ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
I am aware that there exists a definite impulse to search for symmetry against the modest surprise of the Neo-London, especially amongst theoretically less sharp and weaker players.
I found it interesting to study this from the angle of playing exactly as against the old London system: 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4?! c5! 4.e3 Nc6 5.c3 Qb6 etc., but with colors reversed, as White, therefore enjoying an extra tempo!

Download PGN of January '09 d-Pawn Specials games

London [D00]

Indeed, the only way for the first player to unbalance the position and try to get something out of the opening when Black plays with the bishop on f5 and the pawn on c6 is to involve his c-pawn in the central battle with c2-c4.

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 (Why not!? Transposing into the much commoner move order 2...Nf6 3.e3 c6 when 3...c5 is naturally the critical continuation and is to be updated next month.) 4.c4 a6 5.Nf3! (The queen's knight should not find itself in the way of Black's b-pawn.) 5...Bf5 6.Qb3 (This is the square for the b1-knight via d2 but, somehow, White has to force ...b7-b5 first!) 6...b5 7.cxd5 cxd5 8.a4 b4 9.Nbd2 e6 10.Bd3? whereas the retrospectively obvious 10.a5!, with the idea Qa4+, would have caused Black a lot more trouble in Game One.

4...Bf5 is more natural, and instead of the possibly precipitate 5.Qb3!? Qb6 6.c5 Qxb3 7.axb3 which permits the deflection 7...Bxb1! as in Game 3, White should seriously consider developing this knight first by 5.Nc3 Nbd7! 6.Nf3 e6 7.Qb3! Qb6 8.c5 Qxb3 9.axb3 a6! (if instead 9...Nh5 10.Be5 f6? 11.Bc7 Rc8 then 12.Bd6! wins because of the dual threat of h2-h3, g2-g4 trapping a piece and Rxa7, this is an essential resource for White in this survey) 10. b4 Rc8 and instead of the poor 11.Nd2? allowing 11...Nh5 in Game Two, White should have continued 11.h3! Be7 12.Nd2 Bd8 13.Nb3 0-0 (13...Bc7? 14.Bxc7 Rxc7 15.b5 cxb5 16.Nxb5+-) 14.Na5 Bxa5 15.bxa5 Re8 16.Bd6! e5 17.Kd2:

intending Ra1-a4-b4 with a big advantage for White.

3...Bf5 immediately is the recommended move order when Black wants to put his bishop on f5, with the interesting feature 4.c4 e6 (4...Bxb1? 5.Qxb1 e5 6.Bxe5 Qa5+ 7.Kd1 Nbd7 8.Bg3 proved clearly insufficient for Black in Game Four) 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.Qb3 Qb6 7.c5 Qxb3 8.axb3 e5!? Which did not allow Black to completely equalize yet in Game 5 after 9.Bg3 exd4 10.exd4 a6 11.b4 Rc8 12.Nf3:

Hence 7.Nf3!?, adding control to the e5 square to avoid the central reaction of the previous game. But you just cannot get everything: 7...dxc4! 8.Bxc4 Ngf6 9.0-0, and instead of changing the queens by 9...Qxb3 10.Bxb3 Be7 11.h3 which led to a typical Slav ending in Game 6, where Black was solid but deprived of any counterplay in front of the opposing central wall (after White succeeded in pushing e3-e4, which both hampered Black's bishops and provided the first player with more room, freedom and flexibility for manoeuvering - everything that the possession of the centre is about, actually), he may have tried 9...Be7!? 10.Rfe1 0-0.

Instead of giving White the tempo with Bxc4, 7...Nf6?! actually proved inferior in Game 7 after 8.c5 Qxb3 9.axb3 Be7? had White continued with the direct 10.b4! intending the already mentioned idea 10...Nh5? 11.Be5!. Instead, 10.h3? 0-0 11.b4 a6 gave Black enough time to react in the centre by having spared the tempo ...Ra8-c8.

On the other hand 4...dxc4!? 5.Bxc4 e6 is quite interesting - Black cannot be bothered. He wants to play a solid Slav structure without having provoked the advance a2-a4 and the consequent hole on b4. In return he gets interesting prospects against the Bf4 before White manages to advance with e3-e4. In comparison to Game 6, the presence of the queens guarantees him a lot more activity:

In Game 8 however, White managed to get good play after 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Nf3 Be7 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.h3 0-0?! 10.Nh4!, depriving Black of an important asset when 9...Nd5!? 10.Bh2 Nf6 must be critical.

The reason why 2...c6 is preferable to 2...Bf5 resides in the possibility of White playing 3.c4! immediately. Attempting to stabilize the centre with 3...c6?! is then impossible because of 4.Nc3 e6 5.Qb3 Qb6 6.c5 Qxb3 7.axb3 Nbd7 8.b4 and so on, as White should have followed up with in Game 9.

3...e6 is already better, with the trap 4.Qb3? Nc6! Instead of the disgraceful 4...b6? as witnessed in Game 10. Nonetheless, after 4.Nc3 Bd6 5.Bxd6 Qxd6 6.Nf3 Nf6 7.e3 0-0 8.cxd5 (White seems to have little to gain by maintaining the tension) 8...exd5 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 I prefer White because of the superior structure, enabling a minority attack, while it is not easy for Black to get a magic knight to d6:

3...dxc4 is the most challenging, 4.Nc3 Nf6 (controlling e4) 5.e3! (White was overambitious in Game 11 with 5.f3?! for this is the place for his king's knight.) 5...c6 (Black cannot keep the pawn) 6.Bxc4 e6 actually transposed into game 8 that White probably improved in Game 12!

See you soon, Eric