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When capturing on f6 (to be examined next...) is no longer a threat, the Tromp/Torre bishop, although less subject to harassment on g5 than on f4, usually exerts a lesser hold on the Black position than the London bishop, if only in terms of squares controlled in the second half of the board.
This update is dedicated to Black's attempt to counter that pressure by the typical chase of White's London bishop by Black's king's knight.

Download PGN of June '09 d-Pawn Specials games

London System [D00 & A46-47]

In Game One, Black had to make 2 attempts before he caught him, first on h5 then on f5 via g7, and even put his king on d7 so much did he want this exchange:

But this could have turned really ugly for him...

In Game Two, on the other hand, White was happy to just open the h-file after the bishop's capture on g3. He then tried to press there, but this proved the wrong direction. Actually, I have already examined a couple of game in this section s with the theme of this early exchange: In the Tromp after 2...e6 3.e4 h6 4.Bxf6 Qxf6 5.Nf3?! transposing into the Nimzo-Torre 3...h6 4.Bxf6 Qxf6 5.e4, and in the KID-Torre 2...d6 3.Bg5 Nbd7 with the idea ...h6, ...g5, ...Nh5 and so on. In general, Black is solid without any structural weakness. It is hard for White to find anything to get his teeth into, no strong outposts for his knights, the simple move ...h7-h6 annihilating the activity generated by the semi opening of the file, while the opponent gradually catches up with development before taking advantage of his two bishops.

When the square d5 is left available to Black as in the Nimzo-London, the bishop can also be defied from d5. It is often the prelude to Black's profiting of its retreat to mobilize his f-pawn with ...f7-f5. Then White, as in Game Three, should be cautious as to whether to put him all the way back to h2 or more actively on g3?!

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Qb6:

"A main line move played by dozens of grandmasters over the years" about the prospects of which John Cox in his "Dealing with d4 deviations" Everyman 2006, is, like me, "not totally wild". Indeed, I know this motive of hitting the b2 pawn like the back of my hand. I believe it generally places the black queen in an awkward decentralized position and should be executed only in the case where it cannot be adequately met by the natural development of the Nb1 or by Rb1 when he has already freed the square.

Could this represent an exception ?! was the subject of an 'ultra-light' survey (scarcely documented and furthermore centered on the e-pawn support of White's central anchor, rather than my advocated 4.c3) published by GM Viktor MOSKALENKO in CBM126 with the author denigrating White's 3rd move as "such an obscure manoeuvre"(Sic) on the way.

Actually, game Game Four and Game 5 confirmed this view after 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.a3 Nh5 7.Bg3?! (As a reflex for the habitué of these systems, and likewise with reversed colours, this bishop would prove more recalcitrant with 7.Be5!) 7...Nxg3 8.hxg3 d5:

and also after the critical 6.Nb5 Nd5 7.Nd6+? Bxd6 8.Bxd6 Nxd4, whereas 7.Bd6! Nxd4 8.Bxf8 Nxf3+ 9.Qxf3 provides White with clear compensation for the pawn.

5.Na3! however, "which no one ever plays" reveals John Cox and that I had missed at the time, considerably reduces Black's choice by threatening Nc4:

The transposition 5...cxd4 6.Nb5 is basically the only line and White emerged out of the opening slightly better after 6...Na6 in Game 6.

Instead, 4.c3 is the correct move anyway and after 4...Nc6 5.e3, Black had another chance to get at the bishop after 5...Nh5!? hoping for the impulsive reaction 6.Bg5?! now ideally met by 6...Qb6! Although White won in sizzling style in Game 7, after sacrificing the pawn by 7.Nbd2 Qxb2, this just collides with objective analysis.

This only leaves White with 6.Qb3 h6 7.Bh4 g5 (Now that the white queen has deserted the d1-h5 diagonal, Black can more quietly execute this compromising manoeuvre.) 8.Bg3 Nxg3 9.hxg3 Bg7 10.Nbd2 d5 Reaching exactly the same position in Game 8 that I had 2 months before...with reversed colors!

What does this mean?

That White would have been wiser to retreat immediately by 5.Bg3 Nxg3 6.hxg3 d5 7.Nbd2 with the idea Bd3, Qe2, 0-0-0.

From another reversed Slow Slav move order, different to my '2 months before game' (i.e. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5, as favoured by Kramnik, rather than the 4...Bg4 that I personally prefer) White enjoys a genuine extra tempo here. Is he in measure to do something with it when Black has not expanded/weakened himself on the kingside?!

I reckon this is the key question of this black alternative, in any case introduced by more 'logical' moves than the immediate release of the tension... 4...cxd4 5.cxd4, arguably the defect of the 4.c3 option of which 5...b5 aims to profit, 6.e3 a6 7.a4! which is then the only consequent continuation after White's previous move, was quite interesting in Game 9:

5...Qb6 is the second try and White in Game 10 probably wishes he had known my game against Fedorchuk, which is absent from the databases, as it was exclusively commented at the time for ChessPublishing!

See you soon, Eric