I'm looking for a simple plan to play against the English. Ideally a side line, even if it's objectively worse than main lines. I'm far from being a GM, so it won't matter a lot. I prefer that to a main line that English opening players will obviously know much better than me. Something like the Raphael variation (2.Nc3) against the Dutch. I like that kind of games, as well as Caro-Kann.

  • 2
    1.c4 d5 can be a bit extreme, but should be playable. After 2.d4 is just a Queen's gambit, and after the more usual 2.cxd5 you can chose between Qxd5 or Nf6 or even the gambit with c6
    – emdio
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 20:33

3 Answers 3


The white opening move 1. c4 looks like an invitation to play a reversed Sicilian. For fun you can take up the challenge and play a reversed Grand Prix Attack!

So you would aim for a setup with e5, Bc5, f5, Nf6, O-O, etc. It's probably a good idea to make an escape square for the bishop by also playing a6 as soon as white tries a3 looking to follow up with b4 and c5 winning your bishop. An early d6 is another way of safeguarding your c5 bishop.

If white is not careful this can turn into something close to a classical Dutch where black has achieved the thematic break e5 on move 1.

This is an offbeat line which is reasonably sound and can give you some good attacking chances against an opponent who isn't familiar with the ideas. It also gets you away from the world of often stodgy standard lines.

  • What’s the plan after 3.e3 and 4.d4? It seems difficult to get the bishop to c5 or b4 and you end up in a not very Grand Prix position. Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 5:07
  • Is this really a side line?
    – Hauptideal
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 8:47

The suggested answer is objectively good, but leads to heavily theoretical and concrete play. I would suggest to have a look at 1... b5!? First of all, it is a sideline many English players haven't studied properly, and secondly it is full of poison, leading to Benko-like positions, as the typical follow-up is 2. cxb5 a6 3. bxa6.

[fen "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - "]
[Event ""]
[Site ""]
[Date ""]
[EventDate ""]
[Round ""]
[Result ""]
[White "A simple example"]
[Black "-"]
[ECO "A10"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount ""]

1. c4 b5 2. cxb5 a6 3. bxa6 Bxa6 4. g3 d5 5. d4 Nf6 6. Nf3 e6 7. Bg2 c5 
8. O-O Nbd7 9. Nc3 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Qb6

Im not sure what level of play to assume here. Voluntarily accepting an inferior line against a strong player does not seem like a good policy so I will assume that White is not very powerful. Such players often adopt 1.c4 because they prefer to avoid anything sharp and you may be able to exploit this. For example they will often play d3 rather than d4 even when d4 might be preferable. They are hoping to complete a solid development before having to calculate any tactics, and are frequently content to make safe but rather moves. This may be the sort of player that you are having difficulty with. It is hard to suggest specific lines of play because White may choose such a wide variety of setups. But you can turn that psychology against them.

For example, as well as a reversed Grand Prix, you can play other systems involving ..f5. I often play, in some order, g6, Bg7, e5, Ne7, d6, Nbc6, 0-0, f5, slowly building an attacking formation without creating any weaknesses. Naturally this has to be adapted to what White actually does, but if they are content with slow development Black gets a nice position.

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