Traps in the English Opening – A Handy Guide with Tips

Traps in English Openings - A Handy Guide with Tips

English Opening is regarded as one of the safest openings from the white side. You can achieve an easy draw against any player. This Opening is famous for players who are ranked below 2000. In the English Opening, white’s main action plan is to open his kingside fianchetto bishop and begin to attack the queenside with pawns.

Black also has two significant options against English Opening. Either go 1…c5, or 1…e5. In both cases, black gets a good position, and black can achieve equality quickly. However, if both players play perfectly in the 1…c5 variation, it will mostly end up in a draw.

On the other hand, in the 1…e5 variation, both players will fight for a win as the position is very asymmetrical.

Traps in the English Opening

There are various traps in English Opening. You can use them to fool your opponent and also not to get fooled by your opponent. Most of the traps are in 1…e5 variation. 1…Nf6 and 1…c5 doesn’t have many traps because they already have symmetrical structures. See all traps from the following study.

Tips for the White Side

  • Opening preparation is vital – English Opening is comparatively easy to play and doesn’t need much preparation, but still, you should prepare theory from a book or a coach. There are small tricks and traps which black can apply in-game.
  • Start attacking the queenside – In the English Opening, as we have seen, black’s main plan is to play on the King’s side, and white plans to play on the queen’s side. Therefore white should start pushing their queenside pawns as soon as possible.
  • King’s safety is essential – If a black attack is strong, then directly mating threats will come. Therefore, the King’s safety is very much important. After a short castle, you should focus on developing knights and getting a center break with d4 or e3.

Tips for the Black Side

  • Defend your queenside – Develop your queenside pieces in Opening moves. White’s main target is your queenside, so you should be alert.
  • Prepare well – In every Opening, white can get equality quickly. But black has to play well and make good plans for the more extended play. If you are playing 1…e5 or 1…c5, preparation is essential.

Advantages of Playing English Opening

  1. Safe to play – English Opening is very safe from the white side. There are no complications. Plans are also elementary and straightforward. This is why the English Opening is very famous among mid-level players.
  2. Better endgame – Endgames are generally better for white in English openings. The main reason behind this is the queenside attack. White gets a positional advantage on the queenside, and black gets a tactical advantage on King’s side. But when pieces are exchanged, the tactical advantage also disappears.
  3. Easy to learn – Very little theory is involved in the English Opening. You only have to prepare 2-3 variations. Because of this, you can save a lot of time revising variations, and you can focus on the endgame and middle game.
  4. Perfect for a draw – Are you a d4 or e4 player? I recommend you learn English opening. Sometimes you need a forced draw to win a tournament, achieve your norm, cross rating target, etc. At this time, instead of going into complexities, you can prefer to play English opening and secure an easy draw. 
  5. Helpful to convert into various openings – English Opening can be helpful to convert into various openings. When you play c4, and if your opponent plays e6, you can convert in any opening such as exchange french, queen’s gambit or Nimzo Indian, Reti Opening, etc. By using this way, you can ruin your opponent’s preparation.

Should I Play English Opening as My Primary Weapon?

Yes, you can play.

Various grandmasters have been playing the English openings for the past decades. But I will suggest preparing various variations because there is a lot of standard theory involved. Your opponent can prepare quickly with you once your database gets 100-200 games.

How to Prepare English Opening from Both Sides

There are many ways to learn how to prepare for an English Opening from both sides. I always recommend that the best way to learn openings is to approach a chess coach or join a good chess academy.

You can learn from video courses, but it always has its limitations. Here are a few tips from which you can learn and become a master the English Opening.

  • The first thing is to play online games in English Opening. Whether you are learning from black or white, first play some online games. You will understand all aspects of the position and if it is suitable for you or not.

If you find the position very comfortable, then:

  • Purchase some good courses or books which will cover the whole English Opening. Prepare the English Opening in detail. Then create your database and save all files on the computer. If you don’t like a particular variation from the book, then take help from the engine or ask some players and edit accordingly in your database.
  • Follow the latest trends. Watch all the latest games and novelties, read blogs and articles on English Opening. You will get new ideas to implement in online or offline games and add them to your database.
  • Create a database called the English opening game and add all the games you have played. Analyzing those games daily will help you in tournament preparation and build confidence in playing naturally.

Free Resources

Many free resources are available. Here are few videos which will be very useful to learn English Opening from the white and black sides.

  1. How to Play the English Opening by IM Levy Rozman
  2. The English Opening – Chess Openings Explained


The English Opening is a famous opening, and definitely, you can prepare it for expanding your repertoire. However, it is always recommended that you prepare the Opening properly before playing for a rewarding play. This variation is very much helpful if you like to play safe and positional chess.

All our articles are reviewed and edited by GM Marian Petrov, a top level GM coach, theorist, mentor and and former Bulgarian champion, as well as winner of many open tournaments around the world.

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