English Defense: be the victor, not the victim!

by ChessBase
11/12/2006 – In his Playchess lecture this Monday Dennis Monokroussos takes a look at the English Defense (not the English Opening). If you don’t know what that is, so much the better – your opponents probably won’t, either! Come watch and learn.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Queenside openings have recently reclaimed top status in the (figuratively) eternal popularity contest, and so it’s in our best interest to refurbish our Black opening repertoire, especially for those who are just jumping on the 1.d4/1.c4 bandwagon. Accordingly, our game this week takes a look at the English Defense. Not the English Opening, but the English Defense. If you don’t know what that is, so much the better – your opponents probably won’t, either! We’ll see this unusual but interesting and playable opening as it occurred in the game Zsuzsa (“Susan”) Polgar-Jonathan Speelman, Dutch Team Championship 1993.

Against Speelman’s 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+ 3.Nc3 b6 4.e4 Bb7

Polgar attempted to kill the fianchettoed bishop and to grab the lion’s share of the center with the ambitious 5.d5. It’s natural and the sort of move that might scare many away from playing this line with Black; just the thing your opponent will be prone to play. It’s also a slight error, and after her next two moves – both quite logical as well, Black seized the initiative and whipped up a deadly attack. We can’t all play like Speelman, who was a several-time candidate for the world championship, but we can learn from the game – a very nice one – to our opponents’ detriment.

Join me this Monday night, so that when the English Defense appears on your board, you’ll be the victor, not the victim!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Mondays at 9 p.m. EDT, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Tuesday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).

Dennis Monokroussos is 40, lives in South Bend, IN, and is an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

He is fairly inactive as a player right now, spending most of his non-philosophy time being a husband and teaching chess. At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S., but quit for about eight years starting in his early 20s. His highest rating was 2434 USCF, but he has now fallen to the low-mid 2300s – "too much blitz, too little tournament chess", he says.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for seven years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

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