Playing the English – PDF Update

Playing the English has received great reviews, but readers also pointed out some lines that should have been included in the book. So we asked author Nikos Ntirlis to produce an update and he delivered more excellent material. You can read the APPENDIX PDF at that link. The same material is also linked at the book’s webpages, so it should be easy to find for all readers. Hope you enjoy the update and that it helps 1.c4 players to even better results.

48 thoughts on “Playing the English – PDF Update”

  1. Is there any plan of including this lines into the book and printing a new edition?

    Thanks and congratos for the good work

  2. Hi there. Could you please tell me when Dr. Rios’s book ”Chess imbalances: A grandmaster guide” will be available? When I first clicked on “coming soon” icon, it initially said Provisional release date 2023 but now it says 2024. Any update?

  3. It would seem only fair if he wrote “Playing 1.c4 c5” for Black (to go on the shelf next to “Playing 1.d4 d5” and “Playing 1.e4 e5”).

  4. I like the idea of Nikos extending “Playing 1.d4 d5” and “Playing 1.e4 e5” further towards a complete repertoire for Black. “Playing 1.c4 c5” is one way to do it.

    Another way is that he could cover how to, if reasonable, offer White the opportunity to transpose into one of the other books, and then cover what to do if White declines Black’s kind offer, and what to do if such transposition is not reasonable.

    I’d buy it.

  5. John Christopher Simmons

    It’s not really needed. In “Playing 1.d4 d5” Nikos already gave a short rep against 1c4 with e6 and d5, he mentioned it in the English book.

  6. Benjamin Fitch :
    It would seem only fair if he wrote “Playing 1.c4 c5” for Black (to go on the shelf next to “Playing 1.d4 d5” and “Playing 1.e4 e5”).

    It could be a great series.
    Next volume “Playing 1.g4 g5”.

  7. In the QID material, Nikos explains his thinking about recommending 7 h4!? in contrast to , say, 7 Re1 but he does not cover Black responding with 7..Ne4 which is his main answer to 7 Re1!

    I recently had an online game against a 2450 rated player who did play Ne4 in response to h4. I cannot find a good response for White which yields anything much at all.

  8. When Nikos discusses 7.Re1, his main line is 7…d5. 7…Ne4 is mentioned in a note.

    You could investigate 8.Nfd2 and see if there’s a point where h2-h4 proves more useful than Re1. Alternatively, 8.Bf4 is approved by Stockfish, and it’s easy to imagine there will be some lines where the h4-pawn is useful in stabilizing the bishop on f4.

  9. … I cannot find a good response for White which yields anything much at all.

    This perfectly describes the situation before White’s first move. Which historical player (maybe Botvinnik?) said, “Wait for your opponent to get an idea; it’s sure to be wrong.” Obviously, this is slightly more likely to occur sometime after the opening phase.

  10. Hi

    Slightly off topic. I want to start to play proper ICCF correspondence tournaments. What is teh best way to use Correspondence databases and engines in such play? I can’t seem to find any decent resources on how to approach the exercise ie what openings to chose, how to study the positions and the databases etc.

    Any pointers welcome.

  11. @Chessdude
    Generally, for ICCF, when I prepare against a specific opponent, these are the things I notice:

    – Does he have a certain pet line, or he jumps around from opening to opening?
    – In his pet lines, does he play one variation and with good results (so, better not go there), or he changes after each game (this becomes a candidate opening to play)?

    After looking at this, for every player, then I am thinking for the tournament in general:

    – How many point do I need? Do I want to win, or to get a norm? Or to qualify?
    – If I need +1 or +2, then I focus on my White openings
    – If I need +3 (or more) I also need to be more ambitious with Black

    Then, I return to each opponent and I try to understand against who I may have more chances to push for anything, and against who I may need to kill the game as soon as possible and get a draw. Getting a couple of quick draws is important, as it may give me more time to focus on other games. But, “killing” the game and “drawing” the game is a different thing. I may simplify the game and be ready to make a draw, but I’ll keep it going a little longer. Quick draws give your opponent information and a specific opponent might abandon the tournament later and you may miss a good chance to score a win because you drew earlier than you should.

    Also, be ready to get the things as you planned in less than 1/3 of the time. So, be ready to adapt as you go. Especially if your opponent plays a “dubious” opening, then put this game immediately to the candidates for you pushing for the win.

    When for a certain game you have marked that you push for the win, do this. Generally search more and use more analysis engines (not only Stockfish). Analyze wider and deeper and try to set traps as much as you can. When you decide on a move, give yourself at least one extra day to analyze it further. Avoid exchanging pieces and avoid winning a pawn but giving your opponent the two bishops as compensation (the famous “Marshall drawing method” which is very effective in corr chess).

    For your other games, be more efficient and use Stockfish only and there is no need to give extra analysis days.

    If you realize that an opponent that you wanted to draw, is playing to win against you, possibly using the method I described above, it might be tough :), especially if they are a good player. Be patient, it happens.

    The best way to win games today in corr is to be patient and accumulate small inaccuracies. When your opponent realize that they should have been more careful and they rushed a couple of decisions, they can go into a panic mode. They may try to force a simplification, which means more chances to play another inaccurate move. This is where your chance is. But, don’t get depressed if you fight well and still draw. For the games that you’ll get chances, only 1 our of 8 or 1 out of 10 you’ll manage to win. But, when you get chances DON’T RUSH! Play slowly, decide on your move but analyze for one more day etc, as I said above.

    I hope these notes will help you!

  12. Hi Nikos,

    Fascinating stuff. Many thanks.

    It has been fascinating reading also what little material there is on corr. I enjoyed Pusy’s book but also Baumbach’s on the Champion of Champions. Some extraordinary games.

    But do you think that era is effectively of historic interest? I mean Umansky played the Pirc in this tournament with stunning results.

    Do you think players can still play openings like that? (I love the Pirc!) which is a roundabout way of saying other than preparing specific openings, do you think normal OTB openings are all playable, or should it be Berlins, QGD, Nimzos, etc? Although v tempted to try your English repertoire

  13. “It’s sad” –

    Happy new year, Nikos and keep up your excellent work.
    On chesspub.com I had some time ago a small discussion about draw in cc with T. Bragesjö, he gave a line in KID as a perfect draw line:

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O
    6.Be2 e5 7.O-O exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.Kh1 d5
    11.cxd5 cxd5 12.Bg5 Nc6 13.Bb5 h6 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Bxc6 hxg5
    16.Bxa8 d4 17.Ne2 d3 18.Ng3 Ba6 19.Bc6 Re6 20.Qa4 Qb6
    21.Bd5 Nxd5 22.exd5 Re5 23.Rfe1 Rxd5 24.Qe8+ Bf8 25.Re7 Qf6
    26.Qa8 Re5 27.Rxe5 Qxe5

    My comment was:
    My entire chess life – over 40 years – 7. …ed4 was possible, but White is slightly better, 10. … d5 dubious, due to 11. cd5 ed5 12. Bg5! and after 12. ….de4 13. Ndb5 was best and black is under pressiure and you give me this strange line, where White is better indeed, but engines can hold it.

    I understand (nearly) nothing about chess, I’m just a (strong) amateur, who enjoys every book you write, an addicted customer, who still wants to improve, albeit in vain, but there’s nothing sad about it, it’s the joy of the game!
    Sometimes a break from playing helps to come up with new ideas – good luck!

  14. When remote lie detectors improve (they measure slight changes in eye behaviors), we’ll be able to simply take a lie detector test and assert that we didn’t use the help of an engine during the game when registering a win or a draw. Then correspondence chess will be super fun again!

  15. @Andrew Greet
    Other than the Nimzo-Indian book, do you plan on letting us know at some point what they are?
    Usually you do a catalogue where you give out such information.

    Personally hoping for new stuff, QC has not previously published such as Ruy Lopez (White), Kan and Classical Sicilians.

    Thank you in advance ?

  16. Certainly Doc.

    Firstly the Nimzo repertoire will be split into two volumes. It’s a complete repertoire for Black after 1.d4 Nf6, and when we started editing and familiarizing ourselves with the work that had been delivered, it became clear that it was far too much for a single volume. I assume this won’t come as a huge surprise to anyone.

    I can also reveal that we will be doing another opening book from Nikos. Full details to be revealed later.

    There is at least one other opening book which is well over 50% written, but it’s a bit too early to give details.

    I’m probably forgetting something else. But, anyway that gives you a bit more information for now, and we will make further announcements when we’re ready.

  17. Hello everyone,
    I have two questions:
    1. where can I find the position after: 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.d5 Nd5 6.Bg2 Nf6?
    2. is it possible to start with 1.Nf3 and play the repertoire / where is this not possible?
    best regards

  18. After 1.Nf3 d5, you can play 2.h3 and then play the upcoming two-volume 1.d4 Nf6 repertoire from Quality Chess (with colors reversed). For example, if Black is someone who always plays the Trompovsky as White, they’ll be very frustrated after 2.h3.

  19. Andrew Greet :
    Certainly Doc.
    Firstly the Nimzo repertoire will be split into two volumes. It’s a complete repertoire for Black after 1.d4 Nf6, and when we started editing and familiarizing ourselves with the work that had been delivered, it became clear that it was far too much for a single volume. I assume this won’t come as a huge surprise to anyone.
    I can also reveal that we will be doing another opening book from Nikos. Full details to be revealed later.
    There is at least one other opening book which is well over 50% written, but it’s a bit too early to give details.
    I’m probably forgetting something else. But, anyway that gives you a bit more information for now, and we will make further announcements when we’re ready.

    Am in thinking that the Nimzo repertoire after 3 Nf3 is based on 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 d5 4 Nc3 dxc4

  20. Dear Andrew,
    can you already disclose which route the Nimzo book will go after 3.Nf3? Will it go into QGD territory (possibly with a Ragozin in mind) or stay “independent” with a Bogo- or Queen’s Indian?
    Thanks a lot!

  21. Renier will recommend meeting 3.Nf3 with 3…d5. With that in mind, the companion volume to “Playing the Nimzo-Indian” is provisionally titled “Beating the Queen’s Gambit – Indian Style!”.
    We were struggling to come up with a title that was punchy, different and also communicated the essence of the book, and I am proud to have thought of the above title myself. Usually one would tend to think of 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 as an ‘Indian’ repertoire, but since the great majority of the book is devoted to 3.Nf3 d5 and 3.g3 d5, the “Queen’s Gambit” element of the title is justified. This volume will also deal with White’s various sidelines after 1.d4 Nf6. In many of those lines the author prefers to avoid a quick …d5, hence the “Indian Style!” reference in the title.

    As a few people guessed, the recommendation against 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 will be the Vienna with 4…dxc4.

    1. I hope that the author is including Georgiev’s two-volume “Attacking 1…d5” as a source or bibliography entry, because there’s really insightful coverage from the White side of the Catalan in one of the volumes and the Vienna in the other. Georgiev’s work has made me steer clear of the Catalan as Black, so I’d be disappointed if his work gets ignored in this upcoming repertoire.

      1. Hi Benjamin,

        We won’t be dealing with Georgiev’s Catalan recommendations, as the two repertoires do not overlap at that point due to the use of different move orders.

        However, the book will deal with his suggestions against the Vienna.

  22. Hello,
    in the appendix Ntirlis starts the old indian with 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3. However, everywhere else it is 2. Nf3, otherwise some QGD are not accessible. The side line 4… e4 is not available to black if the second move is 2. Nf3.

    1. I noticed that too Tobias, regarding 2 Nc3 in the appendix. I was looking for coverage (following 2 Nf3) of the following line (which Chessbase have just released a 60 Minute program on by Bauer) which could be played by black with a 2 Nf3 or 2 Nc3 move order:

      1 c4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 g6 4 Nc3 Bf5. It has been quite popular in 2023 and I don’t think it is covered. I could be wrong but I couldn’t find it in the book or the appendix.

  23. Hello,
    I’m really enjoying this book. I too missed that the QID was missing. I have the book on forwards chess- is it possible to update the book on forward chess because it’s much easier to navigate lines there than a pdf file.

  24. Regarding the Old Indian update, it looks like Nikos just had the Old Indian tabiya in his head and accidentally moved the knights in the “wrong” way when entering the moves in his ChessBase file.
    After 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d6, you could go for 3.Nc3, and if 3…e5 4.d4 we transpose to the update.

    As for the Nimzo/Vienna books, editing is well underway but it’s still a bit too soon to announce a publication date. We will do it when we’re ready.

    1. Good afternoon Andrew,

      I’m not sure if this is the correct place for this question, but I wanted to ask if there was anything in the works at the moment on the QGA for black?

      Thank you for your time.

    1. “is it possible to update the book on forward chess because it’s much easier to navigate lines there than a pdf file.”

      The Forward Chess version was already updated some months ago. If you bought the FC version before that and downloaded it, then you might be looking at an old version. If you delete your FC download of ‘Playing the English’ and then download it again (free of course), you should see the new version with an Appendix at the end.

  25. Hi,

    It’s great to see that there will be a full repertoire after 1.d4 Nf6. I would like to know if you are planning to publish a Sicilian Four Knights book since it would be a great opening to be paired with the Sveshnikov book by Pavlovic. I also would like to ask whether you are going to publish a Repertoire book from the White?

    Greetings

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