ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
Time to buckle down to the 'piece de resistance' this month with 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 d5 4.e3 c5 5.c3 Nc6 6.Nbd2 Bd6, from a Nimzo move order (that is to say when White has not had the choice to delay Nf3...) and with Black fighting for the control of the key e5-square by proposing the exchange of the dark-squared bishops, after having more or less forced the supporting c2-c3.

Download PGN of October '08 d-Pawn Specials games

London System [D02]

Since just about the whole white strategy (at least the way I perceive it...) revolves around installing a knight on e5 and attacking, this is naturally a better move for Black than the ...Be7 I examined last time:

7.Bxd6?! This "seems to be thought a little compliant" but there are some subtleties about this decision. For instance, the evaluation of this idea is different if White can react immediately with c2-c4, especially if his queen's knight still stands on b1 instead of d2. Consequently, on the other hand, it means that Black may then take back on d6 with his c-pawn...

I shall clarify this in the near future together with any possible differences against the same black set-up from a 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 angle.

In Game One Black avoided a nasty and well concealed trap, existing in the Slow Slav with reversed colours, after 7...Qxd6 8.Bb5 0-0 9.0-0 b6!, and with his bishop not really actively placed on b5, apart from preventing ...e6-e5, the whitest dreams of an advantage generated by the extra tempo were soon washed out.

7.Ne5 is too early, however, for at this stage the knight is not stable because of the direct question 7...Qc7 8.Bb5? This ridiculous move is given as the 7.Ne5 main line in J-K with 8...Bd7! (Sic) as a reply instead of the obvious 8...0-0 9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.0-0 Rb8 11.Rb1 Ba6 12.Re1:

with such a difference in activity as was shown in Game Two, it is clear that this section has not been checked by the Croatian co-author.

After 8.Ndf3 instead, the general counter-strategy of installing a knight on e4 in return in order to play ...f7-f6 is made easier, but Black has to be precise in order to bypass some opposing ideas of playing against his structure, 8...cxd4! 9.exd4 Ne4! Intending ...f7-f6 instead of Game 3's terrible 9...Nh5?? 10.Nxf7!+-.

Following 8.Nxc6 immediately, 8...Bxf4 9.Nxa7 Rxa7 10.exf4 cxd4 is the critical line. White should pursue by 11.cxd4 Qxf4 12.Nf3 0-0 with an opposing slight edge due to the permanent weakness on d4, attackable from a4 with a rook, incidentally. Instead 11.Bb5+? is a known mistake from which Black could have profited in Game Four by 11...Bd7 12.Bxd7+ Nxd7 13.cxd4 Qxf4 14.Nf3:

14...Qe4+! intending 15.Qe2 Rxa2!

Finally, there is 8.Bg3, therefore, 8...Bxg3?! 9.hxg3 Qd6 Clearly, if you want to push White to play the London System, this is the variation to make appear as a main line!

This is the case in J-K ("Winning with..." if necessary to recall) although, with a hint of etymological humour, they almost APOLOGIZE for this, while they are at it, with the ingenuous sentence : "This isn't entirely desirable, opening the h-file and giving White more control of f4. However Black is planning ...e5, and it is certainly better to open the h-file now than after castling."

Black did not listen to this after 10.Bb5 0-0?!, and succumbed to a blitzkrieg attack in Game 5.

Even the better 10...Bd7 11.Bxc6 Bxc6 12.Ne5 proved unpleasant for Black with a king on e7 in Game 6. Indeed, this move goes well with the opening of the h-file because of the consequent difficulty for Black to get rid of the knight with the move ...f7-f6.

8...Qc7? Appears quite logical at first sight, after what we have just seen: With the e5-square under control, it seems nothing can stop Black from freeing his game with the ...e6-e5 advance... Unfortunately for Black, the gods of the London system have created the important possibility of 9.dxc5, which the applicant should be aware of, both here and in similar positions.

After 9...Bxg3 10.hxg3 e5 White has regularly missed the good move 11.c4! in this position and Game 7 was no exception. Opening the c-file while contesting the opposing space, centre and advance in development is assuredly a better way to limit any (if there really is any...) compensation for the c5 loss!

Whatever the case is, the ratio 7...Bxg3-Qc7 /7...0-0-7...Qe7 is approximately 1/10, so do not be surprised if (like myself...) you can whistle before finding an opponent that will freely open your h-file!

7...Qe7 Happens to be Cox's suggestion. The refinement of playing it before castling is obscure but it sets a different type of position after the forced sequence 8.Ne5 Bxe5 9.dxe5 Nd7:

10.f4 may be best. Indeed, Black has to react quickly against the ruptures e3-e4 and c3-c4, emphasizing the awkward positioning of his forces, especially Nd7/Bc8. Unfortunately for him this will dangerously revive the dozing monster on g3. However, White played the imprecise 10.Nf3 in Game 8 and found nothing to oppose 10...c4!, with the idea ...b5, ...Bb7, ...Nc5 reviving Black's two worst placed pieces.

As for myself, in such positions I have always sought to activate my queen first by 10.Qh5, in the direction of the opposing kingside prior to defending the e5-pawn. It also helps to prevent the move ...f7-f6, and that may well be the most important. So only after 10...h6 playing 11.Nf3, for a strategy that was crowned with success in Game 9 when Black, instead of the critical 11...c4, chose to bury his queen alive with 11...Qf8? 12.Bb5!

7...0-0 8.Bd3 Qe7 9.Ne5 is a much more common move order to reach the critical position of this black set-up against the London system, that comes in second position in terms of popularity in the d-Pawn Specials universe (after almost exactly the same moves... but with a Torre bishop instead!)

9...Nd7! then pursues the fight for the control of the e5-square against which there are only two sensible ways to react:

10.h4!? Produced an interestingly unbalanced position in Game 10 after 10...cxd4!, an impressively profound decision, 11.exd4 Bxe5 12.dxe5 Ndxe5 13.Bxe5 Nxe5 14.Bxh7+ Kxh7 15.Qh5+ Kg8 16.Qxe5+ f6 17.Qe2 e5 18.h5:

When counter-play for Black arrived just when needed via the semi open c-file thanks to the manoeuvre ...Rc8-c4!

Secondly, 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Qa4. This interesting plan, attempting to take advantage of the black queen's positioning, is practically unknown, or at least ignored by Cox. However, it is possible to trace its first appearance to where it was mentioned in the Chess Informator. Why hasn't it gained in popularity since then? Certainly not because of the automatic 11...Bb7?, where Black failed to see through his opponent's intentions, and stood on the verge of losing one pawn for very little compensation in Game 11. But probably because of the gambit 11...e5! 12.Qxc6 Rb8:

when further analysis (possibly on the occasion of one of my coming games ...) is required.

Neither 10.Ndf3 (extra - game 12) nor 10.f4?! (extra - games 13 and 14) prove appropriate to counter the final touch of the black plan, 10...f6!.

As for 9.Bxd6 Qxd6 ('looping the loop', as we say in French, with Game 1, where the bishop had been better developed on b5, like the snake of theoretical chess knowledge biting its own tail ;o) White, in topical extra - game 15, found out after 10.0-0 e5 11.dxc5 Qxc5 12.e4 Bg4 13.Re1?! Rad8 14.Qc2 Bxf3 15.Nxf3 dxe4 16.Bxe4 Nxe4 "like many before him, that the way to draw with a stronger player is not to make a series of exchanges into a slightly inferior position".

See you soon, Eric