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  1. 24 Feb '10 09:59 / 3 edits
    Ok, so in some ways, this is not a very good/exciting game.
    In other ways it provides an excellent opportunity for me to promote the London System to any newer players looking to find an opening they're comfortable, that won't require so much extensive study of opening theory, allowing for more time to focus on the middle and end-game aspects of the game. i have no idea what my opponent is rated, only provisionally rated 1200. Again, while unexciting, the themes are all clearly visible, and whites goals in this game are constant in most all London System games (excluding a King's Indian setup). Without further adeu, my feeble attempt at game analysis.

    1. d4 d5

    The endless debate: 1. d4 or 1. e4? There is never going to be a clear answer to this, although apparently most computer programs favor 1. d4 slightly because the moved pawn is not immediately undefended as in 1. e4 lines. This is just a technical formality, however, as it all depends on the players' tastes. I was always a 1. e4 player, and then while asking a master for advice on an opening without much theory, he gave me a book cowritten by GM Kovacevik entitled Winning with the London System. A fantastic book, which I recommend to all London practitioners, both new and seasoned. As for black's response 1. ... d5, this is simply the most popular reply to 1. d4, followed by 1. ... Nf6 and 1. ... e6 in respective order. In actuality, for the London player, this is what white wants to see, as it creates a knight outpost on e5, which we will see later.

    2. Bf4 Nc6

    The Bf4 move is the main characteristic of the London System. White aggressively attacks e5, but creates a weakness at b2, which in many lines white will have to deal with. Black's move, while not incorrect, is also one that brings a smile to the face of the London System player with the white pieces. Essentially, black has decided to develop his knight, but in doing so he has temporarily blocked the c-pawn. Usually, black wants to play his pawn to c5 before Nc6, so that he has a pawn with which he can try to pry open the center at d4. Black is still in book, but this is what white would rather see than a King's Indian setup (a setup which had rendered the London obsolete in GM play until Boris Spassky revitalized it by winning in astonishing fashion against the King's Indian by trading a knight for three pawns and using the Bishop's presence on the h2-b8 diagonal to blast apart black's queenside).

    3. Nf3 Nf6
    4. e3 e6

    The knight moves are pretty much standard development. I have played few (if any, come to think of it) London System games in which the knights don't end up on f3 and f6 early. White aims his for e5, while black's has slightly more versatility. The black knight can (and often does) retreat to d7 to contest the e5 square. It may also advance to e4, or go to h6 to harrass the white bishop on f4. As we see later, however, white should not be concerned with the threat of trading on f4. The pawn move for white is equally standard (ahh, the simplistic beauty of playing a system... same moves every time!) White supports d4 and frees his bishop to make its home on d3. Black will choose to put his f8 bishop on either e7 or d6 (I run into Bd6 more than Be7, though apparently they are both playable). To be continued...
  2. 24 Feb '10 10:06
    Then what? I await part 2 Sir
  3. 24 Feb '10 10:39
    5. c3 Be7

    With 5. c3, white accomplishes a few things. First and foremost, he completely solidifies his grip on d4. With black's c-pawn blocked, and no chance of an e6-e5 break anytime soon, white's pawn structure is both solid and flexible. White can attack the queenside if need by by means of supporting a c3-c4 push. This game illustrates the kingside attacking themes and capabilities of the London, which we will see later. Be7, as mentioned earlier, is less popular than Bd6, but its still a good choice. Usually, after Be7, black will continue with Nh5 and try to trade off for the f4 bishop. this doesn't bother me as much as it does some other London players, simply because it places another pawn in support of the pivotal e5 square, as well as throws another piece (even though it's only a pawn!) into the fray on the kingside. Black is also cleared for kingside castling, yet an important point made by Kovacevik in his book is that black does not want to castle to the kingside too early, as this allows white to shift all focus to the kingside, instead of having to guess where the black monarch will make his home.

    6. Bd3 0-0?

    Another "automatic" move for white is Bd3. The white light-squared bishop will either o to d3 or e2. Here's a (probably incorrect) rule of thumb that I use. If black goes with a King's Indian setup (with pawn at d6 instead of d5) or if black plays his bishop to f5, the bishop goes to e2. All other times, Bd3. While technically 6. ... 0-0 does not deserve a (?), I give it one anyway. This move is common among lower rated players living off the "castle early" "rule" they were taught while learning chess. However, particularly with the London, early kingside castling somewhat tips blacks hand to white, and as mentioned before, white will now hone in on the king's position. Everything to this point has been book, however here black grants white an advantage.

    7. Nbd2 h6?

    Immediately after the ill-timed castling, white shifts his last undeveloped piece closer to the kingside. No matter what line or setup, white will enjoy smoothe and rapid development with comparison to his opponent. 7. ... h6 is another mistake common among beginners (and it's not just with this opening, younger players tend to think moving the king's rook's pawn forward one square is helping their king's position by not allowing a knight or bishop to king's knight, fourth rank). To the contrary, this weakens the king's protective pawn structure. Also, it is a waste of a move that could otherwise be used to catch black up in development. this will have to wait, however, and before black can even think about mobilizing his pieces, white is thrashing black's kingside to bits.

    8. Ne5 Nxe5
    9. dxe5 Nd7?!

    8. Ne5 is a move white has theoretically been planning since black played 1. ...d5 Black appears to play Nxe5 for a couple of reasons. First, it eliminates a very well placed knight for a very poorly placed knight. However, with white's next move, 9. dxe5, he has somewhat flipped the tables by forcing the f6 knight to a bad square (either d7 or h7. I gave it the ?! because I was not sure. A knight on h7 is pretty weak, but it may be a better defender than the d7 knight, simply because it would have been closer to where the action is taking place. I'll need a better chess player than myself to let the forum know if Nh7 is better).

    To be continued...
  4. 24 Feb '10 10:54
    10. Qf3 Bg5?

    With his tenth move, white begins part one of a Qf3-h3 maneuver common to these types of London positions in which all of the action is on the kingside. Thus, all of white's pieces have been coordinated into a final assault on the black king. Note how all of white's pieces are in position, while black's bishop sits useless on c8, and black's knight is completely shut off from the kingside. Black offers his last defending piece in what appears to be frantic desperation: it seems that black wants to trade off any pieces he can hoping to reduce the potential of white's attack and thus transitioning to an endgame where black would hope for better chances than what he is looking at now. However, white is unafraid! to the contrary, white will use this extra tempo to...

    11. Qh3 Bxf4
    12. exf4

    ... finish off his queen maneuver! The exchange, as mentioned earlier, moves a pawn to the defense of e5. Now that e6 is blocked, the c8 bishop is going nowhere anytime soon. So, black tries to get some breathing room on the queenside.

    12. ... b6

    Here, black is trying to find a place for his bad c8 bishop. Possibly with ideas of a5, Ba6. In any case, there is no time for queenside expansion at this point. Now, even ...c5 is useless, as there is no d4 pawn to bite down on now! A c5 pawn would figuratively be left grabbing at air.

    To be continued...
  5. 24 Feb '10 11:16
    13. Nf3 Nc5

    White moves the last piece into the attack. Please pause to just look at the position... Black is doomed! none of his pieces are in any position to defend against white's fully developed pieces. Black's knight is still stuck on the queenside, and white doesn't really care about the threat on the bishop, as the bishop simply retreats along the b1-h7 diagonal, it's usefullness and its safety but in tact.

    14. Bc2 Bb7

    White's bishop is safe for good, and black has finally (on move 14) gotten his bishop to a superior square to its starting place. Unfortunately for black, this development is too little too late. After all of these preparations, all of the development, all the blocking of black's development, white is finally ready for the ensuing...

    15. g4 Qe7

    Pawn Storm! The rest is history. Sure there is better defense than the actual continuation, but with good play from white, this is a won position. In several cases, I will end up bringing the rook from h1 to g1 just for the added "firepower".

    16. g5 hxg5
    17. Qh7#

    Boring, I know, but it's the concepts that this game illustrates that made me want to take note of it. Rapid development, a solid pawn structure, control of the e5 square (in this game the importance of the e5 square revealed itself through black's c8 bishop having nowhere to go for much of the game). To the player who decides to pick up the London, familiarize yourself with the Qf3-h3 maneuver, as you'll be doing it a LOT against 1. ... d5 setups followed by an early ...0-0. My most valuable suggestion, however, would have to be to buy steal or borrow Win With the London System by GM Kovacevik. It is full of useful information (and loads of diagrams!) for the aspiring London player. It includes Boris Spassky's famous revitalization of the London System, and a bunch of very interesting ideas about all sorts of positions Black may throw at you, from a King's Indian set-up to a Dutch Defense setup. Anyway, I hope the criticism is kept to the minimum. Obviously there's going to be lines that I missed (I'm still human, you know). Who knows? maybe black did have a suitable defense. However based on my experience with the London, after 11. ... Bxf4, it's pretty much over for black.
  6. 24 Feb '10 11:17
    Originally posted by Big Orange Country
    The endless debate: 1. d4 or 1. e4?
    1. f4
  7. 24 Feb '10 11:22
    Originally posted by Tiwaking
    1. f4
    An hour and a half of typing analysis,
    just to have move one refuted.
    As Charlie Brown would say:
    "good grief!"
  8. 24 Feb '10 11:28
    And as a last factoid with which i hope to preserve some credibility for both my opponent and myself, we were blitzing pretty fast for no apparent reason at all.
    it was a 10 minute game with 5 second increases. After checkmate, i had 10:07 on the clock, and my opponent was still over 9 minutes. there, that's it. It's 6:30 am, I'm going to bed. Hope to wake up to see any comments or corrections. Take it easy all!
  9. 24 Feb '10 12:40
    I like the typicalness of this game it seems practical since it looks like this is likely to occur in a semi large percentage of games.
  10. 24 Feb '10 12:55
    Originally posted by Tiwaking
    1. f4
    There is no debate. 1.e4!

    The only players who want to debate it are 1.d4 players.

    In blitz when I'm going for the Alpin gambit 1.d4 d5 c4 e5 when I meet
    2.Bf4 I've been playing 2...e5 the very move 2.Bf4 is meant to prevent.

    I don't believe it, but it's fun.

    This is from memory in a 4/0 game. I recall it cos White caught me a beauty
    with a nice double take trick which is worth seeing.
    I had to take on e5 with the g6 Knight first. But I'm losing.

    Then of course he got a wee bit greedy, he relaxed, got sloppy and greenpawn struck gold.

    (My Queen did not go to d7 to protect the Rook, it went there to hit g4+.
    Ties in with another thread about attackers making mistakes and getting
    away with it. Defenders, one slip.....doom)

    Have to admit I've lost more than I've won. (about 60/40).

    But the wins stick in the mind and they must rankle because next comes
    the PM's demanding a re-match. 'No' or if I do I play 1....Nf6!

  11. 24 Feb '10 14:45
    Openings in chess are, as in life, what you make of them and I've known people who play even 1.e4 e5 in the most impossibly dull manner. But for those who think the London System is the cureall for chess openings, can I point out that the two individuals in the following game set off that morning for the Hawick sports centre determined to go all out - then White played the London system...

    [Event "Scottish Open"]
    [Site "Hawick"]
    [Date "1995.??.??"]
    [White "Waldteufel,R "]
    [Black "King,J "]
    [Result "1/2-1/2"]
    [ECO "D02"]
    [Round "4"]

    1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4 c6 4. c3 Bf5 5. e3 Qb6 6. Qb3 e6 7. Nbd2 Nbd7
    8. h3 h6 9. Ne5 Nxe5 10. Bxe5 Be7 11. Be2 O-O 12. O-O Nd7 13. Bh2 Bg6 14. Rfd1 Rfe8 15. Rac1 Bf6 16. Nf3 Rac8 17. c4 Be7 18. Ne5 Nxe5 19. Bxe5 Qxb3 1/2-1/2

    I was present at the game - it was NOT a pre-arranged draw but an attempt at fighting chess.
  12. 24 Feb '10 16:31 / 1 edit
    Good Game Baillie.

    The London System in all it's glory.

  13. 24 Feb '10 22:16
    Originally posted by National Master Dale
    I like the typicalness of this game it seems practical since it looks like this is likely to occur in a semi large percentage of games.
    That was what struck me about the game.
    even though it was not perticularly exciting,
    it did encompass just about every single theme presented by Kovacevik in his book. No spectacular finish, no brilliancy prizes (I don't think i gave myself a single (!)). It's just a normal game, which makes it easier to break down and be understood by the observer.
  14. 24 Feb '10 23:10 / 1 edit
    Hi Big O

    This one will bring out a smile.

    A Taylor v T Burgess, wdcl div 3 Halesowen v Bushbury 2005

    What can you learn from 9 moves?

    Well it's not the London Bishop that gives the mate, it's the other one.
    The Brighton Bishop. But the two work together well.

    Black was too stubborn with his London Bishop and failed to swap it.

    If White had the same stubborn streak he would have retreated his London
    Bishop to g3 and they may still be playing.

    Also shows just how weakening those h3 aand h6's can be.

  15. 24 Feb '10 23:21 / 1 edit
    Not that it matters or means anything, but where are you getting this: "apparently most computer programs favor 1. d4 slightly because the moved pawn is not immediately undefended as in 1. e4 lines." There isn't a SINGLE major engine I know about that prefers 1. d4 after lengthy analysis. Engines favor quick development and naturally tend towards 1. e4. Although, with odd results sometimes. I remember leaving Rybka 3-MP analyzing the first move for about 100 hours and it came up with 1. e4 e6. 1. e4 is also the most popular and highest scoring move in engine books for the same reason. Engines are better at evaluating 1. e4 posititions in general. However, even at the top level human chess (filter a database to 2600+) 1. e4 scores a bit better than 1. d4. I think it's as you say, a matter of philosophy and preference. 1. e4 tries to go for the throat while 1. d4 tries to grind Black down (not to say that there can't be games of either character after each move).