Dealing with 1.c4 can be frustrating. Perhaps because it’s not a very common opening, players tend to procrastinate studying it. But when it does come on the board, White seems to develop very comfortably and harmoniously, and the unprepared Black player has to navigate something of a minefield.
But 1.c4 becomes a much more frequent and much more serious threat as your rating increases. You can try and transpose into something quiet like a Semi-Slav or a Queen’s Gambit Declined, but if you’re looking for a win as Black, you’ll typically need something much more aggressive – like the Reversed Sicilian.
A Truly Aggressive Black Repertoire Against 1.c4
In the latest installment of Chessable’s Lifetime Repertoires series, 4-time Latvian Chess Champion Arturs Neiksans provides a complete attacking repertoire for Black against the English Opening.
Most opening instructors will say their opening system is “aggressive” but Arturs Neiksans’ Reversed Sicilian repertoire is absolutely true to its word. It seems like every line is dedicated not only to achieving equality, but also tormenting White mercilessly.
Take this line from the course for example:
1.c4 e5 2.g3 c6 3.Bg2 d5 4.cxd5 cxd5
Immediately Black goes for central domination with two pawns occupying the “sweet center.” The plan will continue with rapid development of the pieces and further domination of the center, even at the cost of material.
5.Qb3 Nf6 6.Nc3
Here, White is not too happy with Black’s pretty center and seeks to take out the d-pawn. But true to the style of the repertoire, Black just lets him, and continues developing. If White wants to play games, let him: he’ll have a price to pay.
6…Nc6 7.Nxd5 Nxd5 8.Qxd5 Bd6!?
White’s queen looks intimidating, but Black can remain fearless. GM Neiksans’ innovative Bd6 move prepares double payback for White’s bold steal. The old advice “Don’t take your queen out too early” certainly rings true in this scenario, as you’ll see shortly:
9.Nf3 Nb4 10.Qe4 f5 11.Qb1 Qc7 12.O-O Nc2
White’s position is just sad. As if a queen on b1 weren’t bad enough, Black will be up the exchange after Nxa1. Comfortable and speedy development will follow and Black will simply be better.
This repertoire is full of these types of positions. Notice how Black is not worried about giving up material and plays calm, positional chess that focuses on rapid development and central control. If White gets feisty, Black is ready to strike back hard. But if left to his own devices, Black will build up a powerful center and launch his own crushing attack at the right moment.
A World-Class Instructor Has Your Back
This beautiful attacking repertoire is the brain child of Grandmaster Arturs Neiksans, 4-time Latvian Chess Champion and head coach of the renowned Riga Chess School. GM Neiksans is also known for his incredible blitz talent, which you can see in his live streams.
But not only does he have bona fide playing credentials, he also really shines as a teacher. As a FIDE-accredited chess coach, he’s an expert at breaking down the lines and explaining the rationale behind the moves so that players of various levels can digest the new lines easily and build an intuition which guides them in their own games.
That’s particularly useful in this course, as you’ll have more than 900 trainable variations to learn. With the detailed explanation of plans in each variation, you certainly won’t need to know every variation to employ the Reversed Sicilian effectively. But with all these lines, you’ll have the most thorough and complete guide to an aggressive response to 1.c4 of anywhere you’ll find.
And the best part is, you can sample the course with the free Short & Sweet version. If you want to optimize your approach to handling 1.c4 with an aggressive repertoire that can last you a lifetime, you’ll definitely want to check it out.