 Rc5 22.f4 d5! =) 20...Ng6 21.Bh3 Re8 =.
Ouch! Black forgot about this one!
Point being that after 20...Re5 White is much better: 21.Nxf8 Rxe4 22.Nxd7 Re6 (22...Qxd7 23.Bxe4 g6 24.Rd3) 23.Nxb6 Qc5 24.Nd5.
21.Qxe6+ Kh8 22.Bh3! Rd8 23.Rxd6 Ne5 24.Qxc8 Rcxc8 25.Rxb6
White sweeps away all the Black pawns.
25...Rb8 26.Rxa6 Nxc4 27.Bg2 Rd2 28.b4
The game becomes much easier to understand. It’s a simple case of pushing the queenside pawns all the way.
28...h5 29.b5 h4
29...Bb2 is an attempt to hold up the advance, but with care White consolidates: 30.a4 h4 31.Bf1 Na3 32.Re1 hxg3 33.hxg3 Nc2 34.Re2 Rxe2 35.Bxe2 Nb4 36.Rd6! +-.
30.a4 Nb2 31.b6 Nd3 32.b7 Nxf2 33.Ra8 Be5 34.Rb5, 1–0.
Thanks a lot!
This was a good read