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The London System is for Chumps ?


  • 22 months ago · Quote · #1

    zborg

    White has many options to keep an even game by playing a Reversed System with the white pieces.  A Reversed Slav, or London System, is just one example.

    White should always get at least an even game in the opening.  That's not an ambitious goal, but can be useful if you want to "bypass" the first 20 moves of your game, and instead concentrate on your middlegame and endgame practice.

    So in this Game in 15/5 below, my opponent believed he was "on the attack" with the black pieces.  Until he wasn't.

    Perhaps my 9) Qg3 was dubious, but I spotted a tactic that my agressive opponent (apparently) overlooked.  Seems he was entirely too focused on the e5 pawn break, and believed he was still "pressuring" my perfectly sound position.

    After the dust settled, he simply abandoned the game.  Whatever.

    Arguably, the "best" opening system is the one you know, and your opponent doesn't.  Build up a decent (and simple) repetoire starting with the black side, then simple turn this system around, and your initial opening system work for the white pieces is effectively done.  Very simple.

    White has dozens of easy-to-learn Reversed Systems to choose from.  Under USCF 1800, this is a VERY safe and simple way of enjoying your chess at Game in 10/5 up to Game in 60/5, yet still keep improving (through focused and judicious study) in the other two phases of the royal game.  Not studying white-side opening theory (at least initially), provides you with an IMMENSE amount of study time to foucus on middlegame and endgames, tactics and strategies.  Very simple.

    Nothing Fancy, in the game below.

    Black is faced with losing at least a piece, with 11)...Be5,  12) BxBe5, NxBe5  13) QxNe5 with a winning advantage for white.  Otherwise, Black will lose his queen for a Bishop.

    Personally, I prefer endgames.

    IMHO, Chess Openings are like a blizzard of "choreographed dance moves," built up over 500 years of study by Chess Masters, CC players, and more recently chess engines.

    Instead of this blizzard, just give me a level position after 20 moves, thematic knowledge of the characteristic middlegame, and a modicum of endgame technique.  Then, I'm as happy as a clam.  Smile 

    Compare, Win with the London System, by Kovacevic and Johnsen, Gambit Publications (2005).  Imbibe (and know cold) this book of less than 180 pages, and you're ready to go with the White pieces.  



  • 22 months ago · Quote · #2

    Prolic

    I see that black must lose a piece, but what's wrong with 11. ...Be5?

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #3

    zborg

    Agreed.  Black drops a piece in the opening.  And white has a winning advantage, after just 11 moves.

    On the surface it looks like Black is two tempi up after 9)...Ngf6, a perfectly natural developing move, on the surface.

    But that ain't the case.  Black will lose at least a piece from that position going forward.

    In hindsight, Black should probably not have exchanged his light squared bishop for white's Knight on f3.  But it "looked aggressive."

    People sometimes insist on playing agressively with the black pieces, regardless of white having the first move advantage.

    On the other hand, playing reversed black systems with the white pieces frees up immense amounts of your study time for the rest of the Royal Game.

    So build yourself a black repetoire, against e4 and d4 (or both simultaneously), and then just turn these systems around and use them (e.g. Reversed Slav) with the white pieces, until you break USCF 1800.  Simple.

    You can always "reinvent' your white repetoire with something sharper, if you decide later that you want to push through the USCF A Class.

    But keep in mind that only 10 percent of active tournament players in the U.S. ever break USCF 1800.  And that same 10 percent of players account for fully 50 percent of all games played per year.  Very Busy Guys.  Smile

    So I contend that players under USCF 1800 are wasting their time with a blizzard of complications, grounded in multiple opening systems.  And most players NEVER get past the cheap thrills of sharp, slashing opening systems.  Whatever.

    Indeed, I used to play the Scotch Gambit with white, and either QGA, or the Petroff with black.  Worked great under 1800.  But I was overwhelmed by the complications when I got above 1800, OTB.

    Now my rule of thumb for the opening is "KISS" (Keep It Simple, Stupid).  Take the advantage of the first move, put it in your pocket, and play defense until your opponent gives you something, as in the game above.

    Openings are largely a matter of personal taste.  I'm more concerned about strengthening my OTB game, getting effective practice time and having fun, all the while practicing my openings at relatively high speeds.

    Again, it's mostly a matter of taste.

    But the advantage of the first move is grossly exagerrated for players under USCF 2000.

    And besides, entirely too many people on this site are playing with a copy of MCO in their laps during their games.  It shows up in their opening playing, regularly.  They ain't just memorizing those openings, Sherlock.  Smile

    So why even bother with the complicated mainline openings?  Save that for your OTB play.  Work on your middlegame and endgame practice on Chess.com.

    Or hire a coach.

    Just a thought.  Feel free to disregard.  Most will.  And rightfully so.  Smile

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #4

    zborg

    That's funny, @Alapin.  I played the Alapin variation of the Sicilian from the white side as part of my 1) e4 repetoire, until the complications became unbearable.

    You can always buy Sveshnikov's 300 page opening book on the Alapin variation, and (pretend to) become an expert in just that one opening system against the Sicilian.  Indeed, it "keeps food on table" for the Sveshnikov family.  But you need an encyclopedic memory, inter alia.  Smile

    That's the just the kind of "hysterio-modern bullshit" that most people try on for size.  And they burn out along the way.

    Nonetheless, it remains a personal choice.

    Knock yourself out, if you are so inclined.  Smile

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #5

    zborg

    The pleasure is mutual.  Thanks for your posts.

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #6

    Fear_ItseIf

    I like it, although i only every play it after 1..d5 or 1..e6 when the b8-h2 diagonal has been weakened..

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #7

    AnthonyCG

    London is a good system to just get out of the opening quickly. However not being able to play the middlegame after any opening is never really the fault of the opening at all.

    I currently play the Alapin but I don't know any theory at all. You are supposed to go for sidelines and deviate as early as possible to get to middlegames you can understand. You can probably easily find one in 10 pages and that's if you bother to crack open a book. Personally I play it with the simple idea of getting an isolated pawn.

    For example after 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 Many players play 5.Nf3. This is best because it keeps White's options open. However a simple understanding of the position can do more for you than theory can. If my objective is an isolated d-pawn then 5.cxd4 is sensible. This move is not flexible nor is it best and gives Black an easier game. However I have no intention of using the resources gained from delaying the capture. I will simply meet d6/d5 with exd6 and get an isolated pawn.

    I will have an equal position just as in your London but I am not forced to play one way. Instead I get a dynamic positon that can be played in various ways by both sides with various piece configurations and plans. And the bonus is that I never had to look in a book to play this way.

    This in my opinion is a proper way to play any opening. Many players memorize lines and try to extract the utmost from the opening when it is never necessary. Playing defensively is fine I suppose but I never saw any logical reason for it at club level. The only thing that keeps players from 2000 is tactics anyway so why put your opponent in a position where he is better placed to exploit this common weakness?

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #8

    Fear_ItseIf

    I actually believe the london is among the better openings for amatuers to use.

    Funnily enough it makes or quite a dangerous weapon if you want it to be (most dont, since they play it for its safe nature). Sacrifices on the kingside are in bountiful supply <2000 .Due to the fluid and repetitive placement of whites pieces these sacrifice are quite thematic. Lines such as The morris countergambit (1.d4 d5 2.bf4 c5 3.e4!) and a transposition into the Vaganian gambit (1.d4 nf6 2.bf4 c5 3.d5 qb6 4.nc3 qxb2 5.bd2) which I play most often from my trompowsky (after 1..nf6 bg5) make it quite devastating for unsuspecting players.

    The main point ive always believed seperates the good london players from the poor is the use of the c4 move to gain space. Many people get too cosy with the c3-d4-e3 chain and refuse to take the opportunity to control the centre in sight of the opponents passive play.

     

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #9

    AnthonyCG

    Yes I agree. I have never played anyone that tried to gambit a pawn or play c4.

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #10

    cuneglas

    The problem with players who stick with beginner "systems" is that they are very inflexible. As another poster mentioned, many Colle/London system players will do anything to avoid playing c4, and stick with this rather passive pawn 'triangle' c3-d4-e3. They also stick resolutely with a certain generic plan, even though the position calls for some original thinking and intuition. 

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #11

    zborg

    Thanks to all for the posts above.

    Don't know what happened to @Alapin2002.  He seems to have disappeared from the site.

    In any case, I updated post #1, (and FYI), about 5 weeks ago, a much stronger player, @Pellik, had a wide ranging discussion on the London System.  The link is below, if you are interested--

    http://www.chess.com/forum/view/chess-openings/full-circle-with-the-london-system?lc=1#last_comment

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #12

    zborg

    cuneglas wrote:

    The problem with players who stick with beginner "systems" is that they are very inflexible. As another poster mentioned, many Colle/London system players will do anything to avoid playing c4, and stick with this rather passive pawn 'triangle' c3-d4-e3. They also stick resolutely with a certain generic plan, even though the position calls for some original thinking and intuition. 

    Sorry, but you are mistaken.  Gata Kamsky, former U.S. Champion and WCC contender plays the London System with some frequency.  Compare, Cyrus Lakdawala, Play the London System, (2010), page 234.

    And I see you don't even play Live Chess.  No surprise there.  CC players are too often purists and zealots, when it comes to opening systems.  You confuse beginning players with "beginner opening systems."

    Given your low online rating, @Cuneglas, "beginner" is an apt characterization of you.

    Is it not?  Smile

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #13

    melogibbo

    Cuneglass's online rating is 1600+ though, wouldn't consider him a beginner, maybe he's just bad on the clock.
    I started playing online chess more as you can have better games in my opinion with more time. 

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #14

    zborg

    Agreed.  But openings are still (largely) a matter of taste, under USCF 2000.

    With a modium of chess knowledge and a bit of work, ANYONE can play Quick Chess (Game in 10/5 up to Game in 60/5) comfortably, and it's lots of fun too.

    That's hardly a controversial assertion, don't you think?

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #15

    cuneglas

    zborg wrote:

    Sorry, but you are mistaken.  Gata Kamsky, former U.S. Champion and WCC contender plays the London System with some frequency.  Compare, Cyrus Lakdawala, Play the London System, (2010), page 234.

    And I see you don't even play Live Chess.  No surprise there.  CC players are too often purists and zealots, when it comes to opening systems.  You confuse beginning players with "beginner opening systems."

    Given your low online rating, @Cuneglas, "beginner" is an apt characterization of you.

    Is it not? 

    - Of course GM's who play the London system are going to be flexible. I was referring to the thousands of beginner players (who play nothing but these triangle type systems) who are inflexible when it comes to taking advantage of Black's passive or incorrect play. I play the London system myself sometimes, although I'm aware that certain Black set-ups require different responses and plans, not a generic 'one size fits all' approach. 

    - I play live chess on chesscube and FICS.   

    - My CC rating here is hardly a reliable source in judging my chess ability (due to time out's and early draw offers.) 

    - I play the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, which hardly makes me a CC purist and zealot! 

     

     

     

     


  • 22 months ago · Quote · #16

    zborg

    I agree with (almost) everything you said, @Cuneglas.

    So lighten up, and glad to make your acquaintance.  Smile

    But please don't poo-hoo fixed formation opening systems with the white pieces.  Because GMs like Tony Kosten, will suggest the same in Kosten, The Dynamic English, (1999).  That book, plus Mihail Marin, The English Opening, Vol. #1, (2009) will let you take on the massive theory of the Sicilian (as well as everything else black might play against you) using only "one-formation,"  i.e. Botvinnik's.

    On balance, I'm (mostly) making suggestion for how new players can rationalize their study time more effectively.  All the while conceeding that "openings" remain largely a matter of taste.

    On that simple point, there shouldn't be much controversy, except that it sometimes pisses off the coaches on this site.  Smile

    Disclaimer:  Good coaches are (probably) the best way to improve.

    But what's presented above is, IMHO, an effective (and much cheaper) way to improve your outcomes, especially with the white pieces.

    P.S., what do you think Bent Larsen was doing when he played The Larsen Attack at the highest GM levels?  He was playing a Reversed Queen's Indian Defense, from the white side.

    Yes, it's VERY simple.  That's the whole point.

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #17

    cuneglas

    Glad to make your acquaintance too zborg! Cool

    There is of course nothing wrong with fixed formation systems, only that one keeps an open mind and a flexible approach. 

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #18

    zborg

    Agreed.  Every game should be an adventure.

    Even if some of us (might) prefer to "jump over" the first 20 moves.

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #19

    zborg

    I almost always steer for the endgame.  Except when my opponent is clueless about how to play the black pieces against a Reversed Slav system (from the white side).

    Indeed, in about one of every 30 games (using a Reversed Slav), white gets the kind of attack shown below.

    Nonetheless, I still prefer endgames.

    Game in 15/5. Black resigned at move #23.

    Playing "defense" with the white pieces is the easiest way to get a decent 40-60 move game.  I recommend using Reversed Opening systems (with white) to anyone who will listen.  Smile

    The safest and simplest "formation" that I am aware of is a Reversed Schlecter Grunfeld.  Do a kingside fianchetto, pawns on c3 and d4, Knight on f3, and castle kingside.  VERY simple.

    That particular "reversed formation" requires no specialized chess knowledge, (unlike the English, or KIA).  But you should almost always get a decent game from the white side, without the headaches associated with studying lots of openings, or deep variations within openings.

    Just a thought.  Feel free to disregard everything I have asserted.  Smile

    And, Best Wishes to All.

  • 22 months ago · Quote · #20

    APawnCanDream

    I play similar to this as white most games for now as I've been focusing on tactics and end games and don't want to worry about openings or its associated theory. I don't claim any particular advantage with it, just a playable middle game which is all I want out of the opening at the moment. :)


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