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This month I am continuing my analysis of the ...Nfd7, ...Nc6, and ...e5 King's Indian setup against the London System, but this time we will look at Black's agressive play on the kingside involving ...f5.

Download PGN of March '11 d-Pawn Specials games

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London System v KID [A48]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.Nf3 0-0 5.Be2 d6 6.0-0 Nfd7!? 7.h3 e5 8.Bh2 Nc6 9.c4 f5:

after last month's 9...exd4 10.exd4, this 9...f5 is possibly not the best line for Black with the King's Indian against the London system, but it is surely the one I feel the most uncomfortable against!

10.Nc3 e4 11.Nfd2 Nf6 is the first test. Then the question is: where to place the queen's rook?

12.Rc1! As it turns out with the rook placed on c1 defending the Nc3, Black has to watch out for the idea d4-d5, followed by c4-c5, immediately in some cases but more normally after the support Nd2-b3 with this knight heading for the squares d4 and e6. This (as in game 2) can prove even more shaky for Black than the queenside expansion featured in Game 1 after 12...Ne7 13.b4 c6?! as Black should not provide the opponent with this lever.

Instead, the critical move was 13...g5 as in Game 2.

Anyway, this is an explanation for why Black does not fight harder for the control of the b4 square, and why 12.Rb1, although once blessed with an exclamation mark by the encyclopaedic Ivanchuk, just misses the point. This can be compared with the relative ease White has to follow up with b2-b4 once this rook has left the long diagonal, either directly, as in the previous games, or after a preliminary d5-d4 as a sort of a threat. Even the idea a2-a3 is possible afterwards when Black's ...a7-a5 has the big drawback of giving up the b5 square with White ready for c4-c5.

Thus 12...h5!? 13.b4 Kh7 14.a4 Ne7 15.c5 d5 16.a5 a6! 17.b5 axb5 18.Nxb5 Ne8 19.Nb3 Bh6 20.Qd2 h4:

found both sides having built a firm grip on their respective wing of influence in Game 3. And if White was the first to open the queenside he appeared stationary now. Black, on the other hand, enjoyed a slow but clearer plan of action on the kingside. As difficult as it may be to implement with full success (just like White on the queenside...) it looked unpleasant to prevent in the long term.

The idea 12...Kh8 13.b4 g5 14.Qc2 g4!? 15.hxg4 Nxg4 16.Bxg4 fxg4 17.Ndxe4 Bf5, taking advantage of the alignment on the b1-h7 diagonal:

also found White struggling in Game 4.

On the other hand, 10.dxe5? dxe5 11.Nc3 proved too early in Game 5 as White needed the ...g6-g5 weakness to justify this exchange...

10.Nc3 g5!? And here it comes, introducing the direct threat of ...g5-g4, dislodging the knight from f3 and winning the d4 pawn:

If, as in the 1st part of this update, White should not worry excessively about the threatened opposing expansion on the kingside for the moment, the possibility of ...f5-f4, which puts his Bh2 seriously out of play this time, makes the whole variation difficult to assess.

Thus if Black did not need to close the centre (by 10...e4 11.Nfd2) White should react to this much desired move (as long as he goes for 9...f5 and not 9...exd4) with 11.dxe5 Ndxe5 12.c5!, which proved quite strong in Game 6:

In any case a lot stronger than the terrible 12.Nd4?? in Game 7, not only giving up the acquired advantage but also giving the opponent something he could only have dreamt of: A superb queen's knight, better pieces and a dangerous kingside attack after 12...Nxd4 13.exd4 Nc6 14.d5 Nd4 15.f4 g4!

The problem with 11...Nxe5 is that it definitely solves the concern of White's f3-knight for him, which is a target for both Black's e and g-pawn. Consequently, 11...dxe5 is far more critical:

12.Nd5!? starts a forced line with the idea Nxg5, Nxc7-e6, winning a rook and 2 pawns for the pair of knights. However the split majorities and a somewhat masked bishop on h2 did complicate matters in Game 8.

12.Qd5+ Kh8 13.Rad1! is right, as it turns out that the king's rook is more useful on the e or f-line. Although it requires a lot more work than usual, which is not the London player's cup of tea especially... the extensively analysed Game 9 illustrate the difficulties black suffers trying to untangle his pieces.

See you soon, Eric

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