The Ultimate London System
"A personal Tribute to The London System"

The Ultimate London System

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                                                            Introduction to the London System... 

I have been playing the London System for years now and it's time I pay tribute to a historic chess monument from the 19th century, but first a little intro...

The London System is one of the oldest and most solid systems in Chess, and belongs to one of the few Queen pawn variations that hasn't theoretically changed a lot. I think the main reason is that there is only one plan for white: Just set up d4, Bf4, Nf3, e3, c3 and h3. And maybe play e4 in the future. But this isn't just a simple truth. If black responds inaccurately he will find himself in a lifeless position where he will be under pressure from whites positional advantage. I can't claim the London can promise an objective advantage but it takes all most no time to prepare, it's very sound and leads to original and unexplored positions where you can squeeze opponents unfamiliar with the positions. Most other openings can't offer this without learning loads of theory. "Bamboozle Your Opponent with the London System!"

                                            Some history on the London System

JamesMason.jpg 19th century Irish master James Mason, 1849-1905

James Mason (actually he was adopted and his birth name is unknown) played the London System several times in the 1880's and for a while this line was called the Mason variation, in his honor.  Even attacking players such as Alekhine have played the system. The London doesn't have to be played in timid fashion.

Modern London Heroes
Who are the best players to follow for the London system? Well there is Carlsen, Kramnik, and Aronian to name a few....
Just take a look at this masterpiece by the current world champion! He CRUSHES his opponent in less than 25 moves(!) Once again proof that the London is playable in an aggressive style. 

The Robust and Universal London System

The London is practically good enough against any line after 1.d4 but it's better against some lines than others.  Still most replies are playable against the London but white's positional pull is omnipresent. 

 You can play the London against: 

1.d4 c5 2.c3 then 3.Bf4...

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d5 3.Nf3...

1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 f5 3.Bf4...

1.d4 e6 2. Nf3  g6, d5 or Nf6 then 3.Bf4...
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 c5 e3 or c3....

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 c5 3.c3...

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.Nf3 e6 4.e3...

1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 or Bf4 ...

The Flexible London System

The London has many subtleties and is purely defined by the moves d4 and Bf4. 

    Here are a few of the possible set ups I've had success with: 

1. d4-Bf4-e3-c3-Bd3-Nbd2-Nh3 the so called Patzer-Knight variation (not bad to play a surprise weapon)

2. d4-Bf4-Nf3-e3-Nbd2-c4 a less solid and more ambitious approach using the London.

3. The Barry Attack (a.k.a Jobava Prix Attack) is for not for the faint of heart. It is relatively a modern treatment of the London and it's very aggressive. It's possible to score many quick wins with it. It goes:

d4-Bf4-Nc3- Qd2, h4 or e3 then with I ideas of h4-h5-Rxh5! Sacs, and Nb5 attacking c7 is a typical theme. f3-g4 is typical as well. If you want to play more solidly Nf3 planning Ne5 is also good. Here is a loss by the young Indian GM prodigy against the Barry Attack. Although to be fair he got revenge on this line by beating Wesley So and Axel Bachmann as the black side of it.

4. d4-Bf4-c3-e3-Nf3-Nbd2-Be2-0-0 which is pretty standard London play
5.d4-Bf4-c3-e3-Nf3-Nbd2-Bd3 (or if position permits Bc4 like in Alekhine-Euwe) is a slightly different but pretty classical London as #4.
5. If taking your bishop out early is too risky for you style then you can set up the Colle System which Alekhine also has used aggressively with great success. There is the Classical ( Koltanowski) Colle. The other flexible system that many good players have used is the Zuckertort Colle. For more information on the Zukertort Colle may I point you to: Zuke 'Em - the Colle-Zukertort Revolutionized: A Chess Opening for Everyone. by David Rudel.  A very good book in my opinion by the way...
 London System Books & DVDs
In my opinion here are the top 5 best London books and DVDs Series in aleatory order:
1: The Agile London System: A Solid but Dynamic Chess Opening Choice for White; by Alfonso Romero Holmes & Oscar De Prado. So amazing that I had to have it as my profile picture.
2. The London System with 2.Bf4 . A Nice DVD by English GM Simon Williams
3. Foxy 175-177: Play the London System, Complete set (3DVDs)- Chess Opening Video DVD by GM Ron W. Henley. I received this by a raffle prize at The National Open Chess Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada as of last year 2017. Right before the round I looked at the DVD and prepped one of it's lines and drew a much higher-rated opponent! Amazing story but shouldn't be repeated again as it's risky of course. 
4. Play the London System by Cyrus Lakdawala. It is one of the best books on the London yet and I purchased it immediately. I didn't regret my decision!
5. Winning with the Modern London System - Nikola Sedlak.  I'm still trying to expand my knowledge of this great opening as much as I can. 
I Hope to see you in my next article about my love for crushing the Grunfeld in London Style!