ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Lots of the world’s media have their eyes on London, as I write, with PM Boris Johnson currently in hospital, but we have plenty to distract you from a certain scary ‘c’ word this month. Highlights of this London fest are Romain Edouard’s model (and brutal) play against a Closed Benoni set-up after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 c5, and a remarkable pawn break which was missed then found by Matthias Bluebaum!

Download PGN of April ’20 d-Pawn Specials games

>> Previous Update >>

The Neo-London System: 2...c5 3 d5 [A45]

Utterly brutal and extremely impressive is how we might best describe White’s play in Edouard, R - Santos Latasa, J. The first key moment arises after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 c5 3 d5 d6 (we’ll also see that openings-wise Ivan Cheparinov upheld the cause of 3...b5 against Carlsen no less) 4 Nc3 Qb6:

Choices, choices for White and there are a fair few tempting moves against Black’s ambitious play, but I really like Edouard’s modest 5 Qc1!, keeping open a handy retreat square for his bishop, as quickly became apparent after 5...e5 6 Bg5 Be7 7 e4 h6 8 Bd2.

The London: 2...g6 3 Nc3 d5 [A45]

Yet another powerful and instructive display from Magnus Carlsen was one of his recent Banter Blitz wins. I try to avoid blitz games in this column, but even at three minutes a game the world champion almost always plays a great many good moves. We’ve seen him before on the black side of 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bf4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 e3 Bg7 5 h4 h5 against Naiditsch, but this time he was White.

Right away, Carlsen elected to activate with 6 Nf3 c6 7 Ne5, with 7...Nbd7 8 Bd3 already looking quite pleasant for White in Carlsen, M - Mamedov, R.

It would be wrong to assume that 4 e3 is forced, even if it has become by far White’s most popular choice. Those who like to go their own way, surprise Black, and inject some early aggression might still wish to consider 4 Qd2 when a critical position arises after 4...Bg7 5 f3 0-0:

Cutting open the centre is what White would like to do, but unfortunately I can’t really recommend 6 e4? c5!, as in Hesham, A - Deepan Chakkravarthy, J. Instead, white players should look at the more restrained 6 0-0-0 c5 7 e3 followed by going g2-g4.

The London: 2...e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 e3 b6 5 c3 [A46]

However many GM games in the London I look at, I’m always surprised how regularly an early ...d5 and/or ...g6 occur. There is nothing wrong with meeting 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 with a Queen’s Indian-style set-up. This month we’ll look at developments after both the immediate 3...b6 and 3...c5 4 c3 b6 5 e3 Be7 6 h3 0-0 7 Nbd2 d6:

Many thematic moves from both sides are seen in this sequence which is, indeed, pretty natural, apart from mainly Black’s delay in completing the fianchetto. Now White really decided to grab the bull by the horns and went 8 e4!? in Van den Doel, E - Maiorov, N.

The Neo-London, Apeldoorn Variation: 2...c5 3 e3 Nc6 4 c3 cxd4 5 exd4 f6!? [D00]

On 1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 Black most certainly doesn’t have to rush with ...Nf6, one notable exception to that development being the so-called Apeldoorn variation, 2...c5 3 e3 Nc6 4 c3 cxd4 5 exd4 f6!?:

Now, as we’ve seen before, it remains vital for White to avoid 6 Bd3? e5!. In Berkes, F - Kristensen, K, the prophylactic 6 Bg3!? was tried by the Hungarian expert on the London, but even here Black seems to be OK as the ball remains firmly in White’s court after 5...f6.

The London, Anti-Nimzo: 2...Nf6 3 Nf3 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 [D02]

‘Don’t rush!’ was my first thought on seeing 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 Nbd2 e6 (developments after 5...cxd4 6 exd4 Bf5 7 Bb5 are also discussed, and involving that man of the moment no less, Ian Nepomniachtchi) 6 c3 Nh5!?:

I struggled then and still do now to see what Black has gained by not going first 6...cxd4 7 exd4 and only then 7...Nh5, as pioneered by Wesley So, of course. 7 Bg5 f6 8 Bh4 g6 9 Bd3 cxd4 10 cxd4! demonstrates one major downside to Black’s move order and gave White a pleasant edge in Bluebaum, M - Van Foreest, L.

The London Anti-Nimzo: 2...Nf6 3 Nf3 c5 4 e3 Nc6 5 c3 e6 6 Nbd2 Bd6 7 Bg3 0-0 [D02]

So we come to arguably the main line of the London these days, 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bf4 d5 4 e3 c5 5 c3 Nc6 6 Nbd2 Bd6 7 Bg3 0-0:

Little choice here for White, if still a very important one: to place his bishop on d3 or b5. The Indian GM Chanda Sandipan continues to deploy the former, but its popularity has been waning of late, with 8 Bd3 once again White’s main choice, although after 8...b6 9 Qe2 Bb7 10 Rd1 Ne7 White does need to find an improvement over Sedlak, N - Richter, N.

Until next month, when I suspect we’ll be seeing a bit less of the London, Richard

>> Previous Update >>