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I see 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 c5 3.d5 as more of an attempt to adapt a classical d-pawn reaction to the 'unclassical' London bishop's sortie... which is not without causing White worries, as we saw last time!
So this month I will concentrate on the 'typical' London approach 3.e3, offering Black a wide choice of possible transpositions.

Download PGN of September '11 d-Pawn Specials games

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London System 2.Bf4 c5 [A45]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 c5! 3.e3:

Only specific moves may disrupt White's 'Londonitude', however, and the first one is 3...Nd5 with 4.Bg3 Qb6 when White replies 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.bxc3.

The study of the lines 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bg5 Ne4! 4.Bf4/Bh4 c5 5.e3 Qb6 6.Nc3 which have already been examined in this section may prove useful for a better understanding of this apparently dangerous position for Black. After a lot of complications this didn't prove the case in Game 1 following 6...e6!? 7.Nf3 Qb2! forcing 8.Kd2:

On the other hand, White was more successful in Game 2 after 6...d5 7.Rb1 Qa5 8.Bb5+ Bd7 9.Bxd7 Nxd7 10.Ne2 b6 11.0-0 e6? Allowing 12.c4! With a strong initiative.

The immediate exchange 3...cxd4 4.exd4 only favours White unless he has nothing other than 5.Nf3 or 5.c3 after 4...e6 as 5...b6! intending ...Ba6 at the appropriate moment (i.e. when White's king's bishop has moved from f1) is actually unpleasant, as Kamsky-Topalov Sofia 2007 testifies in the section. For this reason I have advocated 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 c5 4.c3 rather than 4.e3. Likewise I have long been reluctant to get my London bishop out on move 2 because 2.Bf4 c5 3.c3 was impossible, as we saw last month. Using the momentary lack of occupation of the f3 square in some lines with moves like 5.Nc3! or the refined 5.Bd3!? leads to interesting play, however. Actually in the same spirit as after the critical 4...Qb6 5.Nc3 d6 the move 6.a3 represents the good and standard indirect protection of the b2-pawn. It did not provide White more than easy play in Game 3.

Instead I may recommend 6.Bb5+! Bd7 7.a4:

which brought White a sizzling success in game 4 after 7...a6 8.Bc4!? Where the intervention of White's a-pawn into the game proved interesting later on.

5...e6 6.a3 also brilliantly illustrated the white attacking potential in game 5.

Things are more complicated when Black keeps the central tension by 3...Qb6 4.Nc3 d6!? as in game 6, cutting off the action of the London bishop which implies Black likely threatens to take on b2, defending against Nb5 with ...Qb4+ -a5. Similar to the above, then, the line 5.Bb5+! Bd7 6.a4 a6 7.a5 Qc7 gets rid of the b-pawn concern. It would have offered White a pleasant game had he changed the bishops immediately with 8.Bxd7+ Nxd7 instead of playing the overly clever 8.Ba4?!, for playing ...b7-b6 was part of the black plan anyway when a white piece on a4 would be badly placed.

Instead 5.Bd3?! is dubious although it must be the only alternative to continue in gambit style with the idea 5...Qxb2 6.Ne2. It completely faltered in game 7 after the simple 5...g6 without Black subsequently doing anything special.

Since 4...Qxb2 may lead to a forced draw, depending upon White's choice, as we shall see next time, 4...e6! is the move to address the validity of the White set-up and more generally his choice of what to do with his attacked d-pawn on move 3:

game 8 transposed into more familiar territory after 5.a3 Nc6 6.Nf3 - an important position we know from the key game Pakleza-Moskalenko, and Moskalenko's consequent work for ChessBase Magazine on the Nimzo-London. Instead of 6...Nh5! however, Black chose 6...a6!?:

and got a good game as well after the opponent did not manage to successfully solve the problem of the Veresov/Reversed Chigorin Knight on c3.

Nevertheless, 5...d5! is probably Black's best as game 9 showed, then 6.Nb5 was not to be feared after the tempo loss a2-a3, and Black could simply reply 6...Na6.

Therefore 5.Rb1!? appears to be the most adequate way to deal with the b2-pawn attack. Thus I dare formulate a guideline from the previous 7 games:
-when Black retains the possibility of advancing his pawn to d5 in one go, White should definitely get rid of the concern of his hanging b-pawn by opting for this move.
-Alternatively White should employ the idea Bb5+ and a2-a4 whenever it is possible against an early ...d7-d6.

Game 5 is an exception because the early exchange on d4 allowing White to concentrate on development in gambit style due to the disappearance of the ...Nh5xf4 concern.

In game 10, anyway, White obtained a dangerous attack after 5...cxd4 6.cxd4 Bb4 7.Nf3 0-0 8.Bd3 Qa5 9.0-0! Bxc3?! 10.bxc3:

and Black soon fell for a textbook double bishop sacrifice.

See you soon, Eric

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