English opening facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

The English opening, usually just called the English, is a chess opening for players with the white pieces. It has become the third most popular opening move, after 1.e4 and 1.d4. The opening was developed by the English master Howard Staunton, and played in his match against Saint-Amant.p124

Variation 1
Start of chess board.
a8 black rook d8 black queen f8 black rook g8 black king
b7 black pawn c7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black bishop
c6 black knight d6 black pawn e6 black bishop f6 black knight g6 black pawn h6 black pawn
b5 white pawn e5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
c3 white knight d3 white pawn f3 white knight g3 white pawn
e2 white pawn f2 white pawn g2 white bishop h2 white pawn
b1 white rook c1 white bishop d1 white queen f1 white rook g1 white king
End of chess board.
  • 1. c4

As a first move this may transpose back to a QP opening: 1.c4 Nf6 2.d4. That would not be an English opening. The English is a system of development, flexible but including some or all of these moves:

  1. QN to c3
  2. KB fianchettoed on g2
  3. KN to f3 or e2
  4. 0-0
  5. QP to d3
  6. R to b1 followed by b2-b4-b5
Variation 2
Start of chess board.
a8 black rook c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black bishop h8 black rook
a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn
c6 black knight
d5 black knight e5 black pawn
d3 white pawn f3 white knight g3 white pawn
a2 white pawn b2 white pawn e2 white pawn f2 white pawn g2 white bishop h2 white pawn
a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king h1 white rook
End of chess board.
Variation 3
Start of chess board.
a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black bishop h8 black rook
a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
d5 black pawn e5 white pawn
c3 white knight
a2 white pawn b2 white pawn d2 white pawn f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn
a1 white rook c1 white bishop d1 white queen e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 white knight h1 white rook
End of chess board.
  • Variation 1.

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.d3 d6 6.Nf3 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Rb1 a5 9.a3 h6 10.b4 axb4 11.axb4 Be6 12.b5 This sequence shows the system fully in operation. White operates in the centre and Q-side; Black operates more on the K-side.

  • Variation 2.

1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.d3 This has the character of a Sicilian defence reversed.

  • Variation 3.

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.e5 Here 5...d4, 5...Ne4 and 5...Nfd7 are most often played. This is a quite different line, where the two sides clash early in the centre. Since White does not have to play 3.e4, he could avoid this line.

Each of these lines has its own distinct character, and needs to be learnt by the player.


English opening Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.