Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The English Symmetrical Variation with 3...d5

For many years I was lost playing against the English. Finally I decided to pick a line and learn it. I chose the Black line characterized by 3...d5, with the Knight on d5 later going to c7, where it holds Black's position together until Black can complete his development. The Knight later can go to e6, where it can support a Pawn push to f4, or it can go strongly to the hole at d4.

There are ways for White to deviate early, but in my experience White players invariably play as follows: 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Nc7 7. d3 e5 8. O-O Be7 9. Be3 Bd7

For years I was obsessed with trying to get in ...b6 and ...Bb7, but I finally looked in the book and found this simple move, which prevents White threats against the Black position, particularly against the Pawn on c5 which often becomes vulnerable.

The most usual approach in Master games now is the White Knight on f3 going to d2 and then to c4. However, most Class players in my experience like to play Ne4, making a direct threat against the Black Pawn on c5.

Following are two of my ICC games using this line. In the first game White wins the Black Pawn on c5, but I get an initiative which eventually prevails.

Riders73(1796)-chessart(1823), 4/6/97, 2,10
1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 c5 3. Bg2 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Nc3 Nc7 6. d3 e5 7. Be3 Be7 8. Rc1 Ne6 9. Qb3 Qd7 10. Nf3 Nc6 11. O-O O-O 12. Ne4 Ned4 13. Qd1 Nxf3+ 14. Bxf3 Nd4 15. Nxc5 Nxf3+ 16. exf3 Qf5 17. f4 b6 18. Ne4 exf4 19. Bxf4 Qh3 20. Qf3 Bg4 21. Qg2 Qh5 22. f3 Bh3 23. Qd2 Bxf1 24. Rxf1 Rad8 25. d4 Kh8 26. Kg2 Rfe8 27. Rd1 Qb5 28. d5 Bb4 29. Qd4 f5 30. Bh6 Bf8 31. Ng5 Re2+ 32. Kh3 Qd7 33. Ne6 Re8 34. Be3 Kg8 35. Bd2 Re8xe6 {White resigns} 0-1

Jonsdad(1653)-chessart(1735), 11/9/97, 2,1
1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Nc7 7. O-O e5 8. d3 Be7 9. a3 O-O 10. Rb1 f5 11. Qc2 Be6 12. e4 f4 13. gxf4 exf4 14. Bd2 Qd7 15. Kh1 Bh3 16. Rg1 Nd4 17. Nxd4 cxd4 18. Ne2 f3 19. Bxh3 Qxh3 20. Ng3 Ne6 21. Qb3 Rf6 22. Nf5 Bf8 23. Bh6 Re8 24. Bxg7 Bxg7 25. Rxg7+ Kh8 26. Rg3 Qh5 27. Ng7 Nxg7 28. Rbg1 Rg8 29. Qxb7 Rg6 30. Rxg6 hxg6 31. Qxa7 Qh6 32. Qxd4 Kh7 33. e5 Nf5 34. Qe4 Nh4 35. Rg3 Ng2 36. Kg1 Qg7 37. e6 Qh6 38. e7 Qc1+ 39. Qe1 Qxe1# {White checkmated} 0-1

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