English Defence
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b6 black pawn
e6 black pawn
c4 white pawn
d4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
Moves1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 or 1.d4 b6
OriginP. N. Wallis
ParentFranco-Indian Defence

The English Defence is a chess opening characterised by the moves:

1. d4 e6
2. c4 b6


The English Defence was rarely seen in master play before the Second World War, but early instances can be found in the games of Henry Bird, Gyula Breyer, Aron Nimzowitsch and Richard Reti. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the Leicester player P. N. Wallis investigated the potential of the opening, and in the 1970s it was taken up by several leading English players such as Tony Miles and Raymond Keene.[1] During this period Viktor Korchnoi employed the English Defence successfully in game 6 of his Candidates semi-final match against Lev Polugaevsky at Évian 1977 (see below).

The English Defence remains rare in grandmaster play, but has been used (often as a surprise weapon) by players such as Nigel Short, Alexander Morozevich, Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Grischuk and Richard Rapport. The most frequent high-level practitioners have been Jon Speelman, Edvins Kengis and, more recently, Georg Meier.


After 1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6, Black allows White to form a broad pawn centre with 3.e4, which Black will then attempt to undermine in hypermodern style with moves such as ...Bb7, ...Bb4, and sometimes even ...Qh4 and/or ...f5.

Common lines are as follows:

1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 3.e4 Bb7 4.Bd3 Bb4+ 5.Nc3 f5 6.Qe2 Nf6.

1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 3.e4 Bb7 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.Ne2 Nb4 6.Nbc3 NxBd3 7.QxNd3 Ne7 8.0-0 d6.

1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 3.e4 Bb7 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.f3 (or Bd3, transposing to the first line above) f5.

If White decides against playing e4, for example by opting for 3.Nc3, play will likely transpose to a form of b6 Nimzo-Indian Defence, for example via 3...Bb7 4.Nf3 Bb4 5.Qc2 Nf6.

White can also transpose to a King's Pawn opening with 2.e4, in which case Black will typically proceed with either 2...d5 (French Defence) or 2...b6 (Owen's Defence).

The English Defence can also arise via a 1.d4 b6 move order, especially at club level where some players adopt 1...b6/2...Bb7 as a universal system.

Example games

See also


  1. ^ Lawton, Geoff (2003). Tony Miles:It's Only Me. Batsford. p. 281. ISBN 0-7134-8809-3.
  2. ^ "Lev Polugaevsky vs. Viktor Korchnoi, Candidates Semifinal (1977), Évian-les-Bains". Chessgames.com.
  3. ^ "Zsuzsa Polgar vs. Jonathan Speelman, Nederland 57/53 (1993)". Chessgames.com. Archived from the original on 2014-05-25. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
  4. ^ "Filip vs Kovalenko (2014) Iasi Open 2014".