The London System Chess Opening with GM Ron W. Henley

So much has changed in the past hundred years but the London System has proven itself a solid, deceptively dangerous chess opening for white and survived everything the winds of change threw at it.

Despite the numerous attempts to thwart this opening it still retains enough of a punch to draw the attention of greats like Magnus Carlsen, Gata Kamsky and Levon Aronian, to name but a few.

Thankfully, in this modern age, people have learned there is more to the London System than merely a chess opening chosen by weaker chess players hoping for a draw against stronger chess players.

There is no better guide to teach you an opening than GM Ron Henley.

The Advantages Of Choosing The London System

The two greatest advantages are:

  • Reduces the amount of time needed to study the opening.
  • Can be used against practically any set-up black chooses.

GM Henley’s intimate knowledge of the London System stems from having played it himself. This means you can trust his comprehensive course will cover what you are likely to face over the board.

After studying this chess course you will feel confident about playing this sound system because you will have a solid understanding of the ideas, plans, and tactical motifs.

What Is The London System?

1.d4 followed by 2.Bf4 are the opening moves.

Unlike in The Colle System where white plays 2.e3 here, the bishop is developed first. This places it on an active square instead of being stuck behind the pawn when it would be a bad bishop.

The Origins Of The London System

The early history begins with James Mason, an Irish-born chess player and one of the best chess players of the 1880s. In the early years, the London System was known as the Mason Variation because he played it several times during the 1880s.

In 1922, the British Chess Federation Congress was organized in London. It was won by the third World Champion Jose Raul Capablanca with an undefeated score of 13 points out of 15 games. The opening which was previously named “Mason Variation” was quite popular in the tournament and as a result, became known as the “London System.”

Grandmasters Who Play This Chess Opening Today

the london system gm ron w

After you choose to play the dependable London System, some experts to follow are the Croatian Grandmaster Vlatko Kovacevic, GM Boris Grachev, GM Gata Kamsky, GM Nikola Sedlak (who wrote two excellent state-of-the-art books on the London System) and the Super-GMs Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian and Wei Yi.

Strategies In the London System For White

Black will often adopt a simple system of development against white’s setup. Because the bishop on f4 is such a powerful piece, black will challenge it by playing ..Bd6.

Once Black brings his dark-squared bishop to d6 to challenge White’s bishop on f4, White has three major possibilities:

bf4 options
White must decide if he wishes to exchange, move or leave his bishop on f4.

– Exchanging bishops on d6

– Retreating the bishop to g3

– Leaving the bishop on f4

All three possibilities have their pros and cons.

Generally speaking, the first option is the safest. White keeps his pawn structure intact and exchanges his bishop. Of course, as you can see in video, there are times when exchanging works well for white.

The second option (retreating the bishop to g3) keeps the tension on the diagonal and allows Black to exchange bishops. One key idea of this retreat is that after …Bxg3 hxg3, the h-file opens, and sometimes White can put pressure on Black’s position with his rook along the h-file.

The third option is the most committal. White gives Black the chance to create an imbalance by playing …Bxf4 exf4.

Although in this structure, White has doubled pawns on the f-file, he also the half-open e-file and, most importantly, strong control of the important e5-square – which is a potential outpost for one of White’s knights.

In this structure, White often gets good control over the key central dark squares d4 and e5.

This game between Rubinstein and Tartakower is a good example of this last strategy.

In addition, it’s sometimes possible for white to employ a fourth option in moving his bishop from the h2-b8 diagonal by playing Bf4-g5, pinning the knight on f6.

More Attacking Options For White

If Black develops his bishop to e7 and goes for a setup with moves like …0-0, …Nbd7, …b6, …Bb7, White often has good prospects to launch an attack on the kingside. He can move his knight to e5 thus making room for the queen to come to the kingside via f3.

Sometimes, White can even consider leaving his king on e1 and pushing his h-pawn up the board. Not only is the h-pawn a potential attacking unit, but also the rook on h1, which can join the attack via the maneuver Rh1-h3-g3.

The following position illustrates White’s attacking chances on the kingside with a typical position White can achieve from the London System:

typical attacking ideas for white
Typical attacking ideas for white

In the London System, you always need to be prepared to have a good answer if Black attacks your bishop on f4 with the move …Nf6-h5. One idea is to leave the bishop on f4 and let Black take the bishop, recapture with the e-pawn and get a grip on the e5-square.

Another sharp attacking idea is to move the bishop to e5. The idea is that the knight on h5 is unprotected and vulnerable to some attacks. After …f6, attacking the bishop on e5, White often has ideas to play Ng5, attacking the knight on h5 with the queen.

The game Henley – Smith is a good illustration of this plan.

As you can see the London System is a fun chess opening for white despite how unassuming it appears at first.

Learn A Solid, Attacking Chess Opening In A Day

As mentioned earlier the London System needn’t take a very long time for you to learn. The recurring ideas and tactical themes make it an ideal choice for somebody who would rather learn ideas than memorize theory.

GM Ron Henley will have you well prepared and ready to play this opening confidently against any setup black adopts.

Course Contents

Here is what will you will learn:

  • Black’s Early e6
  • Classical …Bd6 and …Bxf4
  • Black’s Early …Nc6
  • Black Combines …Bf5 and …Nc6
  • Black Fianchetto with an early …g6
  • Black’s Early …d6 and other moves
  • Example Games Parts 1&2

In Conclusion

The London System as a chess opening for white is deceptive in it’s simplicity. Behind this unassuming facade, there is a lot of potential energy waiting to be unleashed on a poorly prepared opponent.

You can play the London System confidently without having to learn long theoretical variations of a dozen moves or more. The best part is this doesn’t make it any less dangerous.

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henley london system product image
The Henley Files London System by GM Ron Henley

There aren’t many openings that combine a sound structure with realistic chances to play for a win. Why turn down the opportunity to have the best of both worlds if you can get it?

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