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This month sees the most painful update for White since the Lemberger counter-gambit in the BDG! And all of this because of a pawn advance in the London System which is as common as it is ill-timed...

Download PGN of November '11 d-Pawn Specials games

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London System with early h3 v KID [A48]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.Nf3 d6 5.h3?! This, now or at any time up till White castles, preserves the bishop against ...Nh5 but loses a precious tempo. Something Black may now take advantage of by 5...0-0 6.Be2 c5!:

This is IM Yelena Dembo's main line in her book Fighting the anti-King's Indians, Everyman 2008, with the idea ...Be6 (against Nbd2-c4) ...Qb6 (threatening then to take on b2), ...Nc6, ...Rac8 in any order.

Since every White move h3,c3, Nbd2, 0-0 is also basically interchangeable, I will divide this study into thematic parts.

Part 1: Black keeps the central tension and White has to defend b2 at a certain stage (for instance following 6.c3 Be6 7.0-0 Qb6) When the black rook takes up a post on the c-file, the concrete problem of having protected b2 with the queen on the same file as the rook starts to tickle White because of recurrent tactical motives against his d4-pawn: With the queen on c2 and the idea Ng5 coming too late in Game 1:

with Qc2 and Nd2-c4 in Game 2, answered by ...Bxe6 and 13...Nxd4!:

with the queen on c1 in Game 3:

and with the queen on c1 and the combination of Na3, Rfd1 to protect d4 in game 4:

Part 2: As soon as White reduces the action of the g7-bishop down the long dark diagonal by c2-c3 in response to ...c7-c5, he introduces the option of changing the pawn structure by forcing Black to recapture with his d-pawn after dxc5 because ...Nh5 hitting the f4-bishop and the b2 pawn is not applicable anymore. Although I have refrained from punctuating her order of moves reproduced above, this is blatantly underrated in Dembo's book and will be settled next month.

This induces Black to exchange on d4 by playing ...c5xd4.

In sub-part 2A (running on from the previous part) Black still uses the idea ...Be6 before ...Qb6. Afterwards he may put his king's rook on c8 by ...Rfc8 before playing ...Nc6.

This did not work so well in game 5 with White recapturing on d4 with his e-pawn and defending his b pawn by Qc1, only because of a tactical omission though:

On the other hand it proved quite effective in game 6 with Qc2:

because of 12...Nb4!, winning material.

Recapturing with the c-pawn instead and intending to reply to ...Qb6 with Ng5 in the hope of chasing the e6-bishop away from the a2-g8 diagonal also failed tactically in game 7 after 12...h6!:

In any case, even if it is not played to prevent d4xc5, the reverse capture ...c5xd4 is a safe way to ensure at least equality for Black as soon as the opposing queen's knight cannot develop to c3 anymore.

He may then privilege the pseudo gambit idea of ...e7-e5 over the combination of ...Be6 and ...Qb6 and this is the subject of sub-part 2B.

Actually following the order of moves given in the introduction, 7.Nbd2?! cxd4! Simply refutes White's last move following 8.exd4 Nc6 9.c3 e5! 10.dxe5 dxe5 11.Nxe5 (It is too late, 11.Bg5 did not help White in game 9 either) 11...Nd5! 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Bg3 Re8!:

Black enjoys a massive score with this gambit of which this seemingly innocent move is the key... as demonstrated in game 8 which continued 14.0-0 Bxc3! 15.Nc4? Bxb2!

There is no drawback for Black delaying the capture on d4 until White plays c2-c3, although White may then recapture on d4 with his c-pawn instead. A different white pawn structure but exactly the same idea proved quite effective in game 10.

Sub-chapter 2C is dedicated to 7.0-0. This exposes White to the same structural defect as 7.Nbd2, without allowing Black to take advantage of the white king in the centre, however, as we saw in the previous games. In addition White may develop his queen's knight naturally to c3 in some lines. For this reason, Black should start to follow Dembo's recipe by 7...Qb6 ( alternatively 7...cxd4 intending 8.exd4 Qb6 9.Nbd2 but then 9.Nc3!? Qxb2 10.Qd2 with compensation!?) 8.Nbd2 Be6 and only after 9.Qc1?! consider taking on d4.

This is what Black did in Game 11/Game 12 more or less transposing into material already exposed in section 2A with Qc1. This illustrates one more time the principle that topicality, together with a reasonable average ELO rating, does not necessarily rhyme with relevance...

Actually 9.Ng5! Bd7 10.Nc4 Qc7 11.c3! transposes into the right move order (where White, having omitted an early h2-h3, plays it now) which I will soon examine to conclude this chapter on the London vs KID!

See you soon, Eric

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