Win with the London System

After getting beat up badly by the london a few years ago, I got a copy of “Winning with the London” and started using it occasionally myself in blitz games. I have found that there are a few thematic ideas, but that the london is much more of an “ideas” opening than anything else, and ultimately is a great “patzer basher” because it allows for white to just quickly develop and go for an immediate kingside attack without taking much risk. The following game is a nice example of the theme of a quick kingside attack. Naturally, black had several moves which could have defended valiantly, but luckily these were not found in the five minute game.

One theme that comes up often in the London is that Black will develop his dark square bishop to d6, seeking to exchange off white’s annoyingly placed dark squared bishop on f4. I like to deny black this exchange by throwing my knight into the e5 pocket. This is a nice provocative move, and many times I have won easily after black played Nbd7, and then c6 (leaving the bishop loose) as in the following diagram.

Here, the simple Nxf7! is available, since Black has left his bishop loose after playing both c6 and Nbd7 cutting off communication with the queen. This is perhaps one of the simplest visuals that clearly demonstrates the value of prophylaxis and making sure that all of your pieces are protected, as the good Dr. Nunn tells us, Loose Pieces Drop Off. This simple tactic has won me countless blitz games, and is worth noting for anyone who is going to take up this opening with white.

Another, bolder idea behind having the knight on e5, is that from that perch it holds the g4 square, so for the truly psycho attacker, the pawn push g4,g5 is now playable. I have also used this in blitz games, though I usually only play it if i can quickly bring my queen to the kingside of the board to either support the pawns or threaten a dozen nasty tactics. This theme is also common in the “stonewall attack,” which is a cousin of the london system, along with the colle and the Torre attack. Here is a fantastic article by Yaacov Norowitz on his pet line in the Stonewall at our favorite blog the Kenilworthian.

Another idea which is often useful in the London, is simply putting the rook on e1, and then powering the e pawn forward. This crude approach can sometimes be devastating though against a weaker player who does not realize that the pawn must be captured, as after it reaches e5, kicking the knight, the classic Bxh7 greek gift theme is imminent.

The following game demonstrates nicely some simple london themes, and ideas for quickly bringing the queen to the kingside of the board just to see what happens…I like this in blitz, as it is simple, straightforward, and often tactics just pleasantly become available.

The book is essentially a collection of thematic games with good attacking ideas for white, followed by basic plans for white against black’s most common responses, such as the King’s indian defense, nizmo set up, or grunfeld. I highly recommend the book, it’s a fun read and full of interesting little tactical flourishes on the kingside of the board. It could just as easily be titled “fun simple attacks that play themselves.”