Chess Opening Theory/1. c4

English Opening
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN)
Moves: 1. c4
ECO code: A10-A39
Parent: Starting position

1. c4 · English OpeningEdit

1. c4, the English Opening, 4th most popular move. White frees the queen, discourages Black's move 1...d5, and makes absolutely sure that the c-pawn won't get stuck on c2 behind a knight on c3. The resulting positions have more of a 1. d4 character than an 1. e4 character, and indeed the move d4 often follows later.

This opening isn't as sharp as 1.e4 or 1.d4 but takes control of d5. It is very flexible and can transpose easily.

Black's responsesEdit

  • 1...Nf6 or 1...g6 are likely to transpose into an Indian Defence.
  • 1...e5 is a "reversed" Sicilian Defence.
  • 1...e6 will probably end up in a Queen's Gambit Declined. This is known as the Agincourt Defense. However, if White plays 2.d4 then Black plays 2...Nf6, it is a typical Indian game (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 is the normal order.)
  • 1...c5 – most pure English lines come from the Symmetrical Variation and are quite hard to play and to understand.
  • 1...c6 will usually either transpose into the Caro-Kann Defence or the Slav Defence.
  • 1...f5, the Anglo-Dutch Defence, leads to sharp tactical lines for Black, but can open a powerful kingside attack. This is likely to transpose into the regular Dutch Defense after 2.d4.
  • 1...b6 will in all likelihood transpose into the English Defence.
  • 1...d5 is seldom played but may transpose into the Queen's Gambit or the Réti Opening.
  • 1...b5 normally gives good chances for Black, even though the Halibut Gambit is considered unsound at the professional level.
  • 1...g5, the Myers Defence, gives White a small advantage.

StatisticsEdit

Approximately chances
White win 37%, Draw 34%, Black win 29%.
Estimated next move popularity
Nf6 28%, e5 23%, e6 13%, c5 12%, g6 8%, c6 7%, f5 3%. Other moves less than 2%.
move average 365Chess.com (big) Chess Tempo (all) chessgames.com Lichess (masters) Lichess (database)
...Nf6 28.2% 30.9 30.3 31.4 28.4 20.0
...e5 23.2 22.6 23.0 22.0 24.0 24.6
...e6 13.4 13.2 13.4 14.4 14.4 11.7
...c5 11.7 11.8 11.9 11.4 11.5 12.0
...g6 7.7 8.0 7.6 8.4 8.2 6.6
...c6 7.4 6.9 7.4 7.1 8.3 7.0
...f5 2.8 3.5 3.1 2.9 2.5 2.0
...b6 1.7 1.5 1.6 1.4 1.6 2.3
...d5 1.6 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.0 7.7
...d6 1.4 1.0 0.9 0.6 0.7 3.8
...Nc6 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.3 1.1
...b5 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.5
...a6 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2
...g5 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1
everything else 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5

Theory tableEdit

1.c4
1 2 3 4 5 6
Symmetrical Variation c4
c5
Nf3
Nf6
g3
b6
Bg2
Bb7
O-O
g6
=
Reversed Sicilian Defence ...
e5
Nc3
Nc6
Nf3
Nf6
g3
d5
cxd5
Nxd5
Agincourt Defence ...
e6
Nc3
Bb4
Qb3
Nc6
Nf3
Nf6
a3
Bxc3
Anglo-Slav Variation ...
c6
Nf3
d5
g3
Nf6
Bg2
dxc4
O-O
Nbd7
Anglo-Indian Defence ...
Nf6
Nc3
e6
e4
c5
e5
Ng8
Nf3
Nc6
Great Snake Variation ...
g6
e4
e5
d4
Nf6
dxe5
Nxe4
Bd3
Nc5
English Defence ...
b6
d4
e6
e4
Bb7
Anglo-Dutch Defence ...
f5
Nf3
Nf6
g3
g6
Bg2
Bg7
O-O
O-O
Anglo-Scandinavian Defence ...
d5
cxd5
Qxd5
Nc3
Qa5
+=
Myers Defence ...
g5
d4
Bg7?!
Bxg5!
c5
Nf3
cxd4
Nxd4
Qb6
Nb5
Bxb2?!
+-
Halibut Gambit ...
b5
cxb5
a6
e4!
Bb7
Nc3
Nf6
e5
Nd5
Nf3
e6
+=

ReferencesEdit


For explanation of theory tables, see theory table and for notation, see algebraic notation.

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