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I have always been conscious of the fact that the lateral attack 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 c5! represented the acid test of White's 2.Bf4 move order. For some reason, however, while following a mixture of 'so far, so good' and an 'ostrich policy' I had always managed to weather the storm... until recently!
With an inconvenient change in my schedule, hence this emergency update, and an additional chapter in the London eBook!

Download PGN of August '11 d-Pawn Specials games

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London System 2.Bf4 c5 [A45]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 c5!:

Now 3.d5 is the book move. Unfortunately for White, there are far less heartening options than 3...Qb6?! which transposes into the most exciting line of the Tromp (in my opinion) 4.Nc3 Qxb2 5.Bd2 Qb6 6.e4 d6 7.f4, when, instead of 7...e6 or the recommended 7...e5, 7...a6 is a move I did not treat at the time, and Game 1 shows why.

Instead 3...b5!? announces the plain intention of winning White's advanced pawn after ...Bb7:

4.a4 Bb7 5.axb5?! (If White has to exchange a central pawn against Black's b-pawn anyway, he may as well keep the one that restricts the opposing game most following 5.e4!? Nxe4 6.axb5) 5...Nxd5 6.Bg3 g6 7.e4 Nb6 8.Nd2?! (White had better forget about the c4 square and by 8.Nc3 concentrate on swift and natural development.) 8...Bg7 9.c3 0-0 10.Ngf3 d6 11.Be2 a6!:

With this move Black annihilates the opposing advantage of the semi open a-file at the opportune moment. Consequently Black stood better in Game 2 with typical pressure against the small b2-c3 chain thanks to his strong Bg7 and semi-open b-file, which was hardly compensated by the possession of the c4 square for a white knight without any central or kingside prospects.

Game 3 saw approximately the same script although the development of the opposing dark squared bishop on e7 ameliorated White's chances.

4...Qa5+?! is designed to interrupt the d5-pawn's protection or play ...b5-b4 (the critical continuation on move 4 in any case, but still awaiting the test of practice...) under more favorable conditions, but inaugurates a very risky manoeuvre improvised over the board. Following 5.Nd2! Qb4!? (Possibly not the best but assuredly the trickiest move order, as after 5...Nxd5 6.axb5 Qb4 7.Be5 d6 the move 8.e4! cutting the escape route on the 4th by the idea 8...dxe5 9.Qc1!! would also have embarrassed the black queen...) 6.Be5! Nxd5 7.e4:

forced Black to a number of sleights of hand just to pass a dozen moves in game 4.

Nevertheless the relatively confidential 3...d6! is the move that causes me the biggest headache:

as for the 3rd time (after ...Qb4+ in the notes to game 1, ...Nh5 likewise in game 2...) Black will manage to exploit the premature development of the London bishop. After 4.Nc3 e5 the move 5.Bg5!? then appears the most promising, rather than game 5's 6.dxe6 Bxe6 7.e4 Nc6.

Amongst the options of lesser importance such as 3.dxc5 Na6 4.Qd4 which fell short in game 6 after 4...Qa5 due to the impossibility to continue 5.Nc3?! because of 5...Nxc5:

with the idea 6.b4? Ne6, or the tragicomic 3.Nf3? cxd4 4.Nxd4? e5! already winning a piece in game 7:

there is the d4-pawn support 3.c3?!, which is also just bad with the bishop on f4, but is an interesting introduction to the critical 3.e3 to be examined next time. Thus, as the opponent has deprived himself of the possibility Nc3, Black is going to play ...Qb6. But to take or not to take on d4?

He did in game 8, playing 3...cxd4 4.cxd4 Qb6. However 5.Nc3! Qxb2 6.Bd2 or 6.Rc1 may offer White some compensation.

The immediate 3...Qb6! obviously cuts off this resource. Then 4.Qc2?! is another inaccuracy that put White on the edge of the abyss in game 9 after 4...cxd4 5.cxd4 Nc6 6.e3 d6! intending ...e7-e5, ...Bf5:

Therefore 4.Qb3 resembles the only move. After 4...cxd4! 5.Bxb8 Avoids losing a pawn, but fails to avoid giving the advantage to the opponent. Actually 5.Qxb6 axb6 6.Bxb8? dxc3!! 7.Be5 Rxa2! reminds us of the Tromp:

and only works thanks to the preliminary opening of the a-file in Black's favour.

Now 5...Qxb3! (improving on the difficulty comprehensible 5...Rxb8? 6.Qxb6 axb6 7.cxd4 in game 10.) 6. axb3 Rxb8 7.cxd4 is then probably White's lesser evil:

compared to 7.Rxa7 dxc3 8.bxc3 e5! Is it because this looks a bit depressing for White that I found no game matching this position in my database?!

See you soon, Eric

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