This is the ultimate guide to London System Chess Opening.
In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know to play London System Chess Opening confidently.
Mainline theory, traps, middlegame ideas, types of London System Opening and much more is covered in this guide.
London System is an Opening that is characterized by moves 1.d4 and 2.Bf4 or 1.d4 2.Nf3 and 3.Bf4
This opening is known for its solidity.
Video of London system - 22 mins
First Move order is 1.d4 2.Bf4
Second move order is 1.d4 2.Nf3 3.Bf4
What is main idea of London system?
Main idea of this opening is to create an UNBREAKABLE pawn structure in the center and simply develop your pieces on active squares.
This is the famous TRIANGLE center of this opening.
d4 pawn is supported by c3 and e3 pawn which makes it super solid.
Where do you put your pieces?
Most of the times, your pieces will go on predefined squares.
Dark squared bishop will go to f4.
Light squared bishop will go to d3.
g1 Knight will go to f3.
b1 Knight will go to d2.
Why is it called London System?
This opening was played by top players like Akiba Rubinstein in an international tournament which was held in central hall, West minster from July 31 to august 19, 1922 which would later to be known as 1922 London Tournament.
That’s why it became popular as London System. Today it is one of the most popular chess openings for white.
Is London system good for beginners?
Yes, London System is good chess Openings for beginners.
White usually puts his pawns and pieces on the same squares in this opening which makes it easier to learn especially for beginners.
Not only it is good for beginners but it is played by top grandmasters regularly, so you can play this opening at advanced level also.
London System chess Opening moves Step by Step
Let’s look at the initial opening moves of this opening for white step by step.
White starts by 1.d4 pushing his pawn to d4. It controls the e5 square and opens the diagonal for the dark squared bishop.
2. Bf4 White puts the “London bishop” on f4. White would like to play e3 so it is important to get this dark squared bishop out of the pawn chain where it will be more active.
3.e3 opens the diagonal for the light squared bishop. Mostly light squared bishop goes to d3 and sometimes it also goes to b5.
5.Bd3 This is ideal square for the bishop, keeping an “eye” on h7. It may prove useful in middle game when we attack black’s king.
6.Nf3 White gets ready to castle on the kingside.
7.Nbd2 White develops the last minor piece, this knight usually goes to f3 once f3 knight goes to e5.
8.0-0 White moves the king to safety and is now ready for the middle game.
9.h3 White plays this little move to protect the dark square bishop from getting attack by …Nh5 move as white can now put his bishop on h2.
Best part about playing the London System Chess Opening is that you can use this setup in response to black’s most moves.
There are two popular terms related to this opening.
1. Accelerated London System
2. Jobava London System
What is Accelerated London System?
Accelerated London System is the modern version of this opening where you develop your dark squared bishop to f4 on move number 2.
In early days of this opening, players used to first develop the g1 knight to f3 on move number 2 and then develop dark squared bishop to f4 on move number 3.
This is also called old mainline.
1.d4 2.Nf3 and then 3.Bf4 is the old mainline.
In old main line, you first develop your knight to f3 and then develop your “London Bishop” to f4.
Over the time, players found that in some variations it is better to delay the development of g1 knight, So they started developing the bishop to f4 on move number 2.
This way of playing is called accelerated London System because development of “London bishop” is accelerated by one move.
1.d4 and 2.Bf4 is called accelerated System.
This is the modern way of playing this opening.
London system vs accelerated London system: Which is better?
Accelerated System is better than old London System because delaying the development of g1 knight gives you more flexibility in some variations.
What is Jobava London System?
Jobava London System is the variation where white puts the knight on c3 instead of the pawn.
3.Nc3 is the hallmark move of Jobava System. Instead of creating triangle center, white develops queenside knight and gets ready for Qd2 and 0-0-0.
This opening was made popular by Grandmaster Baadur Jobava who played this opening numerous times against strong opponent with successful results.
Should i play accelerated london system or Jobava london system?
Although you can play Jobava system against any of black’s setup but it is especially effective against black’s g6 setups.
When black plays g6 setups then Jobava System is particularly effective because your plan is simple and easy to implement:
When black takes on h5 with knight, you sacrifice your rook for the knight.
Castle long side and attack on black’s king.
Let’s look at this plan step by step
After 3.Nc3, black usually plays d5 to stop you to play e4.
4.e3 opens the diagonal for the bishop and the queen.
5. h4 is our idea. We want to open the h-file and attack on the h-file.
Now black king is committed on g8, you want to open the h-file and start the attack.
7.Rxh5!! This powerful exchange sacrifice allows you to destroy black’s king defense and organize a strong attack.
8.Qxh5 Your queen is already on the attacking position and now you develop your piece rapidly to bring them into the attack.
Your attack is simple:
Bishop goes to d3,Knight goes to f3, king castles long and rook comes to h1. Every piece participates in the attack. These moves leads to good position.
London System Traps
Let’s look at some of the common traps of London System Chess Opening.
Trap 1 : Bishop sacrifice
I have seen many strong players who have become victim of this trap.
First, you develop your pieces in typical London formation.
1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5 5.c3 Nc6 6.Nd2 Bd6 7.Bg3 0-0 8.Ngf3
and we have reached the position in the diagram. As you can see, white has developed his pieces in typical “London Formation”.
Black played 8…Qe7 to break the center with e5.
White cannot allow this so we play…
9.Ne5 our move puts an end to black’s plan.
Black challenges our strong e5 knight with 9…Nfd7
Notice that with 9…Nfd7 black has removed the protection of h7 square and that’s where we are going to strike.
10.Nxd7 white starts exchanging pieces with a dangerous plan in mind.
10…Bxd7 black develops his bishop.
11.Bxd6 white exchanges one more piece.
Black plays 11…Qxd6
12.dxc5 White did all these exchanges to bring black’s queen to c5 square.
Now white makes a shocking sacrifice!!
White sacrifices his bishop and black is already lost. Now black’s king becomes the direct target of white’s attack.
After 13…Kxh7 White plays…
14.Qh5+ white brings the queen in the attack.
15.Ne4 !! You bring your knight into the attack.
Black cannot capture the knight because of the pin on the 5th rank.
15…dxe4 is a bad move because of 15.Qxc5 winning the black’s queen.
16.Ng5 white’s knight joins the queen and attacks on the h7 square.
17.Qh7+ white’s queen comes closer to black’s king and gets ready to checkmate him.
17…Kf8 is the only option for black’s king.
Trap 2: Bishop trap
I have fallen in this trap from white side in my game.
After 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 black playes 2…h5.
This is a tricky move. Black’s idea is to trap white’s f4 bishop by playing …g5 and …h4.
3. e3 this natural move is a mistake. It is better to play 3.Nf3.
3…e5! This is the reason why 3.e3 is a mistake.
Black sacrifices a pawn to open the diagonal for the queen and now ready to play …g5.
4. Bxe5 white takes the pawn.
4…f6! attacking the bishop.
if white plays 4.dxe5 black would have played …g5 and …h4 trapping the bishop.
5. Bf4 white simply protects his bishop.
5…g5! This is the idea behind black’s play, Now in the next move black will push his pawn to h4 and trap white’s bishop.
6. Bg3 white moves the bishop to the safe square.
6…h4 and now white’s bishop is trapped.
London System is a Good Opening especially for beginners. You don’t need to memorize a lot of lines and you can use it against strong opponents also. This opening is easy to learn and you get a solid position in the opening.