The English Opening is an important part of chess theory and compared to the more frequently played moves 1.e2-e4 or 1.d2-d4 it is just as good. 1.c2-c4 is very flexible and can lead to other openings by transposition of moves. The positions are in the majority of a closed character and contact with the opponent does not happen as quickly as in, say, the open games with 1.e2-e4.
Sicilian Attack: 1.c4 e5
If Black chooses 1. …e7-e5 then what arises is the Sicilian Defence with reversed colours, i.e. the Sicilian Attack. Both sides have a great number of options. White almost always develops the queen’s knight to c3 and fianchettoes the light-squared bishop to g2. The king’s knight often goes to f3 but also to e2. One frequent variation is the English Four Knights Game which arises after the following moves. 2. Nb1-c3 Ng8-f6 3. Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6 White usually continues with 4. g2-g3 and the fianchetto of his light-squared bishop, to which Black can reply 4...d7-d5 or 4...Bf8-b4.
English Symmetrical Variation: 1.c4 c5
This move is chosen by Black just as often as 1.e7-e5. In principle it can be followed by any conceivable sensible setup for both sides.
English Symmetrical Variation - Open Variation: 1. c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4
In this variation White intends to open the position in the centre quickly. As a rule Black exchanges pawns and develops the second knight to c6.
English Symmetrical Variation - Main Variation: 1.c4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 36
This move order can be considered the man variation. White develops both knights and Black frees the way for his dark-squared bishop. On move 4 White usually chooses 3.g2-g3 intending to fianchetto his light-squared bishop. For his part Black reacts to this setup with the fianchetto of his light-squared bishop to b7 after 4... b7-b6. Another idea for White is 4.d2-d4 with the intention of opening the centre.