D’Costa: ABC of the English Opening

by Diana Mihajlova
11/17/2014 – The English Opening is not played as often as 1.e4 or 1.d4. But it is an entertaining, solid opening which a lot of strong players employ regularly or occasionally. World Champion Magnus Carlsen is one of them. In his new ChessBase DVD International Master Lorin D’Costa shows why the best players of the world were and are attracted to this versatile opening.

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Lorin D’Costa:
ABC of the English Opening
A Complete Repertoire for White

Review by Diana Mihajlova

We are yet to see if ‘the English’ will play an important role, or any role at all in the current World Championship Match.

In the meantime, Lorin D’Costa’s DVD could serve as an inspiration to tackle this popular opening, whose aficionados range from club players to super grandmasters.

The Fritztrainer is about a specific setup of the English Opening, as it is clearly announced by the author in his introduction: ‘White plays the moves c4, g3, Bg2 and Nc3 in pretty much most of the variations that you are about to see.’

Many greats of the past are known to have used this opening, from Capablanca and Alekhine through Fischer to Kasparov and Kramnik. D’Costa however has limits his choice of studied games to examples by the newer generation. The majority of selected games are from the last 10-20 years. Understandably so, because it is in recent times that attacking lines have been found in the English. And it is the ‘attacking lines’ that D’Costa recommends in his carefully analyzed case studies.

Lorin D’Costa in the ChessBase recording studios

While it is generally accepted that by playing the English Opening White’s aim is to build up a solid positional base, D’Costa has another intention on mind. He wants to shutter up this view and show that White can actually develop a much more exciting, attacking game. In order to support this, he has selected specific variations where White sacrifices a pawn or destroys his own pawn structure in order to gain a devastating initiative.

The section with illustrative analysed games is split in subsections treating 1.c4 e5 lines:

  • 1.c4 c5 Symmetrical English; and
  • 1.Others, where the games transpose in some other openings like the King's Indian, the Gruenfeld, the Dutch - including the Classical, Leningrad and Stonewall, Queen’s Gambit Declined and the Slav.

One move prevails however, and that is 2.g3. D’Costa recommends it as a way of avoiding the need to learn too much theory. All the games in the analysis section have g3 as White’s second move. With very few exceptions the selected games in the database are also about 2.g3.

The aim is to establish the most eminent feature in the English opening: fianchettoing the white king’s bishop, nicknamed the ‘English Bishop’, and posting it on the long diagonal g2-a8. This is illustrated in 35 case studies and more than 50 essential games in a specifically compiled database.

Only as a last example in the section of analyzed model games we are given a one off-scenario where Black has set up his own fianchetto by 2…b6. In this case D’Costa recommends the Botvinnik System, according to which deploying the English Bishop on g3 is delayed until several moves later.

The test positions at the end of the video, which became a common feature of the ChessBase DVDs, serve as a very helpful tool for checking and strengthening your acquired knowledge of the English. This part is particularly enjoyable, because it is almost like having a coach sitting across the table from you. Both your wrong and correct moves are commented on by the trainer’s real voice and move sequences.

IM Lorin D’Costa is a professional chess coach and author of chess books and DVDs. He has coached some of England’s best young talent, including the English youth squad at both the World and European Youth Championships.

Lorin D'Costa:
ABC of the English Opening

  • Video running time: seven hours
  • With interactive training including video feedback
  • Exclusive training database with 58 essential games
  • Including CB 12 Reader

Price: €27.90
€23.45 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$29.36 (without VAT)
ISBN: 978-3-86681-440-0

This DVD can be purchased as a hard copy or it can be downloaded directly from the Internet, that way sparing you the few days needed for it to arrive by post.

Order this Fritztrainer in the ChessBase Shop

Sample Video: Lorin D'Costa – ABC of the English Opening




A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.
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