Playing the English excerpt

There is now an excerpt of Nikos’s excellent Playing the English repertoire. The book is a solid 440 pages, so we made it a generous 20-page excerpt. We don’t have a set-in-stone publication date yet, but either end of August or start of September will be right.

And at the same time will be Endgame Labyrinths, though an excerpt on that book will have to wait a few days.

131 thoughts on “Playing the English excerpt”

  1. Hi, thanks for the PDF excerpt, the book looks really good and look forward to purchasing in both physical and electronic formats.

    Will the line 1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 g3 d5 be covered in chapter 6 Variation A?
    If not is the covered?


  2. @The Doctor
    Sorry for all queries I should just wait until the book is released but…….

    I cannot see where the equally popular 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 g3 b6 (Anti-Queen’s Indian) is covered unless it’s Chapter 6 variation A, but this is a big section that Khalifman gives about 25 pages to in his OFWATK Book 2.

  3. Have you already decided whether and if so where the books will be published online (chessable/chesstempo/forwardchess)?

  4. @The Doctor
    Rather than white playing 4 cxd5 there, white could play 4 Bg2 looking to transpose to the Tarrasch coverage or Reversed Benoni coverage in the QGD chapter.

    The only thing with 4 cxd5 is that black can play 4…Nc6, waiting to see what white plays on the 5th move, rather than pushing 4…d4 immediately. White can’t play 5 0-0 as after 4…Nc6 as 5…e5 comes for black. White may be forced to play 5 cxd5 anyway and if that is the case it may well be 4 cxd5 anyway.

    Just something I was thinking about after seeing your interesting question Doctor.

  5. @The Doctor

    I was looking at the Anti-Queen’s Indian query too just then Doctor.

    I was thinking if black plays …Bb7 and a fast …c5 it may transpose to The Hedgehog chapter. If they don’t pay …c5 but do play typical QID moves …Bb7/…Be7/…0-0 in some order then white could disregard the black move order to some extent and play the lines delaying d4 and playing Re1 (that would be some mix of Bg2/0-0/Nc3/Re1 for white) and that approach may not need too many pages to cover for white? I think those positions are good for white.

  6. @James2

    Yes a great as the book looks and the lines that are given look really nice, it just seems some lines maybe missing are hard to see where they could transpose into, certainly the 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 g3 b6 line, I cannot see how that could transpose into anything given in any other chapter?

  7. @The Doctor

    I think sometimes the abridged index does leave some unanswered questions in a QC book in the pre-publication phase, and that is one disadvantage of the abridgement. I’m sure it is better to do that rather than put up the full index which reveals everything and the lines to a greater depth. However, one thing I like about Chess Stars is that Semkov generally includes the index in full in a pdf excerpt and you do get a better grasp of the content of the book itself.

    I’m sure if you had access to the full index, your queries could well be answered…

  8. I saw an English middlegame course at the killer chess site by Nikos. Is this an overlap or additional material?

  9. @Krokohol

    On the website,, they write: “ Nikos has been analyzing 1.c4 repertoires for strong GMs since 2014. He is working now on the final details of a book which will be published by Quality Chess.
    In this camp, he will touch upon the most important areas and ideas of this repertoire”

    Regarding the lines, it seems to be mostly an overlap, but it is possible that the course focuses more on middlegames and the book on opening variations.

  10. The middlegame course is 6 sessions where Nikos explains his thinking and runs through most of his ideas for the book. Based on the Grunfeld-Slav extract, there is a lot of overlap with the supporting files containing the same material and games as in the book. There is less theory in that course as it heavily focuses on explanation of strategy and ideas so it depends on whether you find it helpful to hear the author speaking. From my perspective, I found it useful and Nikos is a very good presenter.

  11. @The Doctor

    I think what we should be aware of is the fact that this is not a “Grandmaster Repertoire”, but a “Playing the …” book. These are usually a bit lighter on pure theory and focus more on explanation. This necessarily means a few concessions or, to put it differently, it means the authors needs to choose where to put more emphasis on. Otherwise, it would be simply impossible to fit everything for 1.c4 into one book.

    Based on the abridged index, you can see this for example for the line 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4, which is apparently dealt with on 3 pages. It’s similar with other lines.

    I don’t think this is a problem, as this is certainly sufficient for practically all amateur players. I’d just caution against comparing the depth of some lines with Khalifman’s or Marin’s treatment of the same complex. They had rather different goals with their books, in my opinion.

  12. 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 is indeed covered in Chapter 6, variation A.

    I haven’t checked Nikos’s KCT course, but it’s safe to assume there will be some overlap between parts of that middlegame course and some of the middlegame concepts he covers in the introductions to each chapter. Obviously the book contains a wealth of theoretical content as well.

    As for the Queen’s Indian set-up, Nikos and I both messed up. He made a file on it but somehow forgot to send it with the rest of the book, and I failed to spot the omission during editing. Apologies – these things can happen sometimes. We will make that content available.

    Nikos likes to meet that move order by transposing to the Queen’s Indian (obviously with Black no longer having the option of 4.g3 Ba6) and using a clever idea, details of which he has just published on his Twitter page.

  13. Nitpicking: Is the spelling of Tromso (instead of Tromsø) in the introduction intentional? Seems to be spelled Tromsø even in English, at least on my Google Maps and Wikipedia.

  14. Thanks Doctor.

    And Tobias, yes it’s intentional. Another example would be “Zurich” rather than Zürich. We know that the official version has an accented letter but at some point we decided to lean towards a ‘cleaner’ look. Such things can be debated of course, but that was what we decided. However, we opted to keep the accent for particularly famous player/opening names such as “Grünfeld”.

  15. @Krudos

    Thanks! This might be a good addition for those who appreciate different ways of learning overlapping stuff to tackle decreasing memory capabilities.

  16. Good morning Andrew,

    I was thinking about the missed QID line last night, and I wanted to ask if it was in the realms of possibility to prepare a separate PDF of the missing analysis, which is in the style of the book type font/diagrams/structure we all know and love from Quality Chess?

    I know Nikos has done something on social media, but for me I would much rather be able to print off a few pages of a PDF and just put them in the back of the book when I was studying it.

    I don’t know if this is onerous work or not but I thought I would ask. There are a good few weeks to publication so it does not seem implausible plus it does not need to be ready for when the book is published. It could be after so long as it is coming.

    Thank you.

  17. Does Nikos discuss about why he chose the 1.c4 2.Cf3 move order instead of 1.c4 g3 ? Would be great to have a chapter with the pros and cons of both ! Thanks in advance !

  18. Thanks for the preview! I’m very excited that it will be published soon. Very interesting that Nikos gives 6. d4 with ! In Chapter 14. A move that was not seen for a WC-Match and a half. Page 394 is the „professional variation“, is there an idea that nobody else has been able to find? Or does he come to the conclusion that a average player will have winning chances in that famous endgame with 4-3, Rook and opposite colored bishops? I will definitely buy this book (big fan of his work anyway)

  19. i’d stop the print, fix it and include whats missing, mistakes can happen, but this is sloppy. A book is a team effort, but again everyone is overlooking missing lines. i am skipping the book for this reason, i want a complete book, not one with holes. Qualitychess is not what it used to be. Idk who is editing, but i think its not the same people as years ago.
    1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Nd5 is only 3 pages? black has 3 good replys. 2 Volumes would have been better.

  20. @gernot

    I agree with the sentiment that the best way is to stop the print, include what’s missing and go back to print. This will likely lead to a time delay but I’m fine with that. There is also a cost element (in various ways, for already printed copies, for the delay in the other printed documents, …), and we don’t know the numbers to come to any judgement. Of course, one can overlook a refutation in a line, and Quality Chess has been forthcoming to provide a solution by providing a pdf when this has happened. This is great. But if the mistake is spotted before shipping a single copy of the book and the mistake is missing to include an intended chapter, this is a bit disappointing. I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about the editing and quality at QC. IMO they still provide, by some margin, the best quality of books when held in hand.

  21. Thanks for the preview, I’m very excited. Really love Nikos work. Very curious that he gives 6.d4 an exclamation mark in Chapter 14. We have not seen the main linie catalan in the last WC, the main reason beeing the “professional variation” page 394. Has he found something that nobody else was able to find? Or is he just ok with that 4-3, rook, opposite coloured bishops and believes an amateur player has winning chances here? Cant wait to see Nikos opionion on this topic!

  22. I’ll try and answer the main questions above. Firstly, to halt printing at this stage and change the book would cost several-thousand Euros. Not going to happen, unless of course one of the complainers would like to cover it.

    Personally, I agree with the suggestion of a nicely presented PDF file showing the missing line the way it would appear in the book. I’ll need to double check this with John, but can’t see why it would be a problem.

    Regarding move orders, Nikos usually says something about the pros and cons of the different options on move 2 and explains why he opted for 2.Nc3, 2.Nf3 or whatever.

    Finally, I edited this book and the name of the editor can be found on page 2, the same as with every book we have ever published. I don’t see any reason to engage further with a commenter who implies that we have been less than honest about who worked on a book. Especially someone who already insulted us in a similar way via email last year.

  23. Thanks Andrew. I for one will be quite content with the route you propose and wait with great expectation for the publication.

  24. Nikos Ntirlis

    Hey everyone!

    I appreciate the interest you have shown for this new book and the excellent feedback you gave me for my previous works.

    I have been working on this book for five years! Writing a book for Black is much easier! In the intro chapter, I explain how I approached the challenge of writing a White repertoire, and my general philosophy, which I hope you’ll find insightful.

    First, I apologize for the missing QID chapter. After 1.c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3.g3 b6 4. Bg2 Bb7 5. O-O Be7 (5… c5 transposes to the Hedgehog) 6. d4 O-O I recommend 7.h4!?, which nicely meets both of Black’s main pawn breaks: …d5 and …c5. It doesn’t refute the opening, but neither does a main line that would have taken 15 pages to analyze. Even though QID has fallen out of fashion, correspondence players have proved that it is still playable.

    Maybe I am biased, but I think it’s unfair that some of you are disappointed about a missing line. In the book, you’ll find plenty of new material, new directions, trendy lines that haven’t been examined elsewhere (to the best of my knowledge) and practical recommendations (secondary systems that aren’t as theoretical, but still give White a lot of winning chances).

    In most English repertoire books, authors have avoided discussing transpositions to main lines, to keep their works shorter. I didn’t want to do that, as I feel that transposing to the main lines of the Catalan and the KID for example, is the best way forward. Also, I examine a main line of the Grunfeld in the book!

    In order not to cause Jacob a heart attack, but also to sleep well at night knowing that I did the best I could, I had to cut a lot of things from the book, but I still managed to examine many lines wide enough and in sufficient depth. You’ll judge for yourselves how well I managed to pull off what seems to be an impossible task, but what I am really saying is that some of you might notice that your pet sideline isn’t examined. QID is another discussion, as it isn’t really a sideline, even though it is nowdays much rarer than it used to be. This is inevitable for a book of this size. But, I’ll always be more than happy to discuss any lines that you think are missing and provide you with my recommendation and analysis. You can contact me here, or on Twitter, or ask my editors for my email.

    As for the Catalan drawish endgame, the Magnus team confessed after the World Championship match that they misjudged how much drawish the endgame really is and that with the knowledge and experience they have now (after super GMs lost this endgame, including Nepo, a few times already in practice), they would probably consider entering it at least once. I did my best to examine the setup that White should go for.

    Ultimately, most lines will lead to a draw if they are analyzed exhaustively with an engine. That’s something that modern correspondence players seriously complain about these days. The actual data we have though from human games show us that despite what the engines say, many of the positions shown in the book are misplayed again and again by even top players. And the reason is that these positions are unbalanced enough to allow White players to feel confident enough.

    Those that will check my “English Middlegames” course will understand what I am talking about. And btw, the book has much more material than the course, but in the course we here able to go deeper in the most important types of middlegames resulting from these positions.

    Once again, thanks for your interest and I am certain that when the book is actually out, you’ll not be disappointed 🙂

  25. @ Nikos Ntrilis

    I have an interesting question.

    Most of the lines recommend can be reached a 1 Nf3 move order, bypassing the whole 1 c4 e5 complex.

    What specific lines would put you off playing 1 Nf3 rather than 1 c4.

  26. Benjamin Fitch

    Pretty likely that Black is merely “fine” after 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.b4, and it seems like pretty fun stuff for both sides, so it comes down to whether you prefer that or 1.c4 e5 for White (perhaps on an occasion-by-occasion basis).

  27. @gernot
    Ah, yes I thought as much (I play that line as Black myself).

    I usually go 1 Nf3 d5 d4 and take on the Slav/Semi Slav after 2…c6 or 2…Nf6 3 c4 c6. I suppose it’s all a matter taste. I’m used to following Khalifman’s sensationally good 1 Nf3 books.

  28. Benjamin Fitch

    Regarding the “quality” in Quality Chess in recent times, just consider (as one example) the very recent Gawain Jones KID volumes, also edited by Andrew (plainly listed on page 2). You can’t find better coverage anywhere, and it’s not even a slim margin.

  29. I think the excerpt of the book looks really nice. Nikos recommends lines that I always wanted to play, but there wasn’t an up to date book available. In my opninion the recommended lines are examined at a really good depth (looking at the pages spent for each variation).
    Personally I’m mostly interested in Chapter 3. I know that the 2…Lb4 line was recommended by Mikhalevski in his GM-repertoire. Did you find some really rare move or move order that is transposing into Variation B of chapter 3? Anyways it seems like a really nice work. I will buy it and i am looking forward reading it!

  30. John Christopher Simmons

    Interesting taking on the most main line catalan, called some places Gelller/Karpov line, with 6d4, thought would go with 6b3 as Nikos covered in some twitter posts.

    Dubov, part of Carlsen’s team, has discussed the endgame after 7Qc2 b5 on youtube. Personally would play 7…b6!? popularised by the young russian GM Bukavskin, who died in tragic circumstances, or 7…a6 which was the main line forever. To be honest always surprised there was such an explosion of interest in the catalan. Karpov seemed to have solved all problems in this line by the early eighties. In the Kasparov v Karpov matches any catalans were unofficial rest days.

    This book such give me a good idea what the problems, at least practical ones, are for black.

  31. @Benjamin Fitch
    I’m not sure what you mean by “no need” but the chessable courses also come with about 70 hours total of video explanations. Gawain Jones is a superb video presenter and I find the material both more entertaining and more memorable and intuitive when I can both read the book and watch his videos.

  32. Yes that Dubov interview was very interesting. You should also check Grandmaster Repertoire 1A – The Catalan by Boris Avrukh, this is just such a great book (also Srinath Chessable coursre is amazing). The Catalan is agressive, jet easy to play, good king safety and black has problems to solve – good enough for me 🙂 In my own games I feel that it is not even too important to remember many lines, most of the times it is possible to solve the problems over the board. So nice that in Semptember we will get a world class update on the Catalan Main line!

  33. @John Christopher Simmons
    Do you guys have a link to the Dubov interview on the Catalan endgame? Thanks a lot!

  34. See the rook endgame books now out the same time as Endgame Labyrinths in September. Too early for the pricing of these three and page count and whether soft or hardback?Nothing on coming soon
    Thanks ??

  35. Looking at the variation index, Black can force White out of his repertoire:
    1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 Nf6 (or 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c6) – after 3.g3 Black can play d6+g6 entering the Kings Indian Fianchetto. And after 3.Nc3 d5 it will be regular Slav.

  36. Will the Bhat hardback be available alongside this? A couple of shops are now listing the Nikos book…….but no sign of this.

  37. @Paul H
    While I agree with Gawain, there were real editorial differences and the book is an improvement on the course. Thanks to Andrew. But of course the source material before editing was the same and Gawain is one of the best authors there is.

  38. @Herbert K.
    I think that could be covered in the last chapter under 1…g6. Maybe some line where Black goes for a Modern Defence Set-Up with …d6 and …c6 vs 1.c4. 1…g6 could also transpose to …e5 lines. I have the impression that Nikos covered …d5 set-ups in the respective chapter. But in general you have a point thanks for the remark!

  39. so when the book will on sale and ask nikos to
    make a book on corr chess because there is noting on the market on this topic……i became a ccr master thanks to nikos books

  40. @hasanovic
    I actually believe that a good introductory book to correspondence chess, how it works, the basic techniques for analysis, etc. would interest more than a few people. It is an interesting world that suffers from lack of proper exposure to the masses.
    I would definitely second this motion, and for Nikos in particular to write it (his style is extremely well suited to such a book, I think), though I do wonder how much business sense it would make…

  41. @Johnny
    I agree. A book-version of Gawains 1.e4 e5 would be highly appreciated! I would buy the book(s) despite the fact, that I have the chessable-course already.

  42. I’m pleased to see that Playing the English now has a definite publication date of 30 August. I actually ordered the book from Quality Chess (and paid for it) back in February. So two points:
    1. I’d like to confirm that my order is still on the QC radar screen for delivery despite being placed six months ago (I tried to confirm by emailing QC but haven’t had a reply).
    2. Is it normal practice to offer books for sale so long in advance of their becoming available? I would have waited until nearer the time if I’d known. Maybe this particular book took much longer to get out than expected.

  43. @JamesToon: Asking authors time and again where they’re at with their books is a debatable *pleasure* of being an editor. In his intro to Understanding the Grünfeld, Jonathan Rowson thanked his family “for their ever-present support and stretching my imagination by
    asking the same question- “How’s the book going?”- at frequent intervals.”

  44. I am pretty excited about this book!
    But maybe you could shed some light on what exactly constitutes the advantage of the 1.c4 move order in comparison to the 1.Nf3 move order? The later circumvents the 1.c4 e5 possibility.

    Is 1.Nf3 d5 really that much of a problem theoretically-wise? You could even here go for 2.g3 and reach the main line catalan after f.e. 2…Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.0-0 Be7 5.d4 followed by 6.c4.

    What line(s) exactly put you off to go for the 1.Nf3 move order?

    Or is it maybe because 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 g6!? is such a tough nut to crack?

  45. What is the main advantage of the 1.c4 move order in contrast to the 1.Nf3 move order?

    If one wants to reach a catalan one might as well could go 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 (3…c5!?) 4.c4 which would transpose to lines recommended in the book as far as I can see?

    Or are you “afraid” of 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 g6!? which basically leads to a symmetrical Grunfeld which is indeed a very tough nut to crack?

    One additional question: What is your recommended approach against the slav setup? Do you aim for the d4+c4 structure or the c4/cxd5+d3 structure?

  46. I was wondering about the KID move order, where after 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 Black can play the nasty 4…c5 and we must transpose to the Maroczy Bind, i doubt there is a reasonable alternative.

  47. @prody
    But it’s the ideal form of the Maroczy Bind for White, where White can get in Be3 after 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Nc6 (for example). White scores great from there.

  48. I think pretty much all forms of Maroczy are ‘ideal’ for White 🙂 And that White should be very happy to see such a passive system and not a real King’s Indian!
    In any case, I suspect there will be coverage of these systems via the KID move order 6.Be2 c5 7.0-0 cxd4 8.Nxd4.
    @Benjamin Fitch

  49. John NS – I would think the FC version probably won’t contain the extra QID material. We tend to pass on typos and other miscellaneous small corrections to FC, as those don’t change the product in the way that entire pages of new content would do. We will of course provide FC with a link to the update.

    James – Indeed it’s not normal for us to sell books so soon before publication. With PTE, there were some unforeseen delays. Had we known it would take that amount of time to get it published, we would not have made it available for sale so early. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    Robin – 1.Nf3 d5 is of course the argument for preferring 1.c4. Black has options such as 2.g3 Bg4 3.Bg2 Nd7, as well as 2…g6 as you mentioned.

  50. @Robin
    I don´t think there is anything wrong with 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3, Sielecki has a repertoire on chessable based on this move order. But delaying c4 offers Black opportunities with early …b5 plans.

  51. ….the Sielecki thing comes with an early d4, though, as of move one… so quite a different animal. Anyway, I am looking forward to get the Ntirlis book.

  52. @Bulkington
    Which course by Sielecki do you mean? I have a lot of Chessable courses (from Sielecki), but this move order is not in it, as far as I know. He has courses with 1.d4 2.Nf3 3.g3 and 1.Nf3 2.c4 or vice versa.

  53. @Robin

    In addition to Andrew’s response, there are a few other issues with 1.Nf3 compared to 1.c4. Of course, they all revolve around Black’s 1…d5. Next to the mentioned lines, there are also the respectable options 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nd7, and 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nc6, which both practically force 3.d4, leading to very different structures than the repertoire. Both have been quite popular in recent years, with their respective growing body of theory.

    In addition to that, all the Reverse Benoni-type lines are more annoying in the 1.Nf3 d5 move-orders. After, for example, something like 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 d4, we have that Benoni structure, but Black had to play …e6 to prepare the d-pawn moving forward, and will later most likely have to play …e6-e5 anyway. So Black is basically playing the white side of a Benoni, two tempi down (or White is playing a Benoni two tempi up). 1.Nf3, on the other hand, allows Black to play 1…d5 in response, so a line like 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c5 4.c4 d4 gives Black a decent position early on, since there was no “wasted” tempo with …c6 or …e6 necessary to prepare …d7-d5.

    All this is not to say that 1.c4 is strictly better than 1.Nf3, which would obviously be nonsense anyway – both first moves are pretty much equally good.

    1.c4 allows 1…e5 while making 1…d5 undesirable, while 1.Nf3 allows 1…d5 while preventing 1…e5. To a large degree, I feel it is a matter of taste which one you prefer. For example, if you play a Sicilian with Black, it would make a lot of sense to start with 1.c4, since you should feel right at home in the structures after 1…e5.

    And to be honest, I personally feel that Black has an easier time equalizing with various options after 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 (2…g6, 2…Bg4, 2…Nf6 and 3…c5, or 2…Nd7!?/2…Nc6!?), or 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4! (3.g3 Nc6, or 3.b4 and Black has established lines in 3…c5 & 3…f6, but also crazy stuff like 3…g5!?), than after 1.c4 e5. So honestly, after 1.Nf3 d5, I would go back into Queen’s Gambit lines with 2.d4 and 3.c4. But that might be my own personal bias due to being a longtime English and Sicilian aficionado 😉

  54. @Griot
    I feel that either 1.c4 or 1.Nf3 should ideally be played with an eye to transposing to certain 1.d4 openings, while circumventing others (by making other concessions); and that such an approach is by far more challenging for Black than trying to play in ‘Reti’ or ‘English’ style all the time.

    1.Nf3 was the ‘obvious’ pick back in the 90s and 00s, because it avoided 2 of the 3 main and most demanding Black openings of the time: the Gruenfeld and the Nimzo/Queen’s Indian (the third was the Semi-Slav). It made total sense back then, and it was much more ‘obvious’ than allowing 1.c4 e5.

    But times change. Already for quite a few years, after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 everyone goes 3…d5; and the Gruenfeld is only rarely seen, comparatively.
    So now 1.Nf3 is much less attractive from this perspective: after 1…d5 2.d4, one avoids pretty much… nothing.There’s just not that much to gain anymore by using 1.Nf3 as a transpositional weapon, and the multitude of good and effective responses by Black to the ‘Reti’ lines after 1…d5 (namely 2.g3, 2.c4 – but also the 2.e3 tries) rather negate its purpose.

    But 1.c4 does not allow this. Even if Black wants to play QGD-style, they have to commit to …e6 first, as noted above; it’s a better way to reach the ‘Reti’ lines too. And there is no QGA anymore either And if White wants (not what Nikos presents, but another common possible approach), they could almost ‘force’ a Carlsbad if Black insists on …e6 and …d5. In addition, White retains carte blanche against the KID, more or less, and even more Anti-Gruenfeld move orders.
    The downside of course is allowing 1…e5, a very good and rather theoretical world of systems that are just as good for Black as those White tries to avoid. It’s a matter of choice.

    Modern NN engines very strongly prefer …d5 setups against 1.d4, in various forms, and a central setup with d5+e6 is at the heart of their ‘understanding’. So yes, after 1.Nf3 it indeed is 1…d5 that asks the toughest questions in terms of forming a repertoire, both from a theoretical and a practical perspective.
    The funny thing is, you’d expect these engines then to like 1.c4 more, since it stops a direct …d5; but no, they feel that allowing …e5 is even ‘worse’ (in relative terms, of course!) and, between the two, they would usually still opt for 1.Nf3. In fact, since then they will generally transpose to 1.d4 main lines from there, lines that also involve the move Nf3 early on, they see not much difference to 1.d4 after all…

    Conclusion: trying to wrap your head around these questions will drive you mad! Life is so much easier for 1.e4 players :-p

  55. @middlewave
    100% agree with the comments that 1 c4 and 1 Nf3 allow White to play specific 1 d4 openings while avoiding others. Sticking blindly to English/Reti is very limiting. Which is why the OFWATK books were so good (although repertoire is outdated). I’d love someone to do something similar (Nikos has partly done this by transposing to main line KID & Catalan).

    I play both 1 c4 and 1 Nf3 basically to avoid NID, Benoni/Benko, ACG, Budapest etc.
    I am happy to transpose into other main line 1 d4 stuff, it may seem like a bit more work, but openings repertoires are very much a personal choice.

  56. @Andrew Greet

    there were some posts here refering to lines/move orders that might not have been covered. I simply would like to ask whether these are covered in the book. For example 4…c5 in the Kingsindian and the …c6, …d6, …g6, …Nf6 set-up in the reti move order against the slav.

  57. 4…c5 in the KID: yes, this is in the book.
    1…c6 followed by …Nf6 and …g6: no, Nikos only considered …2…d5. Considering the stylistic differences between the Slav and KID, I would estimate the odds of encountering 1…c6 followed by …Nf6, …g6 and …d6 to be fairly low. Still, it’s a clever idea, so well done and thanks for pointing it out.

  58. I want’t to ask a big favour from QC: I am playing a correspondence game with a variation from Chapter 2, page 65, 7.0-0 0-0 8.d3. My opponent played 8…h6, and now I am curious if Nikos plays 9.Nxd5 or 9.Bd2 (or something else…). I ordered the book and expect to have it on wednesday. So if you could help me out, please? I am looking forward to the book!

  59. @TD
    I saw your question and checked the book, but then scrolled down and see your question has been answered.
    As you’ll see soon enough, the explanation is that 8…h6 prepares …Nf6, so it makes life easier if White avoids giving Black that option. Also, it just so happens that 9.Nxd5 followed by Bd2 (and usually Bc3) is a good option against virtually any normal move Black may try in that variation.

  60. Have got the book on order with chess and bridge. In the catalan playing a guessing game that my favorite 7…b6!? will be answered by 8Nf-d2. The resulting positions look a tiny bit awkward, and lot less fun for black than the exchange sac line 8Ne5. The old main line I think only 7…a6 8a4 can cause problems.
    Not very interested in the professional 7…b5 for black or any such line where if remember buckets of theory might draw.

  61. Quoting myself “Have you already decided whether and if so where the books will be published online (chessable/chesstempo/forwardchess)?”

    It would be nice if you put a bit more effort into announcing where you publish your books. I unfortunately bought this book at forward chess only to find out today that chess tempo (which I very much prefer) also has it. Is it so hard to come up with a simple scheme which tells customers where a book is going to be published (a CT or FC next to the announcements would do)?

  62. I see that the book is now published which is great!

    When will the QID material be available, separate from the book itself?

  63. @Nikos Ntirlis
    Hello Nikos, I am busy incorporating your excellent book in my repertoire files when I saw the game Carlstedt-Ntirlis, Odense 2012. You will probably know that Carlstedt himself has also written a (small) book on 1.c4 ? I found that game in my database, but to my surprise your surname was written as ‘Dirlis’. Was that a mistake or did you later change your name? Just curious.

  64. @TD
    In Greek, ‘Nt’ is pronounced exactly like ‘D’ in English/German; but in Greek we do not have a letter corresponding to ‘D’ (we have ‘delta’, but that one is pronounced differently).
    For this reason, it is extremely common for non-Greek speakers, especially Germans, to instinctively use the ‘D’ spelling in such cases. I would imagine this was the reason.

  65. @Nikos Ntirlis
    Hello Nikos, I got your book today. I looked at the game with IM Carlstedt who is an expert in the English opening himself (he published a book in german in 2009 and in 2019 his “Jonnys Englisch” course for another publisher. Congratulations you won the opening battle!

    I don’t know what’s the best answer if black goes for the Reversed Dragon Fianchetto system as Bojkov reccomends in his “Beating the English”.

  66. Still no news about the missing QID chapter??

    It would be very helpful if this could be posted up in the next couple of days given we now have the actual book?

  67. It would be very helpful if the QID chapter could be posted up in the next couple of days given we now have the actual book?

  68. There are one or two other missing lines which deserve an update. So we will probably look to include those with the QID.
    We are currently all hands on deck trying to get Conceptual Rook Endgames away for printing. Please be patient and we will get that update done when possible.

  69. @Andrew Greet
    Not sure if you are keeping a list of missing lines, but things I’ve noticed (or rather, haven’t noticed!) so far:

    1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nxc3!? was given it’s own chapter by Roiz in his Elegant English course on chessable.

    1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nf3 d6 6.O-O Nf6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 is assumed to transpose to chapter 5B but 8…Bd7!? is a respectable enough line (I think Eingorn recommended it in “A Rock-Solid Chess Opening Repertoire for Black” and I’ve played it!)

    Minor one: 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 f5 is not mentioned, although 3.Nf3 probably transposes after 3…d6 or 3…Nc6 but not after 3…e4?!

    Another minor one: 1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.d4 and now 5…f5 would try to sneak into a Leningrad Dutch, although after a quick look I assume 6.e4! is strong.

    Overall I’m happy with the book so far (mainly gone through chapters 1-8) and am enjoying reading it.

  70. I have the book, and I couldn’t find any specific coverage of the Old Indian type of setups. By that, I mean attempts to set up the Old Indian via a 1…e5, 1…d6 or 1…Nf6 move order.

    For example, after the most traditional move order 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d6 I can’t find this anywhere in the book, either covered via a 1…Nf6 or 1…d6 move order. If white plays 3. Nc3 then black can play 3…e5. If white plays 4 d4 e4 (which seems to score well for black) or black could choose to keep building their Old Indian with 4 Nbd7.

    Perhaps some coverage of a system against the Old Indian is needed too, or I would be more than grateful if somebody could let me know where it is covered in the book.

  71. On the QID lines.

    Keep it Simple 1.d4 by Sielecki gives a couple of nice chapters on the QID that would also arise from the Playing the English move order. That’s what I was using before this book came out although he gives the main line 7.Nc3 rather than 7.h4 that Playing the English would have suggested.

    It also covers the …b6 line in the Catalan which the Playing the English completely missed out,

  72. @James2
    Agree on this; a setup similar to the slower lines of the Classical KID would probably be most appropriate here, but there are some fine points, so some coverage of the Old Indian would be appreciated!

  73. John Christopher Simmons

    The b6 line in the catalan is covered, and wrinkle is suggested that I haven’t seen mention elsewhere. Assuming mean the position in main-line after 7Qc2 where instead of 7..a6 which had been main line forever, 7…b6!?. Also 6…b6 instead of 6…d5xc4.
    Mentioning the catalan After 7…a6 8a4 Bd7 9Qxc4 Bc6 10Bg5 Nb-d7 11Nc3 I don’t really understand why it is so obvious white has an advantage after 11…h6 12BxN NxN 13a5! Black has the two bishops and can use the b4 square. Lots of top class GM’s have defended position after 13…Qd6, whilst Giri has played 13…Bd6 followed by Qe7.

    I am guessing supporting analysis for here, and elsewhere can’t be included because the book with get too big…

  74. ScottF :
    @Andrew Greet
    Not sure if you are keeping a list of missing lines, but things I’ve noticed (or rather, haven’t noticed!) so far:
    1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nxc3!? was given it’s own chapter by Roiz in his Elegant English course on chessable.
    1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.Nf3 d6 6.O-O Nf6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 is assumed to transpose to chapter 5B but 8…Bd7!? is a respectable enough line (I think Eingorn recommended it in “A Rock-Solid Chess Opening Repertoire for Black” and I’ve played it!)
    Minor one: 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 f5 is not mentioned, although 3.Nf3 probably transposes after 3…d6 or 3…Nc6 but not after 3…e4?!
    Another minor one: 1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.d4 and now 5…f5 would try to sneak into a Leningrad Dutch, although after a quick look I assume 6.e4! is strong.
    Overall I’m happy with the book so far (mainly gone through chapters 1-8) and am enjoying reading it.

    Yeah, it’s really bad for a book in the works for so many years; un-like Quality Chess really

  75. I think that’s a bit unfair.

    The English is not a forcing/concrete opening like many 1 e4 or 1 d4 defences. I think understanding ideas is more important you cannot cover every possible option in such a flexible line.

    Is 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 g3 d5 5 cd Nd5 6 Bg2 Be6 covered anywhere. Seems to have been played a lot but not coveted only really 6…Nb6. I’m guessing strategy is same as main lines however?

    The missing QID is indeed a MAJOR faux pas, but hey enough has been said on that.

  76. For those of us familiar with this forum, a nice PDF supplement will do the trick nicely, but if there’s still such a thing as books on a shelf in a store (?) or on a table at a chess tournament, I’m a little concerned about those future buyers who won’t know about the PDF (unless maybe there’s an insert in all the copies with instructions on how to get the supplement).

  77. We have received word from Nikos that he is working on the updates and hopes to be ready with them early next week. Then we will go through the usual process of editing, typesetting etc.

    The update file will cover the most important missing lines that we have become aware of. Please remember that being a single-volume repertoire, the book is not going to mention every option in every position. For instance, Scott pointed out a terrible Leningrad attempt where White simply plays 6.e4 and is probably close to winning already. This kind of thing does not count as a “missing line”. We want to cover the important/popular stuff in enough detail for you to handle the white side successfully, and assume a certain level of general understanding/intelligence/ability to ‘fill in the blanks’ among the readers. With important stuff such as this QID transposition, we will fix it. But we will not spoon-feed you an answer to every silly move which has ever been tried. Or even every sensible move.

    Finally, no we are not going to place an insert in every copy. Those who check our website can get the updates. Those who don’t will still have a superb book.

  78. Sounds great. And there very likely is no such thing as a chess player who wouldn’t know about the Quality Chess website, so I’ll put my worrying mind to rest.

  79. @Andrew Greet </i
    My experience of QC is that they do listen to readers' comments about missing lines, in updates but it's a bit after the fact when the book has already hit the printers. I don't play the English but it's clear you have some fantastic beta testers on tap on this forum who have spotted issues the second it was published and I've had issues myself with lack of clarity in what I was buying until I'd already paid up and no purchaser wants to print out an update at home and staple it to their new book . Chessable has this system…not costing any more to you as a firm as you've got willing volunteers and it spots these issues before it hits the stands and no doubt would save you time as editors long term.

  80. In today’s world of computer analyzed lines to equality everywhere, this book is superb in identifying interesting tries for White. With regard to the missing lines, it is inevitable. We all now have a resource to add to our repertoire. In today’s world, mixing and matching is important anyway. Bravo.

  81. @Phil Collins
    If only there weren’t missing lines in Shankland’s repertoire too. For example, his latest course “Part 3” misses the move-order 1.c4 e5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 d6. Shankland very briefly mentions that 5.d3 transposes, but that’s not at all true after 5…Nf6, which forces White into lines not discussed in his series.

    Furthermore, I assume that putting all 3 Shankland parts into book form would exceed the amount af material that can be covered in a single book (unless you make it 900 pages long, and who would do such a thing…).

  82. Hi folks, I finally got around to editing Nikos’s updates on the QID and other missing lines from Playing the English. The material will be typeset and made available on our website soon – possibly as early as tomorrow if all goes well.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top