20 April 2014

Jennifer Shahade on the English

For those looking to play (or play against) the English Opening, Jennifer Shahade recently posted a lecture from the Saint Louis Chess Club on YouTube, as flagged on the Improving Chess Player blog.  The first several minutes are of general interest in terms of discussing the opening, with the remainder of the time spent analyzing a specific game.  She also covers some very useful general ideas as part of that, including pertinent middlegame concepts.  Some highlights:
  • Insightful discussion about the general value of playing 1. c4 as White and the difficulties of selecting a Black system against it
  • Transposition and move-order issues
  • Comments on when to calculate and when simply to play chess
  • Relative value of pieces in the opening, middlegame and endgame - especially fianchettoed bishops
  • The value of looking at tactical ideas, even when they currently do not work
  • The advantage of expanding in the center and kingside when the opportunity exists, even when "normal" play in the English features a queenside strategy.  It was comforting to see that other English players at the Class level also have this blind spot, which is something I've addressed previously on the blog.
The production value of the video is high quality, with a large board complemented by a view of the commentator, although some of the questions from the audience are not quite audible.

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