London System Q & A
12 Questions About the London System

London System Q & A

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Hi Everyone!

Today I will conduct a question and answer blog about the London System. (LS QA 12) for London System, 12 Question & Answers. It will be divided into 4 sections. It's intended to be a useful index for curious questions, offer elaborate direction by a national master who's experienced in the London, and for seasoned Londoneers perhaps several gems that are heart-warming to look at.


Q1: How long have you been playing the London System?

A: I have been an ardent adherent of this practical system for nearly 7 years now.

Q2: What is your score with the London in tournament games?

A:  I have the respectable score of 50% in the London, most of my opponents however were several hundred points above me. London is good for beating unfamiliar and weak opponents, but it also dreads the stronger player trying to go for the win.

Q3: What inspired you to play the London System?

A: I was losing many games because of the opening. I'd spend a lot of time practicing tactics and studying endgames only to be caught by prep and get blown off the board. In a more frequent and slightly less dire scenario, I'd burn up lots of time in the opening, survive until late in the game where time trouble caught up with me happy.png. After beginning to play the London System I was able to get through the first 10-15 moves safely and begin to outplay my opponent without time pressure haunting me at the end of the game.  I was playing the Classical London System (with the c3, e3 set-up) and I was able to exploit my better understanding of chess over opponents who were theory fanatics. As I advanced as a player, I've included other variation such as the Jobava-Prie` variation in my repertoire. IM Andranik Matikozian (who was my coach) first recommended me to play the LS, and I played it with Bf4,e3,c4!? Very aggressively. 

Theory and Fashion in the LS:

Q4: Who are good modern top players in the LS to follow?

A: Important question! It's key to see how the elite grandmasters are developing our opening. There are the established names Carlsen, Aronian, Nakamura, Grischuk. But it may even be more educational to study games by some less known players. For instance, Czech GM Pavel Blatny is an innovative player who pioneered lines in the Jobava-Prie`. It's educational to see a creative masterpiece in action such as the following game:

Q5: Does 1.d4 followed by 2.Bf4 actually allow white to claim an advantage?

A: In short, my honest answer is .... no! But a well prepared Londoneer is highly unpleasant for black to face, theory-wise and also strategically, if white is properly acquainted with all of the thematic pawn thrusts, piece maneuvers, etc. My chess philosophy is that black is equal with correct play against every opening. That's why practical systems such as the LS are becoming more popular than ever.

Q6: I've noticed an uptick in popularity in the Jobava-Prie`/Barry Attack, is it the strongest approach to employ as white?

A: It depends. If you are natural attacker or better, if your opponent won't anticipate the Jobava-Prie`, then this is definitely the smartest choice for you. All things equal it's not objectively better than any other London line but it would be efficacious to employ against certain opposition. A useful book for deeper investigation is A KILLER CHESS OPENING REPERTOIRE BY SUMMERSCALE

Useful Miscellaneous Tips:

Q7: When is h3 a useful prophylactic measure against Nh5, and when is it rather unnecessary?

A: It's usually a good option in the Classical London to play c3 but this doesn't mean it's always necessary! Take a look at the following game where white allowed doubled pawns that helped form a bind in the center. white was positional better, better, until it culminated in an astonishing attack. In the final position the threat is Qh8+! Bxh8 Rxh8+ Kg7 g5!! a silent but deadly move when Rh7# is inevitable.

Q8: Against Pirc/Kings Indian/Modern defenses is it still best to play the classical London?

A: I have played both the classical London, Jobava-Prie`/Barry Attack, and other lines against these systems. My favorite is Playing 2.Bf4 followed by Nf3, Nbd2 and h3 right away before committing my c and e pawns, then based on black's moves I will see if I can play e4 in one step or play an e3 c4 line where I get queenside space. 

Q9: What are the pros/cons of the 2.Nf3 move order to the London?

A: This is sound order you might want to use to mix things up. The main difference is that delaying Bf4 can make black want to commit to a system he doesn't normally play against the London, however, the downside it that you cannot select London lines with a pawn on f3 such as the Patzer knight variation or Barry Attack.

Book Recommendation and other resources:

Q10: What is the best book on the London System?

A: Sedlak's Chess Evolution Winning With the Modern London System and  Winning With the Modern London System - Part 2 are the best in my opinion, other good ones are the Agile London System followed by Cyrus Lakdawala's  book Play the London System which contains good explanations.

Q11: How should I study the book in order to absorb the maximum amount of knowledge.

A: I recommend the "chunking" method. Take one chapter and read in scrupulously, then when you play a game and your opponents deviates from the book line check the what to do with an engine or coach. If your opponent plays a line you haven't studied yet in the book, then go study just the line your opponent played from that chapter. You won't be overwhelmed, skipping around too much in the book, and still prepared for the most likely replies from your opponent.

Q12: What should I do if the book lines aren't leading to good results?

A: This is a serious problem if you encounter it, if you realize that the line is objectively sound but you don't properly grasp the ideas, ask a coach. Another solution is to check out another book recommendation and see if it matches your style better by looking at some games in Megabase. In the case all else fails, you should probably be working on your other parts of your game. (The problem isn't the London, it's you wink.png)