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English (A20)
1 c4 e5

Number of games in database: 3277
Years covered: 1851 to 2017
Overall record:
   White wins 38.2%
   Black wins 29.0%
   Draws 32.8%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Mihai Suba  44 games
Kevin Spraggett  21 games
Bent Larsen  19 games
Alexey Shirov  15 games
Sergei Rublevsky  14 games
Gerald Hertneck  13 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Carlsen vs Anand, 2008
Petrosian vs Korchnoi, 1971
Botvinnik vs O Benkner, 1956
G Barcza vs Bronstein, 1949
Kasparov vs Wolff, 1988
Reti vs Nimzowitsch, 1925
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 page 1 of 132; games 1-25 of 3,277  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Staunton vs E Williams  ½-½30 1851 London m6A20 English
2. F Deacon vs E Lowe  1-045 1851 Club TourneyA20 English
3. F Deacon vs E Lowe  1-049 1851 London m3A20 English
4. Wyvill vs E Lowe 1-041 1851 LondonA20 English
5. R Brien vs F G Janssens  ½-½47 1854 London mA20 English
6. T W Barnes vs Zytogorski 0-144 1855 Kling's Coffee HouseA20 English
7. R Brien vs Bird 1-042 1858 BirminghamA20 English
8. E Pindar vs Kipping 1-019 1861 ManchesterA20 English
9. T W Barnes vs Hannah  ½-½32 1862 LondonA20 English
10. Owen vs Dubois ½-½71 1862 LondonA20 English
11. De Vere vs S Rosenthal 0-123 1867 ParisA20 English
12. E Rousseau vs S Rosenthal  0-151 1867 ParisA20 English
13. De Vere vs Winawer  0-135 1867 ParisA20 English
14. A Johnston vs M Judd  ½-½39 1871 2nd American Chess CongressA20 English
15. Steinitz vs S Rosenthal 1-039 1873 ViennaA20 English
16. K Pitschel vs S Rosenthal  0-139 1878 ParisA20 English
17. J Minckwitz vs A Schwarz  0-138 1878 Frankfurt mA20 English
18. W Paulsen vs E Flechsig  ½-½29 1879 LeipzigA20 English
19. Paulsen vs E Flechsig 0-149 1879 LeipzigA20 English
20. Zukertort vs S Rosenthal  ½-½24 1880 Rosenthal - ZukertortA20 English
21. Von Bardeleben vs L Benima  1-057 1883 London (Vizayanagaram)A20 English
22. A Skipworth vs J Mortimer 1-047 1883 LondonA20 English
23. A Skipworth vs Steinitz 0-154 1883 LondonA20 English
24. A Skipworth vs Winawer 0-120 1883 LondonA20 English
25. Zukertort vs Blackburne  ½-½72 1887 Blackburne - ZukertortA20 English
 page 1 of 132; games 1-25 of 3,277  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: None of the White hypermodern openings have done very well at the top levels the past decade or so - English, Reti, Nimzo-Larsen, Benko. There just isn't a top-level advocate of hypermodernism to champion them.

As noted by < whiskeyrebel> Stein played the English and other hypermodern openings with very aggressive intent.

Feb-20-09  chessman95: I agree. I think part of the reason they haven't done very well recently is because the few GMs who play those openings only play them occasionly, so they probably don't know them inside-out as they do other openings. If somebody could regularly play hypermodern openings and actually learn how to play them correctly, then maybe we would see the statistics rise for white.
Feb-26-09  FiveofSwords: <whiskeyrebel> Right, of course, you see, white wants black to play the game so he doesnt have to haha. Of course black can decide, if he wants, not to let his buttons get pushed and then what do you do. play for c5? I dont think any of the strongest players have made 1 c4 or 1nf3 their main move. Fisher obviously was an 1e4 player. If he played 1nf3 there was a special reason. I understand my statement was a little unfair but theres a lot of truth to it as the defensive responses to it show.
Feb-26-09  blacksburg: <I dont think any of the strongest players have made 1 c4 or 1nf3 their main move.>

kramnik played 1.Nf3 as his main move for a long time. and korchnoi played 1.c4 hundreds of times.

Feb-26-09  blacksburg: according to the database, Kramnik has won 46% of his games as white after 1.Nf3. in comparison, Anand has won 47.3% with white after 1.e4. so i'd say that 1.Nf3 has worked out pretty well for him.
Feb-26-09  unsound: I'm not sure <FiveofSwords>'s continued dismissiveness really merits a response. (The very act of playing 1.c4 "usually" shows a fear of playing chess, according to FOS.) However, personally I feel as though in some ways I'm "playing chess" more when I play the English than in some other openings. I switched from 1.e4--open Sicilians and the King's Gambit, which was fun, but almost always resulted in a headlong rush into a tactical melee. The point of the English, as I take it, is that it is much less committal, and its flexibility allows for a range of plans--according to the setup black chooses, it still might make most sense to attack on the kingside, but a more effective strategy might well be to apply queenside pressure, or even to operate on both wings at once--and various different configurations in the center are possible. For me, having to make early strategic decisions about what set-up best counters black's is challenging and still fun.

If you don't like playing black against it--well, good. But I think you should stop pretending you know the single right way to play chess. It makes you come over as something of a jackass, which I'm sure is not accurate.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KingG: I'm not going to bother trying to defend the English(an opening I don't play, but I do play 1.d4 and the Sicilian, which are obviously not unrelated) against <FiveofSwords>'s nonsense, but I do want to point out something he posted on Sicilian, Alapin (B22).

<ive always played the alapin, and studied a huge amount of theory on it. In the main lines black has a couple of ways to equalize, but I dont think any other sicilian is different in this respect. It has potential to get very tactical, but white keeps a huge amount of control in the position so the tactics tend to be rather one-sided. Black will have a very, very difficult time playing aggresively versus this opening, and usually gets punished if he tries. Theres a tremendous number of interesting possibilities to deviate from the 'main lines' for both sides so you rarely wind up playing the exact same 1st 10 moves or something. Another nice thing about this is that plenty of harmless looking logical moves black can play could quickly put him in a terrible position if white knows the way.>

How exactly is this any different from the English, apart from the fact that it's more difficult to equalise in the English than in the Alapin? Personally I think the Alapin is the more 'cowardly' of the two openings, and contains far less strategic depth.

Mar-08-09  FiveofSwords: <kingG> honestly, I lose a lot to the english and just hate it. It just makes me angry. I think theres a big difference between the english and the alapin however. mostly, its quite obvious what white's idea is in the alapin...its very direct. white just wants to guaruntee a long term control of the center by a move that sortof attempt to nullify the idea of 1..c5. In the english, its really not clear at all what white is actually doing. He's sortof abandoning the center except for one square, d5...and his pressure is like something that creeps up on you and you never see it coming unless you are very vigilant about move order nuances and know how to play your opening vs the english. But anyway I disagree that the alapin is easier to equalize against. The strategy in the alapin is rather more direct and simple than the english, and if white is playing it to win, like i do, then its really not cowardly at all..I almost always sacrifice a pawn in the alapin in fact for a very sharp and dangerous position. maybe you play people who play the alapin to draw so never see this sort of stuff. Anyway i certainly never see it in the english either heh.
Mar-08-09  FiveofSwords: basically the reason i have such a emotional reaction to the english is because I really play black to win, always, no matter who the opponent is. If i see the english or 1nf3 it just crushes my spirit, cause what on earth are you supposed to do against that heh. So I wind up having to play cowardly moves just so I dont lose. can't stand this.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: <FiveofSwords>, I played nothing but 1.c4 toward the end of my career, but I loved playing *against* it as much as I loved using it! There are lots of ways for Black to play for the win against it. Like gambits? Play 1.c4,c5; 2.Nf3,Nf6; 3.d4,cxd4; 4.Nxd4,e5!?; 5.Nb5,d5. Like the KID? Simply play the main line.

Never hate an opening; that's a great way to keep losing to it. Also, consider something an IM once told me. If there is an opening that you absolutely hate to face--start playing it yourself! I got to play a lot of sacrificial attacks with the English, so why not you?

Mar-20-09  FiveofSwords: i dont like the KID tho (I really cannot play cramped, closed or nearly closed equal material positions well at all. one thing all my openings do is absolutely not allow those sorts of positions.) and I would never expect to see 3.d4...if the guy is ok with playing 3 d4 in that position then they are probably going to play the english in some way im happy with in any of the other lines. What i hate is when they refuse to allow any sort of contact in the position at all until they have gotten all their bits directed.
Mar-20-09  chessman95: <i dont like the KID tho (I really cannot play cramped, closed or nearly closed equal material positions well at all. one thing all my openings do is absolutely not allow those sorts of positions.)>

I hate the KID as well. It just 'gives' white the center and there are those annoying variations against it like the Four Pawns Attack. I find it a bit of a shocker however that you say you don't like closed positions. The Alapin Sicilian doesn't do much to <absolutely not allow those sorts of positions.>

Mar-20-09  blacksburg: i think it's important to point this out - if you hate your opponent's opening, then he has chosen wisely.
Mar-21-09  chessman95: Or maybe you've just chosen unwisely. I've stopped playing many openings over the years simply because of responses I don't like.
Premium Chessgames Member
  refutor: i think <AnEnglishman>'s advice of <if there is an opening that you absolutely hate to face--start playing it yourself> is good advice. even if you get beaten on the "other side" of it, the experience may give you some ideas on how to crush it.
Mar-21-09  chessman95: Yes, that's good advice. I used to struggle with 1.e4 mainly because of the Sicilian, but after I did some studying and started playing it myself my performance against it was much better. Now I enjoy playing both sides of the Sicilian, and play only 1.e4.
Mar-27-09  Nuncle: <FiveofSwords: i dont like the KID tho (I really cannot play cramped, closed or nearly closed equal material positions well at all. one thing all my openings do is absolutely not allow those sorts of positions.)>

How odd. I always found that the KID practically plays itself.

Mar-27-09  WhiteRook48: I like the KID a lot, but I only play it with the white pieces
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I started playing 1. c4 recently, and the results have been very good, simply because strong opponents sometimes seem to lose their marbles against it. One game started 1. c4 d5? 2. exd5 e6?, which has got to be the worst gambit I've ever seen. Anyway, <fiveofswords>' posts certainly jibe with my initial experiences.

<fiveofswords>, following up on <An Englishman>'s post re <Play 1.c4,c5; 2.Nf3,Nf6; 3.d4,cxd4; 4.Nxd4,e5!?; 5.Nb5,d5>, check out this game, and cheer up.

Mikhalchishin vs Kasparov, 1981

Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: <One game started 1. c4 d5? 2. exd5 e6?, which has got to be the worst gambit I've ever seen.>

I recently saw worse in the same "line", played by an 1800 in a classical game on my club:

1.c4 d5 2.cxd5 Nf6 3.e4 Nxe4

.. of course not an intentional sacrifice, but he joked afterwards that the "gambit" should be named after him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: Worst Gambit Ever = R Rehfeld vs O Bohne, 1989
Mar-27-09  chessman95: I think this might be about the most unsound gambit in chess... but it worked! H Phillips vs Pillsbury, 1899
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <chessman95> <acirce> <tpstar>

I guess I should say that 1. c4 d5 2. ed e6 is the worst gambit that's ever been played against me. Though someone on Gameknot recently tried out a questionable new move in the Halloween Gambit: 1. e4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Nxe5 Nxe5 5. d4 Ng6 6. e5 Ng8 7. Bc4 d5 8. Bxd5 c6 9. Bg5 (the Screaming Howler variation?). It took me quite a while to realize that I could take the QB....

Another awful gambit that worked, the mirror image to 1. c4 d5: B Vergani vs Blackburne, 1895

Premium Chessgames Member
  refutor: recently i've been getting into the english by 1.g3 e5 2.c4...i prefer those positions to the "normal" 1.g3 e5 lines
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <refutor: recently i've been getting into the english by 1.g3 e5 2.c4...i prefer those positions to the "normal" 1.g3 e5 lines>

There is something to be said for delaying Nc3 in the Reversed Sicilian. Soltis wrote a small monograph on the idea 'Winning with the English Opening.'

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