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Either due to inaccuracy or from a lack of experience on their authors' part, you can always find annoying tiny flaws in theoretical publications, generally in subsidiary-detail lines.
And with the London System the devil often hides in details...

Download PGN of December '11 d-Pawn Specials games

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London System with early h3 v KID [A48]

This has once more proved true when studying the line 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.e3 0-0 5.h3?! d6 6.Be2 c5! 7.c3 Qb6:

This (rather than the 7...Nc6 or 7...Be6 we examined last month) was a novelty at the time, and as Black is already equal it was thus blessed with an exclamation mark by a KID expert in a 20-year-old Informator.

Now 8.Qb3 leads to the ending after 8...Be6 9.Qxb6 axb6 10.a3 (On a personal note, I would rather pick any other d-Pawn Specials variation against the KID as White - like the Barry or the VKH Attack... - rather than play this ending!) Indeed, this position looks more than just "perfectly OK for Black..." following the natural 10...Nc6 11.Nbd2 Na5!:

A key move which addresses White's 2 assets in this position: his pseudo threat of Nd2-c4 and his general idea of expanding in the centre by e3-e4 (after the exchange of one knight on b3 which makes it more shaky.)

Then 12.0-0 Rfc8!? is an interesting refinement which brought Black success in Game 1, but was questioned by the simple 13.Rfe1 in Game 2.

12...Nb3 is normal and is the standard recipe for equalization as shown in Game 3. Actually, the fact that Black has a plan (advancing his doubled b-pawns by passing the b5 blockade) tends to favour him in the ending every time the opponent is not in a position to execute his own plan, which is to go e3-e4.

Regarding this matter, the probably even more natural alternative 11...Rfe8 was even rated dubious a few years afterwards in an Informator.

It is true that the idea to play ...e7-e5 is difficult to implement as Black. However, it can still be combined with the second plan using the development of the queen's knight to c6: ...h7-h6 to prevent any Ng5, ...Nd7 to freeze the opposing centre and then ...f7-f5 intending ...Be6-f7, and finally ...e7-e5. With the optional ...g6-g5 seizing valuable space on the kingside and ...d6-d5 to deprive the Nd2 of the c4-square, I struggle to see why White should be better in this ending.

But Black did not do this in Game 4...

However 10...Bd7! as in Game 5 is Volokitin's brainwave:

and this synthesizes everything Black has been striving to accomplish in the previous games:
-gain control over the b5-square to play ...b6-b5-b4
-prevent e3-e4
-liberate his own e-pawn to hit against the London bishop
with mitigated success in this particular game, though.

Instead of 7.c3 the development 7.Nbd2?! ("A simple approach; White makes 7...Qb6 unattractive in view of 8.Nc4") is in fact another dubious move for White. It can be refuted by 7...Nc6 7.c3 cxd4 8.exd4 e5! as we saw last time.

On the other hand, when Black is not aware of this and follows Yelena Dembo's recommendation (which is quite logical for the coherence of her book, even if 7.c3 has to be considered the main line) of 7...Be6?! 8.c3 Nc6 he exposes himself to 9.dxc5! dxc5. Chess literature appears contradictory about this option at this particular stage, but Game 6, with my support as long as my experience (and my games in this update...) with the London System can tell, indicates Black should strive to avoid this structure.

London System without early h3 v KID [A48]

Instead of playing an early h3, 5.Be2 d6 6.0-0! is the move order offering White the best chances. Indeed, after 6...c5 7.c3 Be6? the economy of avoiding h2-h3 does make a difference as White can continue 8.dxc5! dxc5 9.Nbd2! (This knight belongs here, possibly heading for c4 and supporting a further central expanding by e3-e4, for White's main asset in the position resides in the fact that the black queen has no safe place to settle in order to activate his rooks.) 9...Nc6 10.h3! and White has managed to practically transpose into the previous game while preventing an early ...Qb6!. Then 10...a6?! is a common mistake, weakening the crucial b6-square. As a result Black already found himself in trouble in Game 7 after 11.a4 Qb6 12.Ng5!:

10...Bf5 prevents White from going e3-e4, but 11.Rfe1! confronts Black with the concern of how to complete development one more time. 11...a6?! 12.a4 h6 was again not the answer in Game 8, for with 13.Nc4! White changed his mind regarding the exchange of queens in the hope of a further domination of the open d-file.

The idea of the 2 previous games was still maturing and the 9.Na3?! from Game 9 move was inspired by my experience with this pawn structure issued from the following games in a different move order. Although it has been praised by IM Cyrus Lakdawala in his book "Play the London system" (2010 Everyman, yes, the same publisher as Dembo's!) it is clearly inferior to 9.Nbd2! for reasons I understand better now. They actually draw on the same analytical mistake that has induced Black not to investigate the sequence c3 ...Be6?! dxc5! more deeply. The point is that White has every interest to keep his queen on the board for the moment as she has a future on the short d1-a4 diagonal, to help the e3-e4 advance for instance, which is not the case of her counterpart on the d8-a5 diagonal. Furthermore, the knight has nothing to do on b5. He is mainly heading for c4 (or e4 from d2!) and for this requires the support of a pawn on a4. So when it is in front, on a3...

Armed with this knowledge, White can better evaluate the similar structure change issued from the alternative 5...c5 6.c3 d6 7.dxc5?! dxc5, releasing the central tension without even having to worry any time about any opposing ...Qb6. 8.Nbd2 then, with the idea 8...Nc6 9.h3 to preserve the London bishop against ...Nh5, is probably better than 8.Na3?!:

The truth however is that to have a chance to grind out an edge from the opening, White should wait for Black's queen bishop to err to e6...

So the last games (Game 10, Game 11, Game 12, Game 13) of this update are taken 'as they are' out of my personal database. Scarcely commented, they have to be considered to be bonus games in order to share my experience (on this theoretically little relevant sub-line of my invention) of this structure which appears more delicate to master for Black than it looks.

See you soon, Eric

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