London System

London System


What is the London System?

The London System is an ultra solid white opening.

The London System is part of the Queen Pawn Opening family. (1.d4)

In fact, The London System is a relative to a few other lines.

I will give you a quick Family Tree.

I will show you some of the relative lines. I will not go in depth. However, I will give you a quick example.

- Colle System - Notice the Green highlights.

If the Dark Bishop stays inside of the pawn chain this is called the Colle System.

- London System - Notice the Yellow highlights.

If the Dark Bishop goes to f4 outside of the pawn chain this is called the London System.

- Torre Attack - Notice the Red highlights.

If the Dark Bishop goes to g5 outside of the pawn chain with the intension of pinning the knight on f6 this is called the Torre Attack.

Usually it goes their just to do an annoying pin on the knight. Sometimes they take the knight sometimes they don't.

- Trompowsky Attack - Notice the Red highlights.

If the Dark Bishop goes to g5 outside of the pawn chain with the intension of taking the knight on f6 right away this is called the Trompowsky Attack.

The normal move order of the Trompowsky Attack is:

1.d4 Nf6  2.Bg5

The reason I mention it here is because some of the Torre Attack lines can tranpose into Trompowsky Attack positions.

So if you do end up playing the Torre Attack or Trompowsky Attack try to be aware of both lines so you are not caught unaware.

As we can see some of these lines can be closely related if not sister/brother/cousin type of lines. lol

In this article, We will be taking a closer look into the London System.

The London System is a line recommended to beginners. The London System has sometimes been considered a beginners opening. However, Do not be fooled by this labeling. Grand Masters do regularly play this opening. It is a very sound opening. The main reason the London System is recommended to beginners is because its Pros usually out weight its Cons in beginner levels.

The London System is considered a very nice opening for several reasons.


  • It is easy to play.
  • It teaches beginners the value of chess principles.
  • It is ultra solid.
  • It is a line which can be played against anything black plays.
  • It is a "System" oriented line. Usually "Systems" are based on a ending position/formation rather than a serious of specific moves. Which allows the line to be very flexible.


  • It allows black to equalize fairly early.

(In lower level chess this con doesn't apply as much.)

(In middle level - high level chess this usually is considered a con because players seek to be more aggressive and try to make it hard for black to equalize so early)

  • It is considered rather passive.

(It is considered passive because it doesn't put any pressure on black in the opening.)

Usually players who play the London System are content with slowly building up in the beginning. Once both sides build up and develop their pieces they than begin having fireworks.

What is the London Systems move order?

The London system has several move orders. The reason why is because it is a "System" which trys to achieve a specific formation. In lines which are "Systems". They are based on a formation so the moves leading up to the formation can vary from chess player to chess player. Depending on different players preferences. The draw back of this is. By changing the move orders it does cause some issues. Which players who play the London System have to be aware of.

What does the London Systems Formation look like?

The below picture is an example of what the London System ending Formation looks like.

The above picture shows an example of how the London Systems ending position looks like. This is an image with out blacks move just to show an example. Depending on what black does white may bring there queen to c2 to set up a battery against the black h7 pawn or the queen may go to e2 setting up a battery along the a6 diagonal.

These queen moves are very common in the London System to allow white the chance to connect the rooks. Depending on what black plays the white queen may move accordingly.

By moving the white queen, White will have the chance to castle either queen side or king side depending on the situations in the game.

- Notice the green highlights/arrows -

One of the appeals of the London System is its spear like pawn formation. It is very solid. It looks like a pyramid to me. Which you have to admit is easy to remember lol.

- Notice the red highlight -

You can see how the bishop goes outside of the pawn chain. It is very active outside of the pawn chain. It remains flexible. The move h3 is often played as a way of giving the dark bishop a hiding square on h2. If black was to try and attack whites dark bishop with moves like (Nh5) white could than retreat the bishop to safety. So the move h3 is a useful move in this line.

  • We have looked at whites structure and general set up. Now lets take a closer look at whites opening themes.

Well to understand what whites themes in the opening should be. We first must play some moves for black.

The London is a system which allows black to use alot of different lines against it. The draw back of this is whites opening themes can change according to what black plays.

In this demonstration I will go over a line which is most commonly played. The reason why I want to go over this line is to avoid some beginner opening traps.

In truth this line is one of the only lines I have seen black do a sneaky opening trap.

Since you are reading this thread. I want you to know this trap so you don't fall into it.

Again I recommend this opening for beginners and I want to make sure they avoid traps.

I will start off at the beginning.

Move 1.d4 - Whites idea is just to take control of the center with a pawn. Very solid move. If white could have his way he would love to play another center pawn move. So at this point black has to respond.

Move 1...d5 - Black responses Classically trying to make sure white does not overwhelm them in the center with 2 pawns. The move d5 in a way trys to prevent/limit white from playing the move 2.e4.

My purpose in this thread is to try and teach you the London System. However, I do have a higher goal that goes beyond this thread. Which is to teach you to understand the chess opening. To understand when your opponent screw's up. So you can be a very strong chess player.

I will put it like this. We want to learn how to play the London System. We also want to get into the London System Structure comfortably.

However, if our opponent gives us the chance to mate them in 1 move are we going to be robots and keep going into the Structure? NO! Just keep that in mind as we go along.

I am going to add another move to this example just to refresh ourselves.

Move 1...a6 - Lets pretend we play 1.d4 and black responses with this move. What should we do? Well what we should do is abandon playing the London System and instead try claiming the center with another pawn.

Which I believe alot of beginners have trouble with.

Playing the London System is great. However, 1...a6 is dubious move. Lets take advantage of this dubious move by controlling the center with the move 2.e4.

This is one quick example of what I mean. When I say don't be a robot. Be flexible!

If your oppoent doesn't play 1...d5, 1...f5 or 1...Nf6 preventing the pawn move 2.e4.

Than play the pawn move e4. Control the center. No one will ever disagree with you for controlling the center with 2 pawns. Make sure your opponent plays good moves against you.

Ok so lets go back now to the other position.

Lets assume black plays correct moves 1...d5 and not dubious ones like 1...a6.


At move 2 many books show the most common move for white in this position is to play 2.Nf3 getting into the London System.

Against the move 1...d5 I am going to recommend you continue with 2.Bf4.

If you are not careful and play the 2.Nf3. You can find yourself in some trouble. To save yourself from having such problems. I am going to recommend playing the move 2.Bf4 instead.

I believe it is a slighty better move order. I will show you later on. The reason why I do not like the 2.Nf3 move order lol.

Move 2.Bf4 - At this point black has placed a pawn in the center preventing us from playing e4.

This is the time to continue with the London System.

At this point the best way to proceed is with Bf4.  Later on we are going to play e3 so we want our bishop outside of the pawn chain so it is active.


Move 2...Nf6 - Black at this point has a few moves they can play. The most natural and common move would be to develop the knight.

Everything is going good.

We are developing!

They are developing!


Move 3.e3 - After black has developed a piece, We continue with the pawn move e3. The e3 pawn supports our bishop and d4 pawn 100%. We have a very solid position.


Move 3...c5 - At this point black has a few options. Most of blacks options are not to bad for white. The move c5 is one of the only moves which can be tricky.

Blacks idea here is to challenge the center. If you remember white didn't play 2.c4 which would be like a Queens Gambit. Instead white played 2.Bf4 which can be seen as some what passive in blacks eyes.

Which is why black in some cases lashes out with c5.

In lower level chess you might not see this move. Alot of low level players don't lash out like higher level ones do. However, incase you do at least you will be prepared.

It will help you understand why I believe the move 2.Bf4 is better than 2.Nf3.


Move 4.c3 - At this point black is lashing out on our d4 pawn with c5. In this case I believe our best course of action is to give our center support.

The pawn move c3 gives our center d4 pawn extra support!


Move 4...Nc6 - At this point black will develop another piece and try and hit the d4 square a little more with his knight.


Here is were people who play the London System fall victim to a trap.

Move 5.Nd2 - This move is the Key move in the position. If white does not play this move they can find themselves in trouble.


Ok I am going to take a few mins to talk about what the trap is.

An why people fall into it.

In the London System we often as I have already mentioned play the bishop to f4 than play e3. Now the draw back of doing this is:

It means our bishop can never go back to c1 again.

Well some black sided players saw a weakness in the fact the bishop could not go back to c1!

The weakness they saw was the b2 pawn.

If the dark bishop stays on c1 it defends the b2 pawn.

However, As soon as it goes to f4 and the pawn move e3 is played it can no longer support the b2 pawn.

Black came up with an idea of playing a rather annoying move!

The move they found was Qb6!

Which bascially hits the b2 pawn.

Isn't that the sickest thing you have ever heard! Taking advantage of a bishop move. I tell you their are some truly sick chess players out there!

Probing the b2 pawn trying to make a weakness in the white position.

Well the way to defend this move is with the move 5.Nd2

The problem so to speak is if white plays 2.Nf3 in the begin than at move 5 white can not play Nd2 because they have inserted a Nf3 move.

I am going to show you both positions.


This position is with the 2.Nf3 variation.

The below position is with the 2.Bf4 variation.


You can see a difference in the position.

Instead of a knight on f3 there is one on d2.

Now here comes the problem

Move 5...Qb6 - This move hits the b2 pawn which is undefended.

Notice the difference between the knight on f3 and the knight on d2!

Watch how it plays out!

This position is with the 2.Nf3 variation.


This position is with the 2.Bf4 variation.

Whats response to this Qb6 threat is the same in both variations.

Move 6.Qb3 - Defending the b2 pawn.

This position is with the 2.Nf3 variation.


This position is with the 2.Bf4 variation.


At this point both queens are facing off.

However, Neither side wants to take the opponents queen.

If lets say black takes whites queen. White will than recapture with the A pawn which would than allow there rook an open file making there rook active.

Same thing would apply if white took blacks queen. Black would than have Open File for there rook.

Its a face off with neither side wanting to take!

Move 6...c4 - Black than plays this move to try and goat white into taking his queen.

As I said above white doesn't want to take the queen.

This move is a rather taunting move by black.

This position is with the 2.Nf3 variation.

This position is with the 2.Bf4 variation.

After the c4 move by black.

White once again doesn't want to take the black queen.

White is forced to retreat the queen yet at the same time defend the b2 pawn.

Move 7.Qc2 - This move avoids the queen trade and continues to defend the b2 pawn so black can't get it.

This position is with the 2.Nf3 variation.


This position is with the 2.Bf4 variation.

Now here is were a tactical shot/trap happens. In fact, This tactical shot is very deadly if white has played 2.Nf3 instead of 2.Bf4. The main issue is white does not have a knight on d2.

If white plays 2.Bf4 than later on forgets and plays 5.Nf3 instead of 5.Nd2 this tactical shot will still be deadly. The knight placement is a huge factor here.

The tactical shot black plays is a killer if a knight is not on d2.

Move 7...Bf5 - This move is a pure deflect which crushes the white position lol. If there is no knight on d2. If there is a knight on d2 than white is winning here lol.

This position is with the 2.Nf3 variation.

This position is with the 2.Bf4 variation.

At this point lets show the trap! Lets see what happens after white plays Qxf5

Move 8.Qxf5 - Showing what happens after the queen takes the bishop.

This position is with the 2.Nf3 variation.


This position is with the 2.Bf4 variation.


Move 8...Qxb2 - Black response by taking the pawn on b2

This position is with the 2.Nf3 variation.

At this point you can see why this variation is losing can't you??


The rook in the corner is trapped and can not move.

It can not be defended either.

Which means white is fixing to lose a rook with no compensation.

This position is with the 2.Bf4 variation.

At this point you can see why this variation is winning can't you??

Sense the knight is on d2 white can move the rook.

The rook can now move to a few different squares in safety.

Which means white has just won a free bishop from black and there rook can move to safety.

Hopefully this gives you some small insight on how to play against one of the critical lines in the London System.

As always, Thank you very much for reading. Hope you enjoyed yourself.

Have a Happy Day