Winning with the Botvinnik System in The English Opening – IM Valeri Lilov

The English opening is a flank opening, which means that white starts by moving a flank pawn, in this case, the “c pawn” instead of the typical central pawns of the e or d columns.

Many chess players can consider this opening a little “unusual”, but wait a minute before you make your judgment until you know all the details!

First of all, the English opening is considered one of the most successful openings. That means that when you play it, you’re automatically maximizing your chances of winning statistically.

Second, The English Opening is very flexible and can transpose to a lot of different lines of 1. d4, avoiding the unpleasant Nimzo-Indian Defense and the Grunfeld Defense completely.

Many super-strong GMs use it as an option, including Mikhail Botvinnik, Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, and Magnus Carlsen. I think the English opening is one of the best openings for advanced Players.

The Botvinnik System

The Botvinnik system in the English opening comes after the following move order: 1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0  5.e4, this move by White is what initiates what’s known by many chess players as the “Botvinnik System”.

Black usually continues with 5… d6, 5… c5, or even 5… e6 in order to put a stop somehow to White’s intents to completely dominate the center.

IM Valeri Livov analyzes a game that was played between the very well known GM Yasser Seirawan vs GM Milan Vukic in 1979.

The game illustrates how White obtains a superior piece play by gaining a huge space advantage very early in the opening and then eliminates the Opponent’s pieces that have the most potential of creating threats.

Seirawan takes this game as an example of superior minor pieces in his “Winning Chess Strategies” book. Some of the key points to pay attention to are the early 11.Bxd4 by White, knowing that his knight can go to b5 after black mistakenly played a5 earlier.

Winning With The Botvinnik System In The English Opening - Im Valeri Lilov

Also 20.Nexd4. If black tries to save his bishop with 21…Bg7, then 22.f6 Bxf6 23.Rxf6 and White is in complete control of the situation.

Winning With The Botvinnik System In The English Opening - Im Valeri Lilov

24.Rf4! is the final touch that puts an end to any of Black’s hopes to survive, as it now starts a deadly combination of Rook and Queen, which delivers a lethal attack and leaves the black pieces completely defenseless.

Winning With The Botvinnik System In The English Opening - Im Valeri Lilov

Definitely, a very instructive game that IM Lilov will explain to you with all of the details required to understand these type of positions and learn how to take advantage of it.

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