English Opening Great Snake Variation

How to Play the English Opening, Great Snake Variation

The English Opening, known for its flexibility and strategic richness, starts with the move of the pawn to c4. The Great Snake Variation is a less common line characterized by moves that seek asymmetrical play and less-explored positions.

  • 1. c4: This first move by White controls the center from the flank, preparing the way for the development of minor pieces, particularly the king’s bishop and queen.
  • 1… g6: Black responds by preparing for long castling and the development of the bishop on the long diagonal, pointing towards the center. This move also provides flexibility for pawn structures in the center and king’s flank.

Variations of the English Opening, Great Snake Variation

Variations in the English Opening, Great Snake Variation, mainly arise from Black’s responses after 1.c4. These variations can lead to dynamic games with different pawn structures and strategic plans.

1… e5

This variation aims to control the center directly, challenging White’s influence. It leads to a symmetrical structure if White chooses to advance d4.

1… c5

This response is an attempt at symmetry that can transpose into Sicilian lines. Black aims to counter White’s control in the center and prepare their own play on the queen’s flank.

1… Nf6

Developing the knight towards the center, this move prepares castling and offers possibilities for transpositions into other openings like the Queen’s Gambit or even the Nimzo-Indian Defense.

English Opening: Great Snake Variation

Initial Moves:

1. c4 g6

The English Opening, characterized by the move 1. c4, is a flexible and solid choice for White, aiming to control the center of the board from the flank. Black’s response, 1… g6, leads to the Great Snake Variation, a less common but interesting choice that prepares the fianchetto of the bishop on g7.

Strategies and Tactics:

For White:

  • Center Control: Although 1. c4 does not directly occupy the center, it prepares expansion with d4. Moves like Nc3 and d4 reinforce this plan.
  • Flexibility: White keeps options open for structuring pawns and pieces, adapting to Black’s moves.
  • Pressure on the Queen’s Flank: With c4, White can exert pressure on the queen’s flank and look for opportunities to advance pawns in this sector.

For Black:

  • Bishop’s Fianchetto: The move g6 prepares the development of the bishop on g7, where it controls the long diagonal and supports center control.
  • Flexibility in Pawn Structure: Black has several options for their central pawn structure, such as d6 or c5, depending on how they decide to counter White’s strategy.
  • Counterplay in the Center: Black will seek to counter in the center, possibly with moves like d5 or e5, depending on White’s development.

Next Best Moves:

For White:

  • Nc3: Develops a piece towards the center, supporting the advance of d4 and keeping options open.
  • g3: Prepares the fianchetto of the king’s bishop, mirroring Black’s strategy and strengthening long-term center control.
  • d4: Occupies the center directly, challenging Black to respond and engaging in a direct battle for central control.

For Black:

Black will respond based on White’s choice, aiming to maintain balance and counter threats. Moves like Bg7, c5, or Nf6 are common to continue developing pieces and pawns.


The English Opening: Great Snake Variation is a strategic battle where both sides seek control of the center from a more flexible and positional perspective. White benefits from a solid pawn structure and versatile options, while Black aims to counter with harmonious development and counterplay opportunities. The choice of subsequent moves will define the nature of the central struggle and can lead to a variety of pawn structures and plans.