when I started my chess career the London system was the main "weapon" of choice for me. it has everything a chess player wants- a solid opening that doesn't require a lot of theory to learn.
the London system is a popular opening that can be used by all levels. the London starts with d4 but can be reached from nf3. it's a system-based opening. white can often follow the same moves and often ignores the opponent.
the London system starts after-
bf4 is the signature move of the London system. whites plan is quite simple- he wants to put his pawns on the dark squares and his bishop outside the pawn chain thus not restricting it like in most queen's gambit declined variations.
his main plan is to position his light-squared bishop on d3 often starting an attack on the kingside with the help of the minor pieces and the queen on c2. there is also a plan of playing e4/c4 and breaking up the center.
in the picture, we can see a dream position for the London system player.
one of the benefits for the London system player is that the king isn't castled yet. this gives white attacking prospects(pushing the h pawn up the board and so on).
let's look at a normal London system opening moves
black wants to undermine the white pawn center. playing c5 can help black weaken whites' strong c3,d4, and e3 pawn chain.
White's main point here is to strengthen his center.
black furthur pressures the center but we don't care at the moment.
developing our light-squared bishop to the best and most natural square, eying the h7-b1 diagonal and the f1-a6 diagonal.
black's main objective in this move is to allow the dark-squared bishop to develop and trade our bishop- a good bishop looking at the h2-b8 diagonal and placed outside the pawn chain.
White's goal is to develop all his pieces to the squares we mentioned earlier. making his position easy to play.
as explained earlier.
this is the best variation. retreating our bishop to the g3 square and hoping that our opponent doubles our h pawns for an attack. We can also choose to take the black Bishop (which is not recommended, only under specific circumstances!), we can play 7.g3 or ignore the last move of our opponent and develop other pieces (we can also take the c5 pawn and "force the black Bishop to capture the pawn")!
since this is a critical decision every London player has to make in his games I would like to introduce another option that I play often.
although this breaks our pawn center and doubles our f pawns it has lots of benefits too.
our d4 and f4 pawns are restricting our opponent from playing e5. additionally, the f4 pawn could be moved to f5 with the support of the queen and the bishop and create a difficult decision- to take or not to take. putting our pawns on the dark squares makes our light squared bishop happy, since it doesn't have to contend with our pawns!.
7.dxc5, Bxc5 8. O-O, O-O 9.Nbd2 Look at blacks Bishops, both of them are without any great scope. the light-squared bishop looks at the e pawn and the dark-squared bishop looks at the e3 pawn and at our strong dark-squared color complex. Our Bishops are nice and control important diagonals and if black were to trade his dark-squared Bishop, again, we would be happy to do so.
I believe that by now we covered the basics of the London system. I want to give you some practice in this opening. let's show you a tactic that happened in real London system games.
here we can see our famous London bishop and the signature pawn on c3. the knight is developed to f3 and our queen got the chance to impact the attack, standing on h6.
what is the tactic?
the answer is bxg6,hxg6, and qxg6 and we have a better position.
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