NIC: When Harry meets the English

by New In Chess
4/12/2018 – The popular S.O.S. column from New In Chess Magazine, recently featured an almost comical second move for black against the English early fianchetto: 2...h5. NIC columnist Jeroen Bosch notes, ‘A move like 2...h5 gives rise to a lot of early creativity, of course.’ See what he means in this entertaining article from the leading global English chess magazine.

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S.O.S. appears courtesy New In Chess Magazine and republished with kind permission

1.c4 e5 2.g3 2.h5!?

by Jeroen Bosch

White opts for the fianchetto without further ado. This makes a lot of sense since the square d5 has been singled out as a prime target by 1.c4. For the same reason, 2.♘c3 is the main line. Many White players (wanting to fianchetto their king’s bishop anyway) postpone the development of the queen’s knight these days in view of the reply 2...♗b4 (in the style of the Rossolimo Sicilian!).

SOS logoAs Victor Mikhalevski observes in his Beating Minor Openings (Quality Chess, 2016), 2.g3 owes its present popularity to Tony Kosten and Mihail Marin, who both wrote repertoire books for White based on the move order with 2.g3. Logically, 2...c6 is now a decent reply — ‘it’s square d5, stupid!’, as an American President might say to his opponent — and this is indeed the line that Mikhalevski advocates in the aforementioned tome (nearly 600 pages to combat ‘Minor Openings’!). And I am afraid that I have been guilty of combatting 2.g3 in the same sensible way. In a recent league match, one of my teammates went for a much more entertaining option. One that certainly deserves scrutiny in this column. 2...h5!?

Attaboy, that’s the spirit! The timid 2.g3 has suddenly been transformed into the proverbial red rag to a raging bull. The logic is all there — didn’t Fischer explain his strategy towards the Dragon as: open the h-file, sac, sac and mate? The English Opening is a reversed Sicilian after all!

Over the years there has been considerable GM support for hurling Harry the h-pawn forward. The likes of Richard Rapport, Ivan Sokolov and Ivan Popov are notable 2600+ adherents. A move like 2...h5 gives rise to a lot of early creativity, of course. For how should White respond?

  1. Should he react by trying to prevent or prepare for ...h5-h4 with 3.h4, 3.h3 or 3.♘f3 ?
  2. Should he just continue developing with 3.♘c3 or 3.♗g2 ?
  3. Or should he adhere to that age-old principle that all  ank attacks must be met in the centre: 3.d4 ?

All these questions will badger White after 2...h5, and each of the responses contains a certain logic. A deep theoretical survey makes no sense at all, but indications will be given concerning all of these possible answers.

Variation I 3.h4


The English Opening Vol. 1

Williams main teaching method behind this set of two DVDs is to teach you some simple yet effective set ups, without the need to rely on memorising numerous complicated variations.


Variation II 3.h3


The English Opening Vol. 2

Williams main teaching method behind this set of two DVDs is to teach you some simple yet effective set ups, without the need to rely on memorising numerous complicated variations.


Variation III 3.Nf3


Variation IV 3.Nc3


Variation V 3.Bg2 h4


Variation VI 3.d4


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In issue 2018#2

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The second issue of the year contains 108 pages of the best in chess with Carlsen, Kasparov, Aronian, Kramnik, Fischer and many others:

Carlsen sets record with 6th win
The 80th Tata Steel Chess ­Tournament in Wijk aan Zee ended with a blitz playoff between Magnus Carlsen and Anish Giri. The World Champion tends to win playoffs. Always. And this one was no exception.
Levon Aronian wins Gibraltar
In his first appearance in an Open in more than a decade, Levon Aronian won the play-offs of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess. The traditionally generous prize for the best female player, £ 15,000, was pocketed by Pia Cramling. 

Kasparov's musical favourites
Garry Kasparov chose his musical favourites - from Mozart to Lloyd Webber - for a BBC radio program

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In a personal account, the winner of the Tata Steel Challengers reveals how he transformed into a Master.

Judit Polgar
It’s not easy to play after a loss, Judit Polgar argues. Or a win!
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Maxim Dlugy followed the Carlsen-Nakamura match and looks at the merits of Fischer Random.
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Correction April 13th: Due to an editing error, Variation V was initially omitted and Variation VI was mislabelled.

New In Chess (NIC) was founded in 1984 and appears eight times a year. It is read by club players in 116 countries. A yearly subscription for eight issues costs €79.99.
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jonkm jonkm 4/14/2018 01:35
Good magazine, I subscribed hoping to see some in-depth coverage of the candidates and the WC match.
Offramp Offramp 4/13/2018 06:40
We need a new volume of ECO.
macauley macauley 4/13/2018 08:34
@ ChessPlease @ promoKC - Thanks fixed.
ChessPlease ChessPlease 4/13/2018 04:39
One line that wasn't mentioned in the analysis of the 3)h4 line but seems pretty topical is 6)e3 viz:

1. c4 e5 2. g3 h5 3. h4 Nc6 4. Bg2 Bc5 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. e3 d6 7. Nge2 Bg4(7... Be6? 8. d4) 8. O-O O-O black has no pawn lever in the center due to white's central light square control, so white is not compelled to challenge the center with d2-d4 immediately but instead can play more cagily with something like: 9. a3 a5 10. d3 Qd7 11. Re1 Rfe8 12. b3 Bb6(12...Bh3 13. Bh1) 13. Qd2 Rad8 14. Bb2 and white is fully mobilized and ready to go for one of the pawn breaks b3-b4 or d3-d4 gaining space in either case and probably some advantage.
promoKC promoKC 4/13/2018 01:22
Thanks, but Variation V, 3.Bg2, is missing.
Aighearach Aighearach 4/12/2018 10:10
I can guarantee you that an American who wanted to abuse the cliche is such a manner would say, "it's d5, stupid!"

It is a colloquial pattern of speech, you would never add redundant words that merely explain grammar, you'd use the shortest most casual construction for each part.