The English Opening.

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
NickFaulks
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Re: The English Opening.

Post by NickFaulks » Sun Mar 22, 2020 4:36 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 2:31 pm
(There IS something up with the SF used on that site, surely).
Yes, it's complete garbage. How many times?

Tim Harding
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Re: The English Opening.

Post by Tim Harding » Sun Mar 22, 2020 11:05 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 2:33 pm
IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:48 am
The 1843 match between Staunton and Saint-Amant has six games where Staunton opened 1.c4. That might be the origin.
This is the view of Modern Chess Openings 10th edition (1965):
..derives its name from its association with Howard Staunton who played it against St Amant in their match (1843) and again in the England v France team match (1843) as well as the historic 1851 London tournament.
Staunton himself, in his Handbook (1847) gives it no name but refers to it as "Irregular", though wryly notes that the sequence P to Q B's 4th P to K's 4th is regarded by "some writers" as favouring black, whereas "in the Sicilian Game, when the position is reversed, and you have Black's position, and in addition the advantage of the move, you can barely make an even game".
A few points on this one.
Basically I think Jack is right: Staunton played 1 c4 against Saint-Amant. It was not totally unknown before that (Harry Wilson played it against Captain Evans in 1829, for example), but from about 1849 it had a brief vogue with some other English players who copied him, also Horwitz who was resident in England.
Staunton played it again, especially in 1851.
Though occasionally played thereafter, it fell out of fashion although Steinitz played it sometimes (as early as 1860).
Then London scored an important win with 1 c4 in the correspondence match with Vienna (1872/4) where Horwitz was involved in the early stages, as well as Steinitz of course.

The quotation from the 10th MCO is very odd because I am not aware there was any England v France team match in 1843; this was a misunderstanding by Walter Korn presumably.

I didn't contribute earlier because I was trying to see where/when the name English Opening may have come into use, and it seems likely it was the late 1870s. The term is not used by William Cook in the earliest two editions of his "Synopsis of the Chess Openings" but in his fourth edition (1888, page 136) where he has the early moves of London v Vienna there is the note:
The English opening, calculated to bring about positions in which each side soon thrown upon its own resources.
In the 1882 third edition, which I only have as a PDF, almost the same wording appears on page 133 except that it is more grammatical:
is soon
rather than just soon.

Cook did not invent the name. It may have been Steinitz. Searching the British Newspaper Archive with search term=chess and exact phrase=English opening, it turned up The Field of 23 August 1879 in his notes to the game Paulsen-Flechsig from Leipzig which began 1 c4 e5.
Steinitz not only uses "English Opening" in the game header but has a note saying that:
It is not prudent for the second player to oppose a closed opening with an open one, excepting in the Fianchetto. The proper answer to the English opening is either P to K3, or P to QB4.
Maybe Steinitz or somebody else had used the term a bit earlier; at least this narrows down the search period.
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'British Chess Literature to 1914', Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
http://www.chessmail.com

Craig Pritchett
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Re: The English Opening.

Post by Craig Pritchett » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:18 pm

I feel sure that Jack Rudd and Tim Harding's instincts (plus detailed points) are right and that the 'English' popularity, especially propelled by Staunton's early and quite skilful interpretations of the opening in the match v St Amant eventually led someone to naming 1.c4 'English Opening' but as Tim's researches indicate it's not easy to pin that someone or point in time down.

If someone has access to the (magisterial) volumes of the 'Bilguer' that ran from the early 1840s into the early 20th century, I think these might well be worth checking. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the designation 'English' originated via a German observation of developing 19th century openings theoretical trends.

Sadly I can't currently consult any of these (truly outstanding) works as I don't have any of the various editions and would need to access them either at the National Library of Scotland or Edinburgh Central Library (over the road from the NLS) … and due to Covid troubles they are shut for the foreseeable future. Frustrating, as I know that the Central Library (to my great surprise) has a first edition Bilguer and it would be especially interesting to start there first.

Staunton's 'wry' comments about other (unspecified) authorities may (quite probably do) refer to other European continental sources (as he was up to speed with all such major chess writing). It's worth recalling that Anderssen-Morphy games (1858)that went 1.a3 e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e3, a line that's still quite common (by transposition from 1.c4) today, are also early examples of truly 'English' lines (and it's more than likely that both players were aiming to reach this position even in the first of these games … Anderssen, as he believed in the potential of these 'semi-closed' structures for White / Morphy, as he liked the semi-open lines and central development for Black).

I wasn't aware of Steinitz's interesting (1879) comment that the best answer to 1.c4 is either … e6 or ...c5. It is, however, worth pointing out that he also commented favourably on Black's choice of 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4, which many incorrectly believe to be a late 20th century invention (Anand especially has made a considerable success of this line from Black's viewpoint), in his voluminous (and highly insightful) notes in umpteen columns, in The Field, to the 1873/4 London-Vienna correspondence match game as that famous and rather well-played game proceeded.

I'd love to look at Bilguer editions (including one). Can anyone help?

Tim Harding
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Re: The English Opening.

Post by Tim Harding » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:45 pm

Further to my post last night, a friend has pointed out that the term English Opening was already used in 1876, e.g., in the May number of the Westminster Papers in respect of a game Potter-MacDonnell. (I was working back from the 1882 edition of Cook's Synopsis which is the earliest mention I have found in a book so far.

So I looked further back, to the first volume of the City of London Chess Magazine (which ran Feb 1874-Jan 1875). The index, which would have been published with the final issue, or the first issue of the next volume, had three entries for English Opening.
The first two of these are to the London-Vienna game I mentioned yesterday, but the third was to page 227, where Zukertort annotated an amateur consultation game, Lambert and Neville v De Soyres and Bolt. In this case (but not the previous ones) the term English Opening was actually on the page at the head of the game. In the second volume of the City of London Chess Magazine (Feb 1875-Jan 1876) there are five games, all headed "English Opening". The editor of the magazine, Potter, was involved in three of these: once as Black.
In the Potter-Zukertort match of late 1875 both players tried 1 c4.

From this I think we can infer that the naming of the opening was at least as much to do with London's win against Vienna (1872/4) as the earlier adoption of 1 c4 by Staunton and co., but we cannot be sure. Opening books prior to this period (including Wormald's 1875 second edition) usually don't discuss 1 c4, let alone name it. So the term may have been current in London clubs without appearing in print until 1874.

Earlier examples are welcome if anyone can find them.

In response to what Craig just posted, I have the 5th (1874) edition of Bilguers Handbuch in PDF and the very limited coverage of 1 c4 is on pages 332-333 and there is no name given to the opening.

Nor should the English Opening be confused with the Englischer Springerspiel - a term sometimes used in German sources. This was a reference to what we call the Ponziani nowadays, 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 c3, another opening which Staunton sometimes played. The name Ponziani is a misnomer because his name should be attached only to the reply 3...f5.

Starting on page 253 in the 1874 Bilguer, the treatment of 3 c3 is headed "Lauferbauer der Dame im Springerspiel oder englische Partie."
So in Germany 1 c4 was certainly not being called the English Opening at the same time that name was emerging in Britain.
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'British Chess Literature to 1914', Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
http://www.chessmail.com

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