December 22, 2023
Learn the ins and outs of the Jobava London System, an aggressive and flexible chess opening, to surprise your opponents and control the game early on.
Ever felt like you're walking in circles with your chess openings? It's time to step off the beaten path and explore the Jobava London System – a creative and less conventional approach that's shaking up the chess world. This system is all about bringing the battle to your opponent from the get-go, offering a refreshing change to the familiar patterns we often see on the chessboard.
The London System itself is an old and respected opening that dates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was frequently used in the London tournaments of 1922 and 1924, which is how it got its name. The traditional London System, characterized by the moves d4, Nf3, Bf4, aims for a solid but somewhat passive setup that avoids the heavy theory of more popular openings.
The Jobava London System is a spicy twist over this well-established but also very well-known system. The Jobava London is a chess opening inspired by the Georgian Grandmaster Baadur Jobava, who added an element of aggression to the traditional and more conservative opening strategies.
This unique approach to chess gained widespread attention, much like a new fashion trend catching the eye of enthusiasts. Even some of the top-level chess players have occasionally incorporated this style into their games. The Jobava London is known for its fun and creative nature, offering a less-traveled path, making it a great choice for players who enjoy adding excitement right from the start of the game.
The openings start with the following moves: 1. d4, d5 2. Nc3, Nf6 3. Bf4
As a quick note, it is important to play 2. Nc3 early on as it threatens to play e2-e4 and “forces” black to respond with Nf6 or Bf5, which allows us to follow a more predictable opening and avoid any surprise moves.
As most beginners know, we must follow the opening principles; however, what separates the strong player from the beginner is the understanding of when to break these rules!
Two common opening principles:
Now, let's see how Jobava breaks these rules. A funny, but interesting sequence of moves.
After a common line; 3… e6, white plays 4. Nb5!, which indeed, moves the knight once again in the opening (?!), but it also forces black to play 4…Na6, forcing the knight to position itself awkwardly. Even after the typical black maneuver of c6-Nc7, black still usually regrets not being able to place the knight on its natural c6 square, where it can fight for the center.
If you're playing with white, what does this mean for you?
Well, now you have great chances to control the e5 square.
Check out this position seen between Jobava and Le Quang Liem, where Jobava delivers a masterclass on how solid central control can lead to a danger kingside attack.
Jobava went on to win this game in stellar fashion.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the game or a seasoned player, the Jobava London offers a compelling strategic framework to expand your chess horizons. It’s a testament to the opening’s versatility and adaptability that it can serve as a trusted tool in any player’s tactical arsenal.
Pro Tip: Even if a chess move looks like a no-brainer, really getting good at an opening means understanding why you're making that move in the first place. It's all about the 'why' just as much as the 'what'.
The offensive tactics of the Jobava London, such as attacking the c7-pawn or assaulting a kingside fianchetto with the h4-h5 pawn push, are remarkably powerful even against experienced players. Consider the significant difficulty these strategies can present to intermediate or novice opponents.
Alright, now let's dive into a cool scenario you might run across on the board.
Imagine you've kicked things off with 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bf4 Nc6 4.Nb5. Now, black realizes they are in trouble as Nxc7+ is an important threat, so they play 5...e5. The game follows with 6. dxe5 Ne4, and suddenly, there's a sneaky little tactic hiding in the position.
Can you spot it?
Ready for the solution?
White plays Qxd5! (Sacrificing the queen). If you black recaptures with Qxd5, then we play Nxc7, forking the black king and the queen. So, we win our queen back and we win a pawn with this tactic. Pretty neat!
Here's another trap that many players fall into.
Nxc6! This creates a discovered attack against the d6 bishop. Black responds with bxc6, and we capture the d6 bishop with Bxf4, winning a pawn in the process.
The Jobava London is known to lead to highly tactical positions like this.
Sounds amazing, doesn´t it?
But not everything is perfect of course, and that's why you need to know the main advantages and disadvantages of the Jobava London:
Black can opt for several different set-ups.
Let's learn what these are and how to respond to each of them.
The most creative idea against this setup is to advance the pawns on the kingside to gain space and create an attack shortly.
Once again, we may follow more classic, quiet ways of playing with the main move 4. e3, or you may surprise your opponent by playing 4. e4!
After this move, there are three ways to follow:
We won't cover all these variations, but to get you curious and interested to do your own research, let's look at one of them:
If black responds with 4...dxe4, we can play 5. d5!
This approach has received the approval of world-class grandmasters like Narodistky, Bortnyk, Nakamura, Korobov, and others. The ideas are interesting: you control key squares in your opponent´s territory (like the c6 and e6 squares). wich usually leads them to play into moves but can be extensively prepared (5…g6/5…a6/5…Bf5) and which, as a bonus, allows white plenty of room for creativity.
Exploring the Jobava London System is akin to adding a vibrant layer to the traditionally solid London System, infusing it with an energetic strategic thrust. This approach to the classic opening brings a dynamic edge to the game, inviting a wealth of tactical opportunities early on.
It may seem that such an opening is reserved for the strongest players, but it's quite the opposite. The Jobava London has shown its merit across a broad spectrum of skill levels, from the sub-2000 range to the elite 2800s, confirming its utility as a lifelong companion in a player's repertoire.
For those just embarking on their chess journey, the Jobava London is especially approachable, leading to intuitive piece development and straightforward strategic objectives. The paths for piece placement are intuitive, and the pawn play comes with understandable strategic intentions.
If you like dynamic play, this opening will feel like a breath of fresh air. It's for the adventurer in you who loves to steer the game into uncharted territory.
In conclusion, the Jobava London System isn't just another opening. It's a statement. It tells your opponent that you're not here to follow; you're here to lead. With each piece playing a vital role in your strategic battle plan, this system offers you the chance to showcase your creativity and control the game from the very first moves.
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