Strong resource in the London System

by ChessBase
2/12/2022 – The "Lucky bag" of ChessBase Magazine Extra has never been so extensively and diversely filled as in Extra #205! The new issue offers no less than 73 annotated games, including two tricky training exercises by GM Sasikiran. GM Kapnisis presents various opening ideas ("Scotch advance", "Benoni strikes", "Petroff rook shifts", "English castling"), plus analyses by Edouard, Krasenkow, Sumets and many more. However, Imre Hera's analysis of his game against his compatriot Zoltan Almasi from the Hungarian League - "The brilliancy" of this issue - is right at the top of the "Lucky bag". For his success against the higher-rated opponent, Hera employed a surprise in the popular London System: after 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 b6 4.e3 Be7 5.h3 c5 he went for the unusual 6.Nc3, which immediately posed problems for the nine-time Hungarian Champion. Take a look!

ChessBase Magazine Extra 205 ChessBase Magazine Extra 205

Opening videos: Christian Bauer shows a new sacrifice in the Voronezh Variation of the Alekhine Defence. Mihail Marin breaks a lance for the Berlin Defence with 4.d3 d6. "Lucky bag" with over 70 analyses by Edouard, Hera, Kapnisis, Sasikiran et al.


CBM Extra #205: The brilliancy 

Imre Hera – Zoltan Almasi (HUN-chT 21/22 Hungary, 19.12.2021)

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 I have not played the London since for a long time, and I felt here came the best occasion to test it again.

3...b6 4.e3 Be7 This is a tricky move order, not just preparing ...0–0, but rather ...Nf6–h5 to gain the bishop pair.

5.h3 A useful prophylactic move against that idea.

5...c5 6.Nc3!

A surprisingly strong reaction. White has two purposes: he intends to push d4–d5 or to go ahead with Nb5.

6.Bd3 0–0 7.Nc3 cxd4 8.exd4 Bb7 9.Qe2 Nc6 10.a3 Re8 11.0–0 Bf8 12.Rfe1 was the game I studied carefully during my preparation, a rapid encounter played almost half a year ago in which my former student beat the Hungarian star in great style. 12...a6 13.Rad1 Ne7 14.Ng5 Ng6 15.Bg3 d5 16.h4! Bd6 17.Bxg6! A deep understanding of the position. After ...hxg6 the g5–knight can remain longer around the black king. 17...hxg6 18.Be5 Nh5 19.Qg4 Bf8 20.Rd3 Bc8? 21.Nxf7! A terrific sacrifice, exploding the whole enemy kingside. 21...Kxf7 22.Rf3+ Nf6 23.h5 A cold-blooded silent move to which Black has no defence. 23...Ke7 (23...gxh5 24.Qxh5+ Ke7 25.Bxf6+ gxf6 26.Nxd5++–) 24.Qxg6 Kd7 25.h6 1–0 Korpa - Almasi, HUN-ch (rapid) Ajka 2021

6...cxd4?! This naive capture creates instant problems for Black.

After the less committal 6...0–0 wäre 7.d5 would be a tempting space-gaining attempt. (7.Nb5 Nd5 8.Bh2 d6 9.c4 Nc7 10.Nc3 cxd4 11.Qxd4 (11.Nxd4!? Bb7 12.Qc2) 11...Nc6 12.Qd2 Bb7 13.Rd1 e5 14.Be2 f5 15.0–0 Qe8 happened in the World Blitz Championship between Ushenina - Gunina, St Petersburg (blitz) 2018.) 7...d6 8.Bc4 Na6 9.dxe6 fxe6 10.Nb5 d5 11.Be2

7.Nxd4! A deep recognition. White has a double threat: the arrival of the knight from b5 would be more than annoying and Qf3 would win an exchange again.

7...a6?! 7...0–0 seemed like a better version of the game. 8.Qf3 d5 (8...Nc6 9.Nxc6 dxc6 10.Qxc6 Bd7 11.Qf3 Bb4 12.0–0–0 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Nd5 14.Be5 Qe7 15.c4 f6 16.Bb2) 9.Bxb8 Rxb8 10.Nc6 Qc7 11.Nxb8 Qxb8 12.Bd3 Bb7 Here I would have probably proceeded 13.Qe2 (13.0–0–0 Rc8) 13...d4! 14.exd4 Bxg2 15.Rg1 Qh2 16.0–0–0 Qxh3 17.Rde1 and it is questionable, how good the compensation is for Black.


It looked to me that my experienced opponent a bit overlooked this possiblity.

8...d5 9.Bxb8N 9.0–0–0 Bb7 was seen in a rapid game Kolchin - Khismatullin, Sochi 2019 where the strong Russian grandmaster easily outplayed his amateur opponent.

9...Rxb8 10.Nc6 Qc7 11.Nxb8 Bb4?

A desperate attempt to complicate the matters.

11...Qxb8 12.Bd3 Bb7 13.0–0 0–0 14.Qe2 Qa8 15.f4 and White is better.

12.Bd3 Bxc3+ 13.bxc3 Qxc3+ 14.Ke2 e5 15.e4

I could choose from several promising alternatives.

I was considering 15.Qg3 as well. 15...0–0 16.Rhc1 (16.Nc6 Qxc6 17.Qxe5) 16...Bb7 17.Nxa6 Ne4 18.Bxe4 dxe4 19.Kf1 Bxa6+ 20.Kg1+–; Even 15.Rhc1 was possible. 15...e4 16.Qg3 with a huge advantage.

15...0–0 16.exd5 I was ready to allow him opening the way in front of my king, because it was clear to me that I would be able to swap off queens.

16...e4 17.Bxe4 Nxe4 18.Qxc3 18.Qxe4 would have worked too. I did not like 18...Bf5 but it turned out that after 19.Qe3 (19.Qxf5?? Re8+–+) 19...Qc4+ 20.Kf3 Qxd5+ 21.Kg3 my king easily escapes. 21...Rxb8 22.Rhd1+–

18...Nxc3+ 19.Kd2 19.Kf3 was perhaps even simpler. 19...Nxd5 20.Kg3 Bb7 21.Nd7 Rd8 22.Ne5 f6 I had thought that he could get some activity here, which was not really true. 23.Nc4! b5 24.Na5 Ba8 25.Rhd1 Rc8 26.Rd2+–

19...Nxd5 20.c4 My target was the weak b6–pawn.

20...Nf4 21.Kc3! Leaving the open file to shelter the king before becoming too exposed.

21...Ne2+ 21...Nxg2 is met by 22.Rab1 b5 23.cxb5 axb5 24.Rxb5

22.Kb2 Nf4 23.Rad1!

Once more I gladly give the g2–pawn in order to force the exchange on d7.

23...Nxg2 24.Nd7 Bxd7 25.Rxd7 With the lonely knight Black can hardly pose bigger difficulties.

25...Nf4 26.Rd4 Proceeding in the less risky way.

26.Rd6 Rb8 27.Rhd1 g5 was not entirely clear for me. (27...Ne6 28.Kc3) 28.Rg1 (28.Rd8+ Rxd8 29.Rxd8+ Kg7 30.Rd6 would be somewhat adventurous, but the white king is close enough anyway. 30...Nxh3 31.Rxb6 Nxf2 32.Kc3+–) 28...Nxh3 29.Rg3 Nxf2 30.Rxg5+ Kf8 31.Rf5 Ng4 32.Rd7+–

26...Ne6 27.Rd6 Rb8 28.Kc3 b5 29.Rxa6 Rc8 30.Rb1

It was logical to bring the second rook finally.

30.Kb4 bxc4 31.Kc3 was the other option I calculated. 31...Nc5 32.Ra7 Ne4+ 33.Kc2 Nxf2 34.Rf1+–

30...Rxc4+ 31.Kd2 g5 32.Rxb5 Rf4 33.Ke1 I did not go for 33.Ke3 because of 33...Rh4 Anyway, even this would be winning after 34.Rf5! Rxh3+ 35.Kd2 followed by Ra7 and f7 will fall soon.

33...Kg7 34.a4 Rh4 Certainly 34...Nc7 is still impossible due to 35.Rxg5+

35.Ra7! A fine intermediation, threatening with the above-mentioned Rf5 manoeuvre.

35...Kg6 36.Rb3

Now I achieve my dream to support my passed pawn from behind.

36...Nd4 37.Rc3 Re4+ 38.Kf1 Ne6 39.Ra3 Rc4 40.a5 Rc1+ 41.Ke2 Nf4+ 42.Ke3 Re1+ 43.Kd4 Ne6+ 44.Kc4 Rc1+ 45.Kd3 Nf4+ 46.Kd2 Rf1 47.a6 Meanwhile I realized that it is easier to sacrifice the f2–pawn.

47...Rxf2+ 48.Ke1 I was very happy after the game, since it does not happen everyday that you win against a two times Olympic silver medalist and 9 times Hungarian champion!


Also in CBM Extra 205: Video training with GMs Christian Bauer and Mihail Marin (total playing time approx. 45 min.). Plus 73 detailed analyses by Vladimir Belous, Romain Edouard, Imre Hera, Spyridon Kapnisis, Michal Krasenkow, Krishnan Sasikiran, Tanmay Srinath and many more.

ChessBase Magazine Extra is the perfect supplement to ChessBase Magazine. Available as a single issue or by subscription (6 issues per year). Available on DVD or as a download.

ChessBase Magazine Exta #205

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