Are you looking for a fun, attacking opening for white that you can learn on the weekend? Yes, there is an opening that’s easy to learn and offers excellent winning chances.
Here are five reasons you’ll love the Jobava London System or Rapport-Jobava System.
1. The Simplicity and Ease of Learning Is Unmatched
No chess opening is entirely free of theory, but as far as keeping it to a minimum, few can match the Jobava London System. Unlike the regular London System, there is a lot less theory to learn, mainly because Black’s options are more limited.
In the Jobava London, there are only eight main responses for black. The good news is that White’s strategies consist of easy-to-remember plans and natural developing moves.
The opening is a system chess opening, which means knowing the general plans and where the pieces go is more important than memorizing lines of theory.
You need not worry about getting caught by a novelty or missing a tactic if you forget the correct move order. Getting back on track is easy in the Jobava London System.
The Jobava London System begins with the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4.
Of course, in a system opening, there is a lot of room for transpositions, but this is the characteristic development you want to play. Black could meet 1.d4 with 1…Nf6 and then play 2…d5, inducing this pawn advance is the reason behind 2.Nc3.
Suppose black fails to meet 2.Nc3 with 2…d5, White can establish a classical pawn center with 3.e4. Once you have taken control of the center, natural developing moves like Bf4, Nf3, and 0-0 will ensure you get a pleasant position without any weaknesses.
Although it is best not to rush learning a new opening, if needed, you could learn this opening in a single day. A better approach is to set aside a weekend and use the second day for revision.
2. Lots of Attacking Plans and Fun Strategies
The Jobava London System can appear a modest set up by white by your unsuspecting opponent. However, a closer look shows that white kept pawn moves to a minimum, developed two pieces in the first three moves and can castle long after Qd2.
Pieces before pawns is always an excellent strategy in the opening.
Long castle by white is a frequent occurrence because a kingside pawn storm is not uncommon in the Jobava London System. When Black plays the natural …Bf5, you respond with f3 followed by g4 and h4.
The pawn advance harasses both of Black’s developed pieces on the kingside – the bishop and the knight. To save the pieces, Black must push pawns forward and create objects of attack.
Pushing the h-pawn forward will make castling short unappealing for black. The white king is safe on the queenside, so the kingside pawn storm is a sound strategy.
Here, Jobava shows us how to use this kingside expansion and crash through Black’s defenses. Note another typical move in the Jobava London System – Bd6.
This move helps drive away the rook from the defense of f7. Removing the defender of f7 is particularly useful if you establish a knight on e5.
In this game, Jobava was ranked 111 lower than his 2799-rated opponent.
Baadur Aleksandrovich Jobava - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, 2014.06.16, 1-0, World Rapid Championship Round 3.1, Dubai UAE
3. You Can Play It Against Almost Every Black Defense
The only transposition from a Queen Pawn Game occurs if Black refrains from playing …d5 and allows you to establish a d4, e4 pawn center. This transition to a Pirc Defense is the most likely way to leave the Jobava London System.
Staying with familiar moves and strategies, you can play the Classical System against the perk with Bf4, Nf3, be2, and 0-0, or another dangerous, underrated weapon against the Pirc Defense is the 4.Bg5 line.
Against the King’s Indian Defense setup, you can launch an attack by advancing harry the h-pawn up the board. For example, 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bf4 g6 4.e3 Bg7 5.h4 0-0 6.h5 Nxh5 7.Rxh5 gxh5 8.Qxh5
After Black castles short, the exchange sacrifice provides White with full compensation. When the dust has settled, notice Black’s undeveloped queenside, while White can develop the bishop with tempo to d3, play Nf3, long castle, and bring the rook to the semi-open h-file.
Even after 8.Qxh5, the only developed black piece is the bishop on g7, which must defend against three developed white pieces – the knight on c3, the bishop on f4, and the queen on h5.
Ivar Bern was so confident he was willing to play it against an opponent rated 181 Elo higher.
Ivar used another common tactic with Qh2, which created a queen and bishop battery attacking the c7-pawn. The bishop on f4 combines well with Nb5 to put lots of pressure on c7.
Bern, Ivar (2301) - Bern, Ivar (2482), 2020.03.08, 1-0, NOR-chT Elite 1920 Round 9.3, Norway
4. Works for Both Positional and Attacking Players
An excellent feature of the Jobava London system is how you can often play a position in an attacking or positional style. One typical move you will often face at club level is an early …c5 when White has two exciting approaches.
The aggressive approach involves a pawn sacrifice for an excellent lead in development. The safer system still gives White a lead in development and active piece play.
1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 c5 3.e4
This counterblow in the center is in keeping with the style of play one expects from Rapport and Jobava. After 3.dxe4, the safer option is 4.Bb5+ Bd7 5.dxc5, but if you enjoy open lines and do not mind sacrificing material, you can play 4.d5 Nf6 5.Bf4 or 5.f3.
By playing 5.Bf4, you keep the option to gambit the pawn with f3. There is no way for Black to stop this advance, so delaying this move makes sense.
This variation scores well for White, and apart from f3, there are plenty of opportunities to sacrifice material.
In the Jobava London System, your chess engine will often judge the position as equal or even give a slight edge to black, but the positions are usually easier to play for white. The attacking plans are clear, and it is well-known that defending in chess is more challenging than attacking.
As has already been seen, despite the chess engine evaluation, many white players have beaten higher-rated opponents. No matter your playing style, you will find a variation to fit you.
The next game features a white victory between two evenly-matched opponents. Prohaszka, playing black, was rated 2582, and even he couldn’t defend a position the engine evaluates as even on move eleven.
Berkes, F. (2664) - Prohaszka, P2. (2582), 2015.05.20, 1-0, 34th Zalakaros Open 2015 Round 7.4, Zalakaros HUN
5.The Jobava London is Playable At All Levels
As you have seen, players from 2300 to 2800 have successfully played the Jobava London System. This makes the opening an excellent choice for players of all levels because you can play it your entire career.
Beginners will find it easy to play because many variations involve simple, classical development. The pieces often go to their best squares, and the ideas behind pawn moves are easy to understand.
When learning an opening, always seek to understand the reason behind every move, no matter how obvious the reason might appear.
The attacking plans of targeting the c7-pawn or attacking a kingside fianchetto with h4-h5 are incredibly effective and pose problems to titled players. Think how much more challenging they will prove against intermediate or beginner chess players.
Bonus tip: You will likely face an early …Nc6 from black. This move is a mistake because the knight cannot defend the c7-square.
When White attacks c7 with Nb5, the only defense for Black is …Na6.
After 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bf4 Nc6 4.Nb5 at best Black will lose a pawn.
Now the only way to defend c7 is with 4…e5, but there follows 5.dxe5 attacking the f6 knight. This pawn capture also frees the d4 square for the knight on b5.
A natural move for Black is to retreat the knight to d7, but this runs into e6. Now White attacks the knight on d7 and has a discovered attack on c7.
The Jobava London System is a fun opening to play with white. You do not need much time to learn the Jobava London opening, making it an ideal filler while you study another opening.
However, this filler opening can stand on its own and become a first choice opening if you desire. After studying a more extensive opening repertoire, you will have a sound second opening to keep opponents guessing.
Undoubtedly, some of your opponents will underestimate the Jobava London System. The tactics might appear crude, but they are extremely difficult to defend against over the board.