Chess tournaments Chess strategy Computer chess Chess players FIDE Chess variants Chess rules and history

King's Indian Defence

King's Indian Defence
a b c d e f g h
8
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6
ECO E60-E99
Parent Indian Defence
Synonym(s) King's Indian
KID

The King's Indian Defence is a common chess opening. It arises after the moves:

1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 g6

Black intends to follow up with 3...Bg7 and 4...d6. The Grünfeld Defence arises when Black plays 3...d5 instead, and is considered a separate opening. White's major third move options are 3.Nc3, 3.Nf3 or 3.g3, with both the King's Indian and Grünfeld playable against these moves.

The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (ECO) classifies the King's Indian Defence under the codes E60 through E99.

Overview

The King's Indian is a hypermodern opening, where Black deliberately allows White control of the centre with his pawns, with the view to subsequently challenge it with the moves ...e5 or ...c5. Until the mid-1930s, it was generally regarded as highly suspect, but the analysis and play of three strong Ukrainian players in particular - Alexander Konstantinopolsky, Isaac Boleslavsky, and David Bronstein - helped to make the defence much more respected and popular. It is a dynamic opening, exceptionally complex, and a favourite of former world champions Garry Kasparov, Bobby Fischer, and Mikhail Tal, with prominent grandmasters Viktor Korchnoi, Miguel Najdorf, Efim Geller, John Nunn, Svetozar Gligorić, Wolfgang Uhlmann, Ilya Smirin, Teimour Radjabov and Ding Liren having also contributed much to the theory and practice of this opening.

Variations

The main variations of the King's Indian are:

Classical Variation: 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5

a b c d e f g h
8
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Classical Variation

The Classical Variation is 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5.

Sämisch Variation: 5.f3

Read main article: King's Indian Defence, Sämisch Variation

The Sämisch Variation is 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3. It is named after Friedrich Sämisch, who developed the system in the 1920s. This often leads to very sharp play with the players castling on opposite wings and attacking each other's kings, as in the Bagirov-Gufeld game given below, though it may also give rise to heavyweight positional struggles. Black has a variety of pawn breaks, such as ...e5, ...c5 and ...b5 (prepared by ...c6 and/or ...a6). This can transpose to the Modern Benoni after 5...0-0 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 e6. World champions Mikhail Botvinnik, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian, Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov have all played this variation. This line defends the e4 pawn to create a secure centre and enables White to begin an attack kingside with Be3, Qd2, Bh6, g2-g4 and h2-h4. It allows placement of a bishop on e3 without allowing ...Ng4; however, its drawback is that it deprives the knight on g1 of its most natural square, thus impeding development of the kingside. Black can strike for the centre as previously mentioned or delay with 6...Nc6, 7...a6 and 8...Rb8 so that Black can play ...b7-b5 to open lines on the queenside.

a b c d e f g h
8
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
The Sämisch Gambit. Black has sacrificed a pawn for temporary advantages.

The Classical Defence to the Sämisch is 5...0-0 6.Be3 e5, when White has a choice between closing the centre with 7.d5, or maintaining the tension with 7.Nge2. Kasparov was a major proponent of this defence.

The Sämisch Gambit arises after 5...0-0 6.Be3 c5. This is a pawn sacrifice, and was once considered dubious. As Black's play has been worked out, this evaluation has changed, and the gambit now enjoys a good reputation. A practical drawback, however, is that a well-prepared but unambitious White player can often enter lines leading to a forced draw. The line where White accepts the gambit runs 5...0-0 6.Be3 c5 7.dxc5 dxc5 8.Qxd8 (8.e5 Nfd7 9.f4 f6 10.exf6 is also possible here, though less often seen) Rxd8 9.Bxc5 Nc6. Black's activity is believed to give sufficient compensation. White's most frequent play is to decline the gambit, and instead play 7.Nge2, and head for Benoni type positions after a d4-d5 advance.

5...0-0 6.Be3 Nc6 7.Nge2 a6 8.Qd2 Rb8 leads to the Panno Variation of the Sämisch. Black prepares to respond appropriately depending on White's choice of plan. If White plays 0-0-0 and goes for a kingside attack, then 7...a6 prepares ...b7-b5 with a counterattack against White's castled position. If instead White plays more cautiously, then Black challenges White's centre with ...e5.

Averbakh Variation: 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5

The Averbakh Variation is 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 (named for Yuri Averbakh), which prevents the immediate 6...e5. Black usually repels the bishop with ...h6 giving him the option of a later g5, though in practice this is a weakening move. White has various ways to develop, such as Qd2, Nf3, f4 or even h4. However, Black obtains good play against all of these development schemes. The old main line in this begins with 6...c5, though 6...Nbd7 and 6...Na6 (Judit Polgár's move) are also seen.

a b c d e f g h
8
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Four Pawns Attack

Four Pawns Attack: 5.f4

Read main article: King's Indian Defence, Four Pawns Attack

The Four Pawns Attack continues with 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 0-0 6.Nf3. This is the most aggressive method for White, and was often seen in the 1920s. With his fifth move, White erects a massive centre at the price of falling behind in development. If Black can open the position, White may well find himself overextended. From this 6...c5 is the main line.

a b c d e f g h
8
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Fianchetto Variation

Fianchetto Variation: 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3

The Fianchetto Variation 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d6 6.0-0, is named for White's development of his light squared bishop to g2, and is one of the most popular lines at the grandmaster level, with Korchnoi once its most notable practitioner. This method of development is on completely different lines than other King's Indian variations. Here, Black's normal plan of attack can hardly succeed, as White's kingside is more solidly defended than in most KID variations. The most common responses are:

Sidelines

Finally, White has other setups, such as Nf3 and h3 and Nge2 (with or without Bd3), but these are currently not as popular at the grandmaster level. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nge2 followed by 6.Ng3 is called the Hungarian Attack.

Famous games

The moves are shown for one of the most famous King's Indian games, a brilliancy by the late Ukrainian-American grandmaster Eduard Gufeld, who called it his "Mona Lisa":

Vladimir Bagirov-Eduard Gufeld, USSR championship 1973
1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4 Nf6 5.f3 0-0 6.Be3 Nc6 7.Nge2 Rb8 8.Qd2 a6 9.Bh6 b5 10.h4 e5 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.h5 Kh8 13.Nd5 bxc4 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Qh6 Nh5 16.g4 Rxb2 17.gxh5 g5 18.Rg1 g4 19.0-0-0 Rxa2 20.Nef4 exf4 21.Nxf4 Rxf4 22.Qxf4 c3 23.Bc4 Ra3 24.fxg4 Nb4 25.Kb1 Be6 26.Bxe6 Nd3 27.Qf7 Qb8+ 28.Bb3 Rxb3+ 29.Kc2 Nb4+ 30.Kxb3 Nd5+ 31.Kc2 Qb2+ 32.Kd3 Qb5+ 0-1

ECO codes

The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (ECO) classification of variations of the King's Indian are:

COMMENTS
Tabletop games: Rules and Strategy