Chess Postmortem #4: London System

Chess Postmortem #4: London System

Aug 16, 2016, 10:41 AM |

I looked back at some of my recent games to decide on an instructive post. I learned a lot from two of my draws and couldn't decide which to choose to blog about. I've decided to take a look at both these games in depth.

First up, is a game as black against the London system. I had seen my opponents recently featuring the London system as white pretty regularly. I had rarely faced it and didn't have a good grasp of what to do as black. White <em>typically</em>&nbsp;plays the London to avoid sharp concrete lines meaning to set up quick and <strong>solid</strong> development. However, that means that black has a multitude of options. Black set ups can vary from the structures based on the Dutch, Kings Indian Defense, Queens Indian, Benoni, or various structures based on d5. I have typically met d4 with d5 and thus looked into a couple lines here (typically d5 with or without an early e6).

Here's the game with my annotations.



Lessons learned:

1. A few move order subtleties to consider here.

  • 2. Bf4 is considered better than 2. Nf3.
    • 2. Nf3 can lead to 8. Qc1 (see variation above) where black is better. Delaying Nf3 allows white the tempo to play Nd2 (4...Nc6 5. Nd2 Qb6 6. Qb3 c4 7. Qc2) and white's queen can no longer be pushed around with 7...Bf5! as white's rook won't be a target.
    • 2. Bf4 also allows some unique positions such as 2...e6 3. e3 Bd6 4. Bxd6 Qxd6 5. Qg4!?
    • Black can trick white into an early Nf3 against set ups with d5 via. 1. d5 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5, but white may try 3. c3 instead delaying development of his "London" bishop.
  • In d5 setups I like 2... Nf6 instead of 2... c5 which allows e4 and the Morris gambit (a reversed Albin Countergambit; also could come from Blackmar-Diemer Gambit), which results in wild positions.
    However, if white plays 3. e3 or c3 which are much more common, black is doing great in a more typical London position. He can also transpose into an exchange Caro Kann (3...cxd4) with the bishop misplaced on f4 for white.

2. I'm not taking advantage of my opponents mistakes. A common weakness I've identified in many games at my level. In short, I think for me, its due to shallow calculation. I saw 39...dxc4, but quickly rejected it rather than working to see the possible position I might get.

3. There are several other setups against the London which I want to eventually dive into. I've only discussed essentially one plan (group of ideas) here.

4. Other themes to know in d5 setups against the London: One plan is to play Bd6 trading off the "London bishop" If black drops back (Bg3) depending on the position it may be a bad idea to trade allowing white to open up his rook on the h-file. White often considers h4 h5 and a kingside assault. White may also aim for Nf6-Ne5.

5. Objectively drawn rook endgames are still VERY tricky. Its hard not to think I may mess up if white were to continue by getting his king to g4. Endgames are still a weakness.

6. My goal in the next few games is to to actively try to identify more candidate moves for my opponent. I hope to avoid allowing simple tactics. This should help me to calculate deeper and at the same time to calculate accurately.


Blog previously posted on my personal site here in a slightly different format.