London queen sortie

by ChessBase
3/8/2022 – ChessBase Magazine #206 once again offers a wealth of ideas and recommendations for your repertoire. Besides the three opening videos by Jan Werle, Daniel King and Mihail Marin as well as Rainer Knaak's collection of "Topical opening traps", the new issue contains eleven opening articles covering a broad spectrum: Reti, Caro-Kann, Sicilian Nimzowitsch and Taimanov Variation, Petroff, Ruy Lopez, London System, Slav, Gruenfeld and King's Indian - everywhere there are exciting ideas to get to know. In his article Evgeny Postny examines the queen sortie 5...Qb6 in the London System. In the highly topical variation, White sacrifices a pawn after 6.dxc5 Qxb2 7.Rb1 Qc3 8.Bb5. So it's straight to the point! The variation is "absolutely okay" from Black's point of view, according to Postny, but you shouldn't get involved without prior knowledge! Otherwise the danger is too great that you will lose the queen already in the opening. Take a look!

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London queen sortie

Evgeny Postny checks 5...Qb6 6.dxc5 Qxb2

The topic of the current survey is the following opening variation: 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bf4 c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.Nbd2 Qb6 6.dxc5

We are at the famous London System which gained a lot of popularity in the last decade. It is especially common in fast time controls and online battles as White can make his first moves nearly automatically regardless of the setup that the opponent choses. In the current article we will examine an aggressive line in which Black is trying to solve his opening problems in a very concrete way. Attacking the b2 pawn at an early stage, he does not allow White to get the comfortable setup after c2-c3, followed by Bf1-d3 and so on.

The move 6.dxc5, as in the diagram above, is the only ambitious option, and now Black has a choice which pawn to take with the queen.

6...Qxb2 is the main and the best move. Inferior is 6...Qxc5. After 7.c4 e6 8.a3 White will capitalize on the black vulnerable queen. In the game Praggnanandhaa,R - Maghsoodloo,P 1-0 he achieved a comfortable advantage.

So, 6...Qxb2.

After 7.Rb1 Black normally plays 7...Qc3 (too greedy is 7...Qxa2, while 7...Qa3 is a possible alternative that is regularly employed by strong Russian GM Alexey Sarana, see for example the game Hauchard,A - Sarana,A 1-0). Let's follow the main line - 8.Bb5.

White is ready to sacrifice a pawn for the initiative. Black is making a lot of moves with his queen and therefore is lagging in development. There is an important crossroad now. Black has three options: A) 8...Qxc5, B) 8...e6 and C) 8...g6.

A) 8...Qxc5

Not the best move. Now after simple 9.0-0 it is not easy for Black to complete the development. In the correspondence game Genga,S - Palm,W 1-0 White had the upper hand after 9...a6 10.Bxc6+ Qxc6 11.c4.

B) 8...e6

The most common and logical. After 9.0-0 Be7 White now has a choice.

B1) 10.Nd4.

The very natural way. Black has two options, both of them are playable - 10...Qxc5 (Busemann,S - Szczepanski,Z ½-½) and 10...Bd7 (Klauner,T - Pecka,J ½-½).

B2) 10.Ne5.

Another tempting way to attack the pinned black knight. However, after 10...Bd7 11.Nxd7 Nxd7 12.e4 a6 Black managed to simplify the position and force a repetition soon in the correspondence game Kribben,M - Vesely,P ½-½.

B3) 10.e4.

The most aggressive way. Now both captures on e4 are bad for Black. The right move is 10...0-0. There follows 11.e5 Nd7 12.Nb3 Qb4 13.Nfd4 Nxd4 14.Nxd4 Qxc5 15.Re1.

Here we get a situation in which White has a long term compensation for the pawn. The game Berkes,F - Forcen Esteban,D 1-0 illustrates well the risks for Black. In a recent online battle Wesley So defended successfully against Alireza Firouzja, but my impression is that this position is dangerous for Black.

Another option for White worth mentioning is 9.Ne5 (instead of 9.0-0).

Here after 9...Qxc5 10.0-0 Be7 11.c4 White has chances for an advantage as in the game Van Foreest,J - Brunner,N 1-0. It is safer for Black to play 9...Bd7 and after 10.Nxd7 Nxd7 11.0-0 Be7 the position transposes to the above mentioned game Kribben-Vesely (line B2).

C) 8...g6

The fianchetto development became quite fashionable this year. Now White can castle or try to break through the center right away.

C1) 9.0-0.

After 9...Bg7 White should activate his knight, for instance 10.Nb3 0-0 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.Be5 Qc4 13.Nfd4.

We are following the online encounter Carlsen,M - Ding,L ½-½ and the objective evaluation here is equality.

Another possible way is 10.Nd4 Bd7 11.N2b3 0-0 12.a4.

White stabilized his queenside, but the correspondence game Jonsson,D - Zhak,B ½-½ ended in a draw anyway.

C2) 9.e4.

Quite a shocking strike in the center. Black has to play very precisely to neutralize White's initiative. The World Cup winner showed the way: 9...dxe4 10.Be5 Qa5 11.0-0 exf3 12.Qxf3

12...Qxb5! Black gets enough material for the queen. See the recent game Nabaty,T - Duda,J ½-½.

Conclusion: Overall the line is absolutely okay for Black, but he has to be well prepared. In some lines the black queen is in danger, which means that one error might end the game on the spot.

You can find the complete article with all games and analyses in the new ChessBase Magazine #206!

All opening articles in ChessBase Magazine #206

Hera: Reti Opening 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.b4 g5
Schandorff: Caro-Kann Advance Variation 3.e5 Bf5 4.h4 h5 5.Bd3 Bxd3 6.Qxd3. Qa5+ 7.b4!?
Szabo: Sicilian Nimzowitsch Var. 3.e5 Nd5 (Part II)
Braun: Sicilian Taimanov Variation 7.g4!?
Kapnisis: Petroff 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5/6.Nc3
Ris: Ruy Lopez with 3...Bc5 (Part I) 4.0-0 Nd4
Lorenzini: Ruy Lopez Delayed Exchange 6.Bxc6
Postny: London System 5.Nbd2 Qb6 6.dxc5 Qxb2
Grigoriants: Slav 3.Nf3 dxc4 4.e3 Be6 5.Nbd2
Vogel: Gruenfeld 5.Bd2 c5!?
Zelbel: King's Indian recipes against 6.Be2 (Part II) 

ChessBase Magazine #206


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