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The English Opening g3 variation can cause some headaches for the unprepared player as it’s so flexible. However, a little knowledge goes a long way and GM Huschenbeth shows Black is doing great against all the main ideas in this free preview of his chess24 course Play Against 1.c4 and 1.Nf3: A Repertoire for Black.
Niclas’ first recommendation is to match White’s claim to important central squares by meeting c4 with c5 and Nc3 with Nc6. Now comes the English Opening g3 fianchetto and we copy this too, 3…g6.
As is shown, any double fianchetto ideas with b3 are harmless. Black just plays Nf6, castles and plays the freeing move …d5. After a series of exchanges on d5, Black has a great position with the possibility of claiming more space later with …e5. White will be unable to match this King pawn march without blocking in his g2 Bishop.
The modest 5.d3 is nothing to worry about either. Still, some care is needed. After 5…e6 6.Bf4 d6! is important, preventing Black placing his Bishop there and severely restricting our movement. With the right combination of pawn moves, however, Black gets a space advantage and some great open lines to attack along.
Again, with 5.e3 e6 6.Nge2 Nge7 we just mirror White’s moves, exchanging on d4 when he makes this push, then playing …d5 ourselves. We’re not just mimic our opponent however, we’re showing he doesn’t have an edge here and, in fact, has plenty of ways to go wrong. The natural looking 12. Qb3 can be met with …Bg4 13.Nc3 Nxd4 14.Qxd5 Be6 and Black is already better, thanks to the strong d4 Knight.
GM Huschenbeth’s provides a ton of powerful responses to the English Opening g3 variation here, enough to make you very confident at the board.
Enjoy this video and check out the complete course Play Against 1.c4 and 1.Nf3: A Repertoire for Black.