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As I happen to run a big chess club (Montpellier) the beginning of the season happens to be a delicate period for me. Last year I was even replaced for 3 updates…But I am back! Though with a certain delay, and the introduction to the long expected saga of two set-ups clashing on the dark squares: London System VS KID.

Download PGN of October '10 d-Pawn Specials games

London System vs KID [A47-8]

This 1st part is dedicated to Black's most obvious idea of ...Nbd7 and ...e5 against the bishop on f4.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4 Bg7 4.h3 0-0 5.e3 d6 6.c4:

At this stage of my evolution within the enchanted d-Pawn Specials realm, I began to feel more and more sceptical, on general grounds but especially against a dark squared set-up, of the positioning of the bishop on g5 when Bxf6 turned out not to be a threat, Thus, after quitting the Tromp I started my London career with this move order. Without any preparation at all, my idea was to play a Smyslov (characterized by the set-up d4, c4, e3, Nc3, Nf3, Bg5) which I had tackled in my youth but with the bishop 'better' placed on f4 than on g5.

Incidentally, as far as this development of White's queen's bishop is concerned, it is also a good moment to set out the second rule (after the first, which is to avoid the Grünfeld! That is to say refrain from playing c2-c4 until the opponent has committed his pawn to d6): Whatever the move order in the configuration London VS KID, White must absolutely always keep the option of the advance of his c-pawn two squares followed by the development of his queen's knight to c3, in order to develop his play when Black has not himself played an early ...c7-c5.

Indeed, when White plays untimely moves like Nbd2 or c2-c3 thinking he is being solid, he will at best emerge out of the opening with an equal and prospectless position against correct opposing play.

And this is not unrelated to the dubious reputation of the London as an opening system...

6...Nbd7 7.Nc3 c6?! (A common move in the King's Indian in order to gain control over the b5 and d5 squares and activate the queen which simply does not help Black to achieve his goal of advancing his e-pawn two squares.) 8.Be2. This excellent idea of ...e5 is not so easy to implement, indeed, as shows the natural 8...Re8 9.0-0 e5? 10.dxe5 dxe5 11.Nxe5! winning a pawn:

So Black went for 8...Qa5 in Game 1, and 8...Qe8 in Game 2 and actually managed to make White's bishop hide after 9.0-0 e5 10.Bh2, only to end up in a difficult position because of the recurrent weakness of d6 and the difficulty of mounting any serious counterplay on the kingside.

7...e6!? is already a better attempt to put a pawn on e5 in two goes but without weakening the d6 square. Nevertheless, precisely this tempo allowed White to get the ideal position in Game 3 following 8.Be2 b6 9.0-0 Bb7 10.Qc2 Qe7 11.Rfd1, ready for e6-e5.

7...b6! Immediately is correct, 8.Be2 Bb7 9.Qc2 (9.0-0 Ne4! and after the waking-up of the Black dragon on g7, White will not be able to stop the move ...e7-e5 in one go, which is equivalent to an easy equalization for Black as will be seen next time from a much more relevant order of moves.) 9...e5! Still:

10.Bh2 exd4! (taking advantage of the fact that White cannot recapture with the knight at this moment because g2 is hanging.) 11.exd4 d5?, obsessed with the idea of unbalancing the position, but this proved too optimistic in Game 4 after 11.cxd5 Nxd5 12.0-0! leaving c7 hanging.

At the time, this game left me with a mixed impression... However, more because I had felt for the 1st time the unease of the idea, ...b7-b6, ...Bc8-b7, ...Nf6-e4 and the difficulty of avoiding it with my move order, rather than that I had realized the real danger of the position.

As a matter of fact, I understand only now, having made a position search in my database, why my opponent was playing so quickly and confidently: If not the plain refutation, this is the best line against the d4, c4, Nc3, Nf3, Bf4 system... something that he, as a long experienced KID player, certainly did not overlook!

So I understood I needed to be more circumspect about the use of the tempo-costing h2-h3 move, but I was still groping around with the move order and 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4 Bg7 4.e3 0-0 5.Be2 d6 6.c4?! collided with an another important black resource: 6...Nh5! 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 g5, intending 9.Nfd2 Nf4! 10.exf4 gxh4:

followed by ...c7-c5 This is the problem when c2-c4 is played too early, White does not have the c2-c3 move to somewhat muzzle the Bg7 against this idea. So I had to make up for it by 9.Bg3 'cheaply' giving up my bishop in Game 5.

While all this (regarding an untimely c2-c4 by White) is true, the "ideal" position attained by White in Game 3 still enjoys some relevance within the London complex. For instance in case of the inaccurate, though frequent, Nimzo move order 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 b6 4.e3 Bb7 5.h3?! g6?! 6.c4 Bg7 7.Nc3 0-0 8.Be2 d6 9.Qc2 (Now that f3 is defended White can stop ...Ne4.) 9...Nbd7 10.0-0 Qe7 11.Rfd1:

when Black's new idea of 11...h6!? 12.Bh2 Nh7 did not prevent White from engaging play on the queenside after 13.Rac1 intending Nc3-b5, c4-c5 in Game 6.

Reached from a totally different move order, 11...a6 is another option for Black in this key position which called for an identical judgment had White continued 12.Bh2 Rfd8 13.b4! in Game 7.

See you soon, Eric