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After 3 months of different horizons masterfully directed by Richard, it's now time to place the last piece in the 'Dembo puzzle'!

Download PGN of April '12 d-Pawn Specials games

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The London System v KID [A48]

With the following line the most precise move order for both sides: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.Nf3 0-0 5.Be2 d6 6.0-0 c5 7.c3 Qb6 8.Nbd2! Be6 9.Ng5 Bd7 10.Nc4 Qc7

In game 1 White was punished for the poor 11.a4? After 11...h6 12.Nf3 Nh5! which was well spotted by the author with the additional comment: "By exchanging the dark-squared bishop Black secures a slight advantage, which will become more pronounced once he succeeds in opening up the centre."

However 11.h3! is the move, but only at this stage... reaching a crucial transposition which was one more time omitted by Dembo (her main line starting with 5.h3?! against which we saw that Black, still beginning with ...c5, had much stronger forgotten options than ...Qb6 & ...Be6) so (under)estimated as a detail line.

With such important holes in her composition couldn't she have asked a London specialist what he thought of it!? This is just common sense, especially when publishing a repertoire book for Black.

I have not dwelt on the Torre or Colle approaches, but after John Cox gave a practically losing (Nimzo-Indian based) central variation as good for Black (see Prie-Svetushkin), I am ready and waiting for the next 1...d5 or 1...f5 d-Pawn Specials breakers' suggestions against the (Neo)London!

11...h6 Trying to do without this move can only lead to problems for Black. 12.Nf3 Bf5 not only made pleasant geometry on the f-file in game 2 but also redeployed the bishop to control the e4 square while freeing the d7 square for the queen's knight.

Using the same idea, Black opted for 12...b6 in game 3, necessarily protecting the c5-pawn with the idea ...Bc6, ...Qb7 to which White retorted with 13.Bd3?!:

I do not like this move which obstructs the d-file without even the assurance of succeeding in playing e3-e4 later. Unfortunately, the whole thesis of Dembo relies on this dubious move out of this isolated game.

Note that in both cases, against 12...Bf5 or 12...b6, White should play in Reversed Reti ( the only system left to cover on the theoretical debate London vs KID... one of these days) style beginning with 13.Re1, intending a further expansion in the centre through e3-e4, or alternatively gain the theoretically slight material advantage of two pawns and a rook against bishop and knight beginning with 13.dxc5!?, followed by Nxd6, which is obviously more interesting for White with a target on b5...

This seemingly critical idea of ...b5 (that induced White to prevent it in game 1) was shown in game 4, with the dubious introduction, 12...Nh5?! 13.Bh2 then 13...b5, though, but White could not be bothered to take on d6 and got a good game replacing his knight instead, with the black queenside pawns as targets, after 14.Ncd2:

When White, thinking he is being rock solid, plays the early combination of c2-c3 + h2-h3 (for instance with the order of moves 4.c3 0-0 5.h3 d6 6.Nf3) he may have thought he would succeed in preventing both concerns of ...Nf6-h5 and 6...c5 by 7.dxc5 dxc5 8.Nbd2. This is probably a touch better than the 8.Na3 my experience of which I've already shared with subscribers, but is still unconvincing when Black has not played 8...Be6 because Black can now confront the London bishop directly with 8...Nc6 9.Be2 Re8! as in game 5:

Actually there is a combination of those 2 black ideas ...Nf6-h5+...c7-c5 that could serve as a suggestion for a second revised edition of Dembo's book! Not long after I'd detected it for ChessPublishing, game 6 saw this critical line following the "expert move order". 7...Nh5!? (instead of 7...Qb6 or the even worse 7...Be6?! 8.dxc5! Dxc5 9.Nbd2 I signalled last time) 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Nfd2 cxd4! 11.cxd4 Nf4! 12.exf4 gxh4:

and a further black equalization after he managed to avoid the traps of the opening linked to the weakening of his kingside castle.

This same idea without both sides castling did not have the same effect in game 7, for White could afford to give up his bishop on g3, pinning his hopes on interesting tactical play with the help of the semi-open h-file. Black's shift to the main idea ...Qb6+...Be6 then was interesting, with the evaluation of the b2-pawn sacrifice at stake.

See you soon, Eric

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