The London System chess opening is potent and versatile, one you can use successfully against even the solid Queen’s Indian Defense.
Playing a system-based opening will reduce your opening theory workload.
Another advantage is it also takes booked-up opening experts out of the mainlines. It is crucial to get your opponents into unfamiliar territory instead of playing into their favorite Indian Defense setup.
Here is GM Ron W. Henley showing you how powerful the London System can be against the Queen’s Indian Defense. Be sure to make a note of how you can embarrass the black queen after …Qxb2. You don’t want to miss this opportunity in your games.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Playing the London System Against the Queen’s Indian Defense
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 c5 3.e3 e6 4.Nf3
There are many ways to play theopening moves. White could play d4, Nf3, Bf4, and e3.
Developing the bishop to f4 on move 2 prevents it from becoming a bad bishop. Bf4 is the characteristic move of the London System.
Black’s most active response is 4…Qb6. This move immediately takes advantage of the bishop not being on c1 to defend the b2 pawn.
Sacrificing the b2 pawn in return for active piece play and threats against c7 is white’s best strategy for an opening advantage. Fortunately, it’s an effective strategy that leads to exciting chess games.
White Develops With 5.Na3
White can develop the knight to c3 with the idea of playing Nb5, where it eyes the c7 square. Developing theto f4 early helps increase the pressure on c7.
However, if you play 5.Na3, you retain the option of Nb5 if black plays …Qxb2, and the knight can also go to the c4 square.
Of course, every chess move involves some give and take. The knight on a3 doesn’t provide white with central control.
Compensating for this is the black pieces are forced to defend the c7 square and white’s other threats.
After 4…Qb6 5.Na3, we reach the following position.
Since black has already moved the queen from the center, there is little point in declining the material on offer.
There follows 5…Qxb2 6.Nb5 Nd5
The black knight defends the crucial c7 square and attacks the white bishop on f4. Now the strongest move for white is the backward 7.Nd2.
White needn’t fear black capturing the bishop on f4 because this provides white with an eternal grip on e5 and endangers the black queen.
An essential move for white in trapping the queen is to play a3. This move prevents black from using the b4 square to escape with …Qb4 and …Qa5.
White will continue to attack the queen with moves like Rb1 driving the blackto a2. Bc4 will follow, trapping the queen on a2.
The game between Bistric and Podlesnik is an excellent example of how white should play this position.
Bistric, Faruk – Podlesnik, Bogdan, 1-0, Bled op, 1989
Black Doesn’t Capture On b2
Of course, black doesn’t have to capture on b2. An alternative way to play is to look to enter an endgame with 5…cxd4 6.Nb5 Nd5 7.Qxd4 Qxd4 8.Nfxd4.
The temptation for black to capture the bishop on f4 must be enormous. You eliminate one of white’s most influential pieces and ease the pressure on c7.
Black will either inflict doubled pawns on white or capture the bishop and force white to misplace his knight on a8.
Understanding these positions is what gives you the edge in the London System.
Please take a look at how Stocek defeated his opponent, who was rated 172 Elo higher than him. Black couldn’t resist play 8…Nxf4.
Stocek, J. – Navara, D., 1-0, ch-CZE 2017
Weak Color Complexes for Black
One of the main strategic themes in the London System chess opening for white is weak squares in black’s position.
If you wish to succeed with the London System with white, it’s essential to know how to take advantage of this weakness.
One of the most obvious signs your opponent will have weak squares is if you capture one of his bishops. Squares of the same color as the captured bishop will now prove harder for him to defend.
Pawn moves can increase the weakness of squares. For example, if Black plays h6 and has his light-squared bishop exchanged, look to exploit the g6 square and the b1-h7 diagonal.
Obviously, in positions like this, you want to keep your light-squared bishop. This bishop can apply pressure on the castled king on two diagonals – b1-h7 and a2-g8.
Make Sure the Exchanges Favor You
Be very cautious about which pieces you choose to exchange. You could end up without the pieces you need to take advantage of the weak squares.
A dark-squared bishop is not helpful when your opponent has weak light squares. Before exchanging your last knight, make sure there are no excellent outposts for you to use.
When playing the London System against the Queen’s Indian Defense, it isn’t uncommon for Black’s knights to get diverted from the kingside. As you have seen, black frequently moves the knight from f6 to d5.
Moving the knight leaves the black king without one of his mainstay defenders. Even if Black doesn’t exchange it for the bishop on f4, you still gain a vital tempo for your attack.
One of the most famous games showing how to exploit weak squares was played by the great Bobby Fischer against Boris Spassky in their world championship match in 1972.
Look at Fischer’s excellent technique in game 6 of their match.
Fischer, Bobby – Spassky, Boris, World Chess Championship Game 6, 1972, 1-0
The sheer number of different systems black has tried against the London System chess opening gives you an idea of how strong this system can be for white.
Add to this the fact it is played by thein chess today, and you can feel confident when you choose it as your first choice chess opening.
The London System is rich in tactics and, as you have seen, leads to exciting games. Even against the solid Queen’s Indian Defense.
Spend some time deepening your relationship with this opening, and you will find yourself richly rewarded with many enjoyable victories.
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