Kindred’s Special: Book Review–Play the London System

This book authored by International Master Cyrus Lakdawala, a former National Open and American Open Champion, six-time State Champ is entertaining and informative of a system made popular in the late 1880s by England’s Joseph Henry Blackburn and James Mason of Ireland.  Everyman Chess is well known in the chessbook business and published by Gloucester Publishers plc.  Using illustrative games from both blitz play and tournament play, Lakdawala examines and recommends the London System especially for the club player although the system is employed occasionally by leading Grandmasters.

The opening system is easy to learn for White but the Black defenses are numerous and often tricky. Anyone wishing to test it should do so from both sides of the board via their computer.

The pawn structure usually finds the following setup:  d4, e3, c3 with Black having a variety of setups against it.

The London System is one of the oldest and safest ways to open a game. In effect, you are playing a Slav-type pattern a move up, erecting a solid pawn structure of c3, d4, e3 with Nf3 and Bf4. Basically you simply do not care what your opponent does in meeting it.

Like most book authors, IM Lakdawala presents a very optimistic view of the whole system. Rightly so, he recommends it a good weapon in club play and occasional surprise system for those who essay it only on occasion. The fact is that it is safe and requires a more general assessment of move choices as play develops. Enthusiasts of this system look not so much for attaining an opening advantage as to laying the groundwork for middlegame tactics and position. London preparation is straightforward. Thus, he recommends playing through the stack of games within this book to get the “feel” for the patterns that emerge and offer themselves up. He sums it up best in describing the real purpose of the book: : I targeted the book for the club player and those rated between 1400 and 2000 although it is viable for those above and below that rating range. Many of the games are blitz play and include even a selection of IM and GM games. He picks a body of game examples that are worth study and for entertainment of truly lively games, often full of fireworks. Even included are some examples from “mavericks” who choose a timely c4 instead c3 as he suggests is more anti-London than following in the traditional sense. But when you notice the name of the player who does so, you can understand the old saying: there are more paths along the road to choose from.

Perhaps the Contents list says it best. Following the Bibliography on page 4 and Introduction on page 5, the author breaks down the various systems employed by Black against it:

  1. 1.d4  d5 with an early …e6
  2. 1.d4  d5 without an early …e6
  3. London versus Queen’s Indian
  4. London versus Gruenfeld
  5. London versus Reversed Reti
  6. London versus King’s Indian
  7. London versus Dutch
  8. London versus Benoni
  9. Other Lines
  10. An Inconvenient Move Order

Index of Variations

Index of Games

Soft cover, 256 pages, quality paper, $26.95.

Postscript: Many players admit they hate facing the London System, which is surely another good reason to buy the book!  In playing the London using Fritz, the black pieces were able to obtain promising positions and good battles resulted.

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