London System

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London System
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8
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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
d4 white pawn
f4 white bishop
e3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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The Modern London setup
Movesd4, Nf3, Bf4
ECOD02, A46, A48
Originby James Mason
Named after1922 London tournament
ParentQueen's Pawn Game
Synonym(s)Mason Variation

The London System, is an opening system in chess that can be used against virtually any black defense and thus comprises a smaller body of opening theory than many other openings. Also known as the "Mason Variation," it is a line in the Queen's Pawn Game where White opens with 1. d4, but does not play the Queen's Gambit, instead opting to rapidly develop the dark squared bishop. This will often result in a closed game. Because of its solid reputation, the London System has faced criticism for its lack of dynamic play.

The rapid development of the dark squared bishop in the London System may be contrasted to the Colle System - another popular Queen's Pawn Game - in which the queen's bishop often remains on c1 during the opening phase of the game.

Origin[edit]

British player James Mason was the first well-known proponent of the London system. His contemporaries include Johannes Zukertort, Adolf Anderssen, and William Steinitz.[1] The London System came to prominence in an international tournament held in Central Hall, Westminster from July 31 to August 19, 1922, which would later be known as the 1922 London tournament.

Invitations were sent to Capablanca, Alekhine, Rubinstein, Bogoljubov, Reti, Tartakover, Vidmar, Euwe, Borislav Kostic and Frank Marshall, but the last two had problems with their travelling expenses and were unable to accept. The current British Champion and the Champions of Australia and Canada were also invited... Many games played in this tourney would later grace the best games collections of a number of players.[2]

— chessgames.com
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8
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a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
f8 black rook
g8 black king
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black knight
e7 black bishop
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e6 black pawn
f6 black knight
d5 black pawn
g5 white bishop
c4 white pawn
d4 white pawn
c3 white knight
e3 white pawn
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white queen
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
h1 white rook
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The Rubinstein Variation was popular during the 1922 London Tournament

The London System came into fashion as a way of countering the Orthodox Queen's Gambit Declined and the hypermodern setups that began rising in popularity during the 1920's, such as the King's Indian Defense.[citation needed] Many of the games in the 1922 London Tournament featured the Queen's Indian Defense, Rubinstein Variation, where white plays Bg5 to pin the knight, Nc3 and c4, arguably overextending pieces too early in the game. Later on in the tournament, players began playing Bf4 and c3. The line gives White a solid position, and critics of the line referred to it as the "old man’s variation" or the "boring system".[3] Even so, the opening can lead to sharp attacks. Vlatko Kovačević and David Bronstein are among the sharp tactical players who have played the London System.[4]

Sverre Johnsen and Vlatko Kovačević, in the introduction to their 2005 book Win with the London System, state:

Essentially, the London is a set of solid lines where after 1.d4 White quickly develops their dark-squared bishop to f4 and normally bolsters their centre with [pawns on] c3 and e3 rather than expanding. Although it has the potential for a quick kingside attack, the white forces are generally flexible enough to engage in a battle anywhere on the board. Historically it developed into a system mainly from three variations:

Principles[edit]

White should ideally develop their knights to f3 and d2, bishops to f4 and d3, and solidify the position with pawns d4, e3, c3.

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8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
d4 white pawn
f4 white bishop
c3 white pawn
d3 white bishop
e3 white pawn
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
d2 white knight
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
d1 white queen
e1 white king
h1 white rook
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Ideal London setup for White

Variations[edit]

Classical line[edit]

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8
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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
d5 black pawn
d4 white pawn
f4 white bishop
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
h1 white rook
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The Classical London, 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4

Traditionally, the London System is played 1.d4 2.Nf3, bringing out the knight first and delaying the development of the bishop. In essence, 2.Nf3 develops the king's knight to a natural square while also waiting to see how Black will react. This grants white flexibility to potentially transpose into other openings, including the Queen's Gambit with 3.c4, or the Colle System with 3.e3. However, modern play has often stressed the immediate 2. Bf4, which will force black to play the London System.

Black has many options here; 3...c5, challenging the center 3...e6, solidifying, but blocking the light squared bishop 3...Bf5, developing a piece 3...c6 solidifying, 3...g6, preparing to fianchetto kingside 3...b6, preparing to fianchetto queenside 3...Nc6, pressuring the d4 square

The Modern London[edit]

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8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
d5 black pawn
d4 white pawn
f4 white bishop
e3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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The Modern London, 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Instead of developing 2.Nf3, White can opt to immediately play 2.Bf4. Much like the Bishop's opening, White develops the bishop before the knight, ignoring the opening principle of "knights before bishops".[5]

Rapport-Jobava System[edit]

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8
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a8 black rook
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black knight
f6 black knight
d5 black pawn
f5 black bishop
d4 white pawn
f4 white bishop
c3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white queen
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
c1 white king
d1 white rook
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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The Rapport-Jobava London, 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d5 3.e3 c5 4.Nc3 cxd4 5.exd4 Nc6 6.Qd2 Bf5 7.O-O-O

Named after chess grandmasters Richárd Rapport and Baadur Jobava, this system can be a surprise against black, who will expect typical development and may have overinvested in an attack on the kingside

1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bf4 This position can also be reached via 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4. Black usually plays either 3...c5, 3...e6, 3...Bf5, 3...c6, 3...g6, 3...Nc6, or 3...a6.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4[edit]

Black usually plays either 3...b6, 3...c5, or 3...d5, transposing above.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4[edit]

Play often goes 3...Bg7 4.e3 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.0-0. As is usual in the King's Indian, Black can strike in the centre with ...c5 or ...e5. After 6...c5 7.c3, Black often plays either 7...b6, 7...Qb6, 7...Nc6, 7...Be6, or 7...cxd4. Black can prepare ...e5 in a number of ways, usually starting with either 6...Nbd7, 6...Nc6, or 6...Nfd7.

Afterwards, if unimpeded by Black's moves, White ideally would like to build a pyramid of pawns centered on d4 and develop all minor pieces.[6][7][8] This could be achieved in various orders, for example, 1.d4, 2.Bf4, 3.Nf3, 4.e3, 5.c3, 6.Nbd2, 7.Bd3.

Example games[edit]

  • Gata Kamsky vs. Samuel Shankland, Sturbridge, MA 2014:
    1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d5 3.e3 e6 4.Nd2 c5 5.c3 Nc6 6.Ngf3 Bd6 7.Bg3 0-0 8.Bd3 Qe7 9.Ne5 Nd7 10.Nxd7! Bxd7 11.Bxd6 Qxd6 12.dxc5 Qxc5? 13.Bxh7+!! Kxh7 14.Qh5+ Kg8 15.Ne4 Qc4 16.Ng5 Rfd8 17.Qxf7+ Kh8 18.Qh5+ Kg8 19.Rd1! e5 20.Qf7+ Kh8 21.e4 Ne7 22.Qxe7 Bb5 23.Rd2 Qxa2 24.Qf7 Qa1+ 25.Rd1 Qxb2 26.Qh5+ Kg8 27.Qh7+ Kf8 28.Qh8+ Ke7 29.Qxg7+ Kd6 30.Rxd5+ Kc6 31.Qf6+ 1–0[9]
  • Magnus Carlsen vs. Evgeny Tomashevsky, Wijk aan Zee NED 2016:
    1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 b6 4.e3 Bb7 5.h3 Be7 6.Bd3 0-0 7.0-0 c5 8.c3 Nc6 9.Nbd2 d5 10.Qe2 Bd6 11.Rfe1!? Ne7?! 12.Rad1 Ng6?! 13.Bxg6! hxg6 14.Bxd6! Qxd6 15.Ne5 g5 16.f4!! gxf4 17.Rf1! Nd7! 18.Qh5! Nf6?! 19.Qh4! Qd8 20.Rxf4 Ne4? 21.Nxe4 Qxh4 22.Rxh4 dxe4 23.dxc5 bxc5 24.Rd7! Rab8 25.b3! a5 26.Rc7 a4 27.bxa4 Ba8 28.a5 Rb7 29.Rxc5 Ra7 30.Nc4 1–0 (Black resigns)[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "James Mason and the London System". 20 February 2019.
  2. ^ "London (1922)".
  3. ^ Donaldson, John. "London System (review of Win With the London System)". jeremysilman.com. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
  4. ^ Marsh, Sean (13 July 2008). "Colle, Torre, and London System". Chessbase. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
  5. ^ Sedlak, Nikola (2016). Winning with the modern London system : a complete opening repertoire for white against 1. d4 d5. ISBN 978-83-944290-9-6. OCLC 959223179.
  6. ^ Williams, Simon (Feb 2020). "London System for the Busy Chess Player". Chess.com. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  7. ^ Rosen, Eric (Dec 12, 2017). "Beat Good Players with the London | Games to Know by Heart - IM Eric Rosen". YouTube. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  8. ^ "Magnus Carlsen vs. Evgeny Tomashevsky (2016)". Chessgames.com. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  9. ^ "Gata Kamsky vs. Samuel Shankland (2014)". Chessgames.com.
  10. ^ "Magnus Carlsen vs. Evgeny Tomashevsky (2016)". Chessgames.com.

Further reading[edit]