05 May 2012

Annotated Game #44: Queenside breakthrough in the English

This second-round tournament game features a classic queenside breakthrough in the English, even if it was somewhat messily executed by White.  Black does not appear to have much knowledge or faith in his opening play, avoiding the full King's Indian Defense (KID) setup by not playing ...e5 and furthermore not generating any meaningful counterplay.  I found it useful to examine moves like 12...c5 to see why they fail to stop White's queenside pressure.  It was also useful to see Houdini's alternative plans for White, which would have done away with distractions like 13. Bg5.

The game is an illustration of what can happen if Black fails to generate kingside or centrally-based counterplay against the standard English plan of queenside expansion against a KID-type setup.  Playing only on White's terms never ends up well for Black, who should either deliberately work to restrain White's plan on the queenside with moves like ...a5, and/or go for kingside expansion with ...e5 and likely an eventual ...f5.  What happens in this game, with the queenside breakthrough evolving into a kingside attack, is a typical outcome when White is able to dominate the position.

One of the benefits of playing the English Opening at the Class level is the relatively high probability of throwing your opponent on their own thinking resources early on.  It doesn't always end up being this one-sided, but it's usually obvious as White when Black is having trouble finding a response to your opening play, which among other things typically results in Black burning a lot of clock time early on in the game.

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