Publisher: Chess Evolution, 2016, Pages: 225, Paperback
"A complete opening repertoire for White against 1.d4 d5"
Every chess player is searching for a suitable opening repertoire throughout his career. In this search the player is trying to find a playing style and a position type that will suit his sensibility and character.
I was likewise looking for openings based on my playing style in which I would feel free and comfortable while playing, without fear that I would be caught in unfamiliar territory facing my opponent’s theoretical superiority. I began my search in the earliest days, actually from my junior years when I played 1.e4 as White, striving strictly for mainlines in which I was achieving solid results.
However, over time, the computer world has conquered chess and I realized that 1.e4 was too concrete for me. It was not allowing my playing style to express itself and I was not reaching positions in which I could show my true face. Also, I realized that 1.e4 couldn’t be played without thorough computer analysis, and I must admit that I still prefer the approach of an older generation; one which favours a chess book and a board in front of them and which likes to hold pieces in their hands while working on the development of their chess skills.
So, my opinion about 1.e4 slowly began to change. At the age of 22 I decided to seriously focus on a study of 1.d4. However, I encountered one, should I say, obstacle — and that was 1... d5! Just to mention that 1...Nf6 wasn’t a problem, because the positions arising weren’t symmetrical, while 1...d5 followed by the Slav Defence and the Queen’s Gambit was becoming an ‘impenetrable fortress’ which could be credited largely to Grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik.
I wish to emphasize that the problem for me at that time wasn’t being unable to fi nd an advantage for White, because I think that if Black plays the opening phase precisely White can’t reach an advantage in almost any system (except when Black is using openings proven to be incorrect), but the bigger issue was with the types of positions that were reached, which didn’t allow me to be free and creative. Also, the arising positions were deeply analysed by professional chess players with the help of very strong computer programs.
Continuing to explore 1.d4 I got an idea to check what one of my favourite players — Anthony Miles — had in his repertoire against 1...d5. Two games that left a strong impression on me were Miles — Minasian, Ohrid 2001 and Miles — Dominguez, Capablanca Memorial 2001. In those games Miles played 2.Bf4, which is known as the “London System”. Back then I didn’t know much about that system, and actually didn’t care to know, because I saw mostly weaker players playing the “London System” and it seemed to me that they were using it with the purpose of achieving a draw. It was precisely that attitude I had beforehand that helped me understand that maybe a great number of other players also had the same attitude, that they were underestimating the system and that maybe it should be analysed in greater detail and given a new meaning. I began to see that it could also serve as a very strong psychological weapon if studied well. The “London System” wasn’t played very often at the top level, it was relatively unexplored and it was precisely those conclusions that showed me that the eff ort should be made to thoroughly analyse this opening.
The move 2.f4 is pretty underestimated and is not considered serious enough, but I think it’s completely natural and logical. White’s structure is natural, with positions similar to those from Slav Defence and Stonewall with reverse colours, but with the problem of the inactive bishop, the so called “bad bishop” solved at the very beginning! By the way, I successfully played both of those openings as Black. Having that experience with the black pieces in mind, the study of the “London System” wasn’t a problem for me because I was already well-acquainted with the ideas and types of positions arising.
At the beginning of my exploration of this opening’s secrets I didn’t know if adequate literature about this system existed, so I relied mainly on the database, while I learned the most through my praxis and of course through analysis of my own games. The games of Croatian Grandmaster Vlatko Kovacevic were also a great influence on me. Help from my friends in analysis of the system was also very useful, so I often exchanged experiences and ideas with top Hungarian Grandmaster Ferenc Berkes, 2nd I will take the liberty to say that it was a fruitful collaboration because I’m personally satisfied with the results achieved using the studied material.
10 years after my first game in the “London System” — with more than 50 games played against many Grandmasters among others and with an overall performance over 2700 — I felt free and confident enough to distil my experience into a book, its purpose being to serve as a guide for other players searching for an opening which they will play with pleasure. The ideas and ways of treating these positions have changed over time, and I put an emphasis on that which I currently consider to be best for White.
This is the reason why the book is called Winning with the Modern London System. I have to mention that 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 or 2.Nf3 with Bf4 are also known as the London System. Personally, I’m not a fan of the London System against 1...Nf6, especially when Black arranges his pieces as he would in the King’s Indian Defence. The position of the bishop on f4 seems adequate to me only when black plays 1...d5, in which case it has a very important role to play, as opposed to when Black has the option of playing ….d6 when the London set-up seems less logical and I don’t believe in it.
So I chose to deal with the London System only against 1...d5 in this bookExcerpt