English Opening, The — Volume 1

Mihail Marin

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Quality Chess
477 pages

The English Opening: Volume 1 by Romanian GM Mihail Marin is an opening book of the highest standard. It deals exclusively with the position after 1.c4 e5 2.g3 and covers all attempts to combat it by placing the Black Bishop on …e7, …c5 and …b4 as well as …g7. Reversed Dragon positions are analyzed as well as closed positions akin to Reversed Sicilians.

Marin has given very careful thought to what variations he advocates and that they mesh seamlessly with other recommended lines. This means 2.g3 to avoid 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 where Black is still free to play …f5. Interestingly while 2.g3 is played this does not always mean that White will fianchetto his King Bishop.

Consider 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 where Black is not afraid of 5.Bc4 e6, 5.Bb5 Nd4 or 5.g3. Turn the board around and surprisingly White has no advantage after 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 f5 4.Nc3 Nf6 as 5.e3 d5!, 5.d3 Bb4 and 5.a3 g6 all yield Black good play – a good example of Black’s information advantage compensating for the lost tempo.

Marin proposes instead a very specific move order – 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Nc3 f5 4.Nf3. In answer to …e4 sometimes the Knight will go to g5 (and later h3) and in other instances h4. The 24 pages in this chapter have some of the most original analysis in the book – a book I might add that is filled with many interesting theoretical novelties and strategic ideas.

Here are the contents for the book:
The English – A Repertoire Karpov Variation 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bc5 5.Nf3
Introduction 7…h6 8.a3 a6; 7…h6 8.a3 a5; 7…a6
5th Move alternatives: 5.a3?! and 5.e3

Reversed Rossolimo 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bb4 5.Nd5
Introduction 5…Nxd5?!; 5…Bc5; 5…0–-0 Minor Lines 5…0–-0 6.Nf3! Bc5; 5…0–-0 6.Nf3! e4
Botvinnik System 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.e4 d6 6.Nge2
Introduction 6…Nf6 6…Be6; 6…h5; 6…Nge7; 6…f5; 2…Nc6 3.Nc3
 3rd move alternatives
Reversed Dragon 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nc3

Introduction and minor lines 8…a5; 8…Be6; 8…0–-0 Minor Lines 11…a5; 11…Nd4

Keres Variation 1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.d4
Introduction and Sidelines 4…Bb4+; 4…exd4 5.Qxd4 Na6; 4…exd4 5.Qxd4 d5
Minor Lines 5…f5
Accelerated Keres 1.c4 e5 2.g3
Odd and Trends
Minor Lines

The English Opening: Volume 1 is an outstanding book that is must reading for anyone who plays 1.c4. Highly Recommended.

Also check out the reviews for The English Opening Volume 2 and The English Opening Volume 3.