Monday, October 6, 2008

London versus Earth

When I co-authored "Win with the London System" I never suspected that it might get used as a weapon against my home planet. But according to the USCF site that's what's happening right now.

After the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 (Dia), this is the position:

I am a little curious what will be the alternatives for Earth. Black's main options are 3...c5, 3...e6, 3...c6 and 3...Bf5 but also 3...g6 is a good move, and as far as I know nobody has come up with a fully convincing reply to 3...Nh5!?.

Maybe I will be following this game?

Update October 7th
Earth's alternatives now have been published. 3...e6 and 3...c5 were not surprisingly on the list. Also 3...Bf5 is a recognized system (but one which can easily lead Black into difficulties). Only 3...Nc6 was a surprise. It's a fairly rare move with a poor score (White scores 69% in MegaBase 2008) and until recently with no leading protagonist. However, it should be noted that Bareev recently won a game against GM opposition with the move. The position after 3...Nc6 more frequently arises from the move-order 2...Nc6 3.Bf4 Nf6.


Anonymous said...

Are you & GM Kovasevic advising ? Would be a good PR stunt for you and for GAMBIT !


Sverre Johnsen said...

For the moment it's only me, and I am so far only following the developments with mild interest. I have no idea how strong a player this dr. Greg Chamitoff is. It's my impression he isn't using a computer and chances are good that the kids and the voters can handle him without any support.

For the moment I am not really trying to draw any attention to this blog. I probably will in a not too distant future when I feel the chess content is worth sharing with the chess world. But for the time being I cannot even find the time to go over my old posts and give them a minor make over.

Unknown said...

Hi Chessfriend!

You have a nice chessblog here! I like visiting it! Also following the Earth vs Space Chessgame.
I offering you a link exchange - if you accept it.

My chessblog:
Welcome to visit!

Your site - already listed on my blog as:
Chess sites I read...

Keep on the good work and looking forward for the link exchange on your site as well - if possible.

Thanks and regards,


Sverre Johnsen said...


I like your blog and will leave a message later today. Now I leave for a long lunch!

Sverre Johnsen said...


Where is that link on your page?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sverre,

Thank you for adding me on. I was checking your site link - and added you as well.

Best Regards


Anonymous said...

I have a question about the London System. I know you are an expert on it so I think you will know the answer.

In the book How to Succeed in the Queen Pawn Openings, John Watson and Eric Schiller recommend 1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 c5 3 e3 Nc6 4 c3 Nf6 5 Nd2 Qb6 6 Qb3 cxd4 7 Qxb6 axb6 8 exd4 Bf5 against the 2 Bf4 London System and they say its =. At first I was thinking this must be better for White due to the doubled pawns but Black does have the open a-file, easy development, and good coordination of the pieces. Do you think this line is better for White or equal for Black?

Sverre Johnsen said...


Relative to my general playing strength I may be a London expert. But in "Win with the London System" my primary job was to find and structure the available material and to write/improve the prose. Evaluations were mostly based on the latest version of Fritz which were checked and frequently corrected by GM Kovacevic.
Our 'conclusion' in this line was "9 Ngf3 Rc8 10 h3 e6 11 Ne5 Nxe5 12 Bxe5 Kd8 13 Bb5 Ne8 14 0-0 f6 15 Bh2 Bd6 16 Bxe8 Bxh2+ 17 Kxh2 Rxe8 18 Rfe1 = Keitlinghaus-Thesing, Bundesliga 1998/9" which still seems an honest and correct evaluation to me.

If I dare add anything to this, it must be that the position after 8...Bf5 looks roughly equal but with possibilities for the stronger player to go for a win. But that's the opinion of a relatively weak player.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I am trying to come up with a good line against the London System after 1 d4 d5 that I can teach to some of my students because there is another coach that teaches the London to all of his students. My students aren't that advanced (1000-1400) so they need something that isn't too advanced and doesn't have too much theory. This is why I was wondering about this line when I saw it recommended in How to Succeed in the Queen Pawn Openings.

Sverre Johnsen said...


I have more than 20 years of experience with coaching young players on that level, and I don't think the line under discussion is an ideal recommendation. I am quite convinced a few of them will be very reluctant to play a semi-endgame with isolated doubled b-pawns and you will have a hard time explaining why this is OK in this particular position. And then there is 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 c5 3.e4!? which can be quite tricky (you would avoid that with the move-order 2...Nf6 and 3...c5 but then White gets some additional options too).

Why not Prie's recommendation 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Nf6 3.e3 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nd2 Bf5 6.Qb3 Qd7!? This active and natural way of developing will appeal to most young players. 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Qb3 is well met with 6...c4 7.Qc2 (7.Qxb6 axb6 8.Na3 can lead to interesting play but the natural 8...Bf5 must be OK for Black) 7...Bf5 8.Qc1 e6 or 8...Nh5.

Probably the objective merits of all these lines are roughly equal - they all lead to some kind of equality - but they are not all equally suited for relative

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I have been trying to teach them the line recommended by Prie but they keep getting confused when to play ...Qb6 and when to play ...Bf5. After 5 Nf3 and 5 Bd3, 5...Qb6 is the correct move. But after 5 Nd2, it's hard for them to remember and understand why it's not 5...Qb6 and why it's 5...Bf5. That is why I was wondering about the line where you can meet 5 Nd2 with 5...Qb6.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the astronaut is doing too well against Earth...maybe more brains are better than one ?!

I reckon that 9...Ne2+ will put Black in a good position

Anonymous said...

hi! i'm playing london system sometimes - quite powerful huh!

Sverre Johnsen said...

Chess Ghost,

The London can give White an almost automatic kingside attack if Black shuts his light-squared bishop in with an early ...e6 and then castles short. There are also a lot of other lines that may give White a powerful attack.

However, above a certain level - let's say 2300 - the London System is more safe and easy than powerful. Above this level the London is better used as a surprise/back-up weapon than as your primary destruction weapon.