ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Pseudo-symmetry (with ...c7-c6, ...Bc8-f5) is the most popular way of reacting against the Neo-London among 1...d5 players (possibly by analogy with the 'normal London system' where it is designed to prevent c2-c4), as general practice as well as my personal experience can testify.
However, its reputation of being easy to handle varies in inverse proportion to the amount of knowledge and subtlety it requires to be played properly by either side... as this very update testifies!

Download PGN of May '12 d-Pawn Specials games

>> Previous Update >>

The London System symmetrical 1...d5, ...Bf5 [D02]

Among the multiple orders of moves the most often met starts 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 c6 3.e3 Bf5 4.c4 e6 5.Nc3 Nd7 6.Nf3, gaining important additional control over the e5 square. Accordingly, only after the so natural 6...Nf6 (which incidentally might not be the most precise in the position as we will check next time) White goes 7.Qb3 Qb6 8.c5 Qxb3 9.axb3:

As Black's simple plan proceeds to block the queenside and then prepare the freeing advance ...e6-e5, White has to deal with it without waiting, 9...a6 10.b4 Rc8 (now threatening to exchange the strong London bishop with ...Nh5 which justifies) 11.h3 Be7 12.Nd2! Heading for a5, 12...Bd8 13.Nb3 With an essential sort of a trap... apparently ignored by several strong victims, as in game 1, when following 13...Bc7? 14.Bxc7 Rxc7 15.b5!:

Black can practically resign.

Instead 13...0-0 14.Bd6 Re8 15.Na5 Bxa5 16.bxa5 e5 17.Kd2 reaches a key position which I've already mentioned as a big advantage for White in view of the idea Ra4, b4, but only in a note. It needed to be materialized in game 2, especially as Black came up with the challenging Novelty 17...Re6! here:

Intending ...Ne8, after which the black nut turned out to be harder to crack than I imagined.

Possibly for this reason some strong players have thought about leaving the London bishop apparently less active outside the enemy camp. 14.Na5!? Bxa5 15.bxa5, letting Black play ...e6-e5, and also in the same spirit allowing 15...Re8 16.Kd2 e5 17.Bg3 with another great trap that Black fell for in game 3.

A clever idea for Black is to evacuate his king to d8, closer to the sensitive b7-pawn while freeing the e8-square for either his king's rook to prepare ...e6-e5, or for the manoeuvre ...Ne8-c7-b5.

Unfortunately for him, he needs a useful waiting move instead of castling, for this failed by basically one tempo in game 4 after 13...Bc2!? 14.Na5 Bxa5 15.bxa5 Kd8 16.Kd2 Bg6 17.Ra4:

and Rb4 next go.

Could 13...h6 do the job? We will check it next time.

Considering the state of theory in this variation, getting rid of the London bishop at all costs is the strategy that offers Black the best chances at the moment. This can be assayed by 9...Nh5!?, in a way justifying the development of the king's knight to f6.

Instead of what he played in game 5, White should then, as always, sell his bishop's life dearly by 10.Be5! f6 11.Bc7 when 11...g5 12.h3 Ng7 13.b4 Rc8 14.Bh2 a6 15.Be2 h5:

With some counterplay for Black, although I would still rather be White here.

For this reason playing ...Qb6 first, after White has gone c2-c4, is a challenging idea for, as a rule, the vis-à-vis situation Qb6/Qb3 is favourable to White only when he can immediately follow up with c4-c5.

Depriving White of this possibility by taking on c4 actually sets a different balance of power even at the cost of allowing White to develop his king's bishop with tempo. As a result White can never take on b6 because of the opening of the a-file, improving the opposing structure, while Black can change queens accordingly because taking back with the a-pawn would leave a big hole on b4 that White will find hard to bypass this time.

This means White should always be able to retort to this idea by defending his b2-pawn with Qd2, and exceptionally Qc1, he only considered in game 6, whereas game 7 illustrates the correct use of this theme by Black.

The second major advantage (after the possible retreat of the queen to c2 should Black play ...c5, ...Nc6, ...Qb6, ...c5-c4 with or without ...Nf6... that is to say the subject of this update with reversed colours!) of going 2.Bf4 rather than the 'Old London' with 2.Nf3 is the possibility of 3.c4! after 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Bf5 for in case of 3.e3?! the pursuit of the symmetry by 3...e6! should prevent White from unbalancing the position with his c-pawn because of ...Bxb1 followed by ...Bb4+. But Black was too greedy in game 8...

Furthermore, sparing the move e2-e3 in case of 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Bf5 3.c4! to install the deadly mechanism Nc3, Nf3, Qb3 may allow White (with precise play (without overestimating his position against the idea ...Nf6-h5) to pass the b5 barrier AND keep absolute control of the London diagonal.

In such a case Black generally gets quickly crushed on the queenside, and game 9 was no exception to this rule.

See you soon, Eric

>> Previous Update >>