How to Play the London System – Super GM Style!
In this video, GM Damian Lemos reveals how to play the London System, a super-flexible opening that is slowly becoming a favorite with the world’s top players including Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik and, as we see here, Alexander Grischuk (peak rating 2810 Elo!)
The most attractive attribute of the London System is that you can play it against nearly anything Black responds with – massively reducing the amount of time spent studying openings.
White plays 1.d4, 2.Bf4 and either 3.e3 or 3.Nf3. We end up with a strong pawn on d4, well protected by e3, without blocking in our dark-squared bishop. This gives us harmonious development and no real targets for Black.
As you learn how to play the London System, you’ll notice you can choose the type of positions you end up in too. If you’re a sharp, tactical player, you will find there are many ways to force the game into those waters.
If you prefer a Karpov-Style positional squeeze then you’ll love the rich Queenside strategies available too.
In this video, we see Alexander Grischuk take on Wang Hao (peak rating 2752) who opts for the common – and very logical – 5…c5 and 6…Bd6 line, neutralizing our laser beam of a dark-squared bishop.
As GM Lemos points out, it’s crucial we drop the bishop back from f4 to g3 – if we have to exchange this great piece, we want some kind of compensation for it, namely an open h-file to create threats along.
Wang Hao opts to castle, allowing Grischuk to preserve the g3 bishop with 9.Ne5! and 10.f4. These moves really cement White’s central control, the knight dominating a number of key squares and restricting Black’s pieces.
GM Lemos then reveals another key idea for White in this kind of setup. After placing the other bishop on d3, Grischuk plays the odd-looking 11.Qb1! It’s clear that the Queen and bishop form a nice battery against g6 and h7 but why not place the Queen on c2?
As is explained in the video, the Queen is perfectly positioned to support a possible b-pawn advance and it doesn’t matter that the a1 rook is restricted to its original square as it, too, is well placed to support a pawn advance.
Enjoy this video and, if you want to learn more about how to play the London System, check out GM Lemos’ incredible 9 hour Deep Dive: The London System course here.