The London System is a flexible chess opening which White can use against virtually any of Black’s setups. This makes it the perfect choice for players who prefer to understand key strategic and tactical ideas instead of having to memorize an endless number of theoretical variations.
Each opening has its own unique tactical patterns. Patterns you need to know to succeed. IM Eric Rosen’s course on the essential tactics in the London System gives you a complete understanding of the typical patterns for both sides. Even if you only play against the London System, knowledge of these resources will prove invaluable.
The London System is a chess opening for White which occurs after the moves 1.d4 & 2.Bf4 or 2.Nf3 and 3.Bf4. The London System was put into the public eye in a tournament in London in 1922.
Unlike the Colle System, White develops his dark-squared bishop outside the pawn chain. White’s next few moves depend on the setup that Black chooses. Usually, White plays 1.d4, 2.Bf4 and either 3.e3 or 3.Nf3. White ends up with a strong pawn on d4, well protected by e3, without blocking in the dark-squared bishop. This gives him harmonious development and no real targets for Black.
For many years, a very classical way to play the London System was to play slow thematic moves like Nf3, e3, c3, h3, Bd3 or Be2 and 0-0. However, the move order with 2.Bf4 allows more options such as 3.Nc3 against Black’s King’s Indian setup, going for immediate center expansion with e2-e4. For this reason, according to theory, the move 2.Bf4 is considered to be more accurate than 2.Nf3 as it leaves White with more options against Black’s various setups.
One of the most attractive attributes of the London System is that you can play it against nearly any of Black’s setups – massively reducing the amount of time spent studying openings.
Lessons in the London System
Although the London System has a reputation to be safe and solid for White, you need to be careful with the move order against some of Black’s setups. White should avoid playing the first few moves on autopilot. If you play the London System regularly, opponents may recognize if you play an inaccurate move-order to reach the London setup.
Black, however, also has to be careful when facing the London System. Thanks to the latest theoretical developments, the London System definitely carries some theoretical bite in many lines. It is a common occurrence that club players try to develop naturally against the London System and end up falling victim to a devastating attack or simply find themselves in a strategically lost position.
In the lines where Black plays with …d5 and …Bd6, opting to neutralize White’s dark-squared bishop on f4, White is usually well advised to drop the bishop back to g3. If Black wants to exchange the dark-squared bishops now, he has to take on g3 and White can take back with his h-pawn. This structure often enables White to create threats along the half-open h-file – especially when Black already castled kingside.
In the London System, White usually develops his light-squared bishop to d3 or e2. However, there are some new ideas for White to sometimes develop the bishop to b5. The idea behind this move is to exchange the bishop for Black’s knight on c6, doubling Black’s pawns on the c-file. Afterward, White attack these pawns with the maneuver Qd1-a4-e3 and Nd2-b3 (see the diagram on the left).
In the positions where Black builds up with an early …g6 and …d5, White often has ideas to go for a quick kingside attack with h2-h4-h5. These lines are an excellent illustration that the London System does not necessarily lead to dry, boring play (as it is considered by many chess players) but can also turn out to be a strong attacking opening.
A common middlegame idea for White is to open the center with the move e3-e4. Once the center opens up, White is often better prepared for the resulting tactics. Remember: Even (or especially) in an apparently calm opening like the London System, it is key to try to seize the initiative early on. Once White completed his development, he often has to try to open the center.
These are just some of the ideas that IM Eric Rosen covers in the video – be sure to watch the whole thing for an overview of his course, as well as a look at how Magnus Carlsen plays the London System.
80/20 Tactics Multiplier – The London System
If you only learn ONE opening for White… make it the London System. It’s extremely flexible. It gives you powerful middlegame positions. And it’s highly potent against any move Black might respond with. Ask Carlsen, Kramnik or Grischuk – they have all used it to win important games! IM Eric Rosen’s brilliant new 80/20 Tactics: The London System is an8 hour course that helps you really master this opening by understanding the typical tactics, attacks and patterns. If you want to improve your tactics and learn a powerful, ultra-flexible opening, click here to get instant access with 35% off.