First of all, if you haven’t read my first article on this anti-London system then I strongly recommend that you do as it introduces the wider system and the four major lines of 4. Nf3, 4. e3, 4. cxd or 4.Nc3 and their respective merits. The rest of this article will not make much sense otherwise…
It was the 4. Nc3 lines that caused the most conversation online. IM Frendzas from Greece rightly questioned and then found a much superior line in the Nc3 variation that I had overlooked in the first article. Lets take a look.
1.d4 d5 2. Bf4 Bf5 3. c4 Nc6 4. Nc3 e5?! 5. cxd5 Nb4
IM Frendzas puts our initial choice of 5…Nb4 in jeopardy
Previously I had suggested 6. e4 for white with a messy position but IM Frendzas found a nice alternative leading to a clear advantage for white, 6. Bxe5!
“Go ahead, I don’t care about the c2 square!”
At first it seems astonishing that white can play this and voluntarily leave his king in the centre but as we will see, whites king is more than safe and ends up running to the queenside.
6…Nc2+ 7. Kd2 Nxa1 8. e4!
Black has won a rook and forced whites king to the centre yet unbelievably is in an inferior position
As IM Frendzas points out:
- white has two pawns and a massive centre for the rook;
- The knight on a1 is ultimately doomed;
- The white king can run to the queenside (probably being the one to gobble the a1 knight)
- Black is sorely lacking good squares to develop his pieces too.
Having debated the merits of the above position (the computer agrees too, giving an evaluation of between +0.7 and +0.9 for white) its hard to find much pleasure in the position for Black, no matter how great it initially looks. The initial recommendation of 5…Nb4 doesn’t seem to be holding up in the Nc3 lines so we need to find an alternative if our anti-London system is to survive past its infancy.
Line #4a – 4. Nc3 e5 5. cxd5
Having looked extensively at 5…Nb4 its too good for white. Our subsequent discussions and analysis shows that the best line for black in this variation is likely to involve accepting weak pawns with the interesting move 5…exf4
Black accepts weak pawns to remove whites annoying black squared bishop
This leads to the almost forced line of 6. dxc6 bxc6 7. Qd2 Bd6 8. g3!
Black retains the bishop pair and has a clear plan of development
The position is unusual (something we wanted to achieve in our anti-London philosophy) and whites black squared bishop is no more. The computer evaluation of this position gives us +0.3 so it would seem to give a playable position for black.
So our anti-London Chigorin system is still alive and kicking albeit with a necessary re-evaluation of the tricky Nc3 lines. My thanks to everyone who has commented and contributed thus far but especially to IM Frendzas for his insight and analysis. So what is next?
Well despite almost all theory and top masters agreeing that after 2…Nf5 whites best response is 3.c4, I have still received a lot of comments from London players wanting to stick to their system with c3, e3 and the traditional London structure. It seems that a third article may be required to look at blacks options in the event of the player of the white pieces proving particularly reticent to push the c pawn two squares.
Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.