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King's Indian Defence, Four Pawns Attack

Four Pawns Attack
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 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4
ECO E76-E79
Named after Pawns d4, c4, e4, f4
Parent King's Indian Defence

The Four Pawns Attack in the King's Indian Defence is a chess opening that begins with the moves:

1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 g6
3. Nc3 Bg7
4. e4 d6
5. f4

White immediately builds up a large pawn centre in order to gain a spatial advantage. Black first develops his pieces, then tries to attack White's centre by means of the pawn advances ...e7-e5, ...c7-c5 or ...f7-f5, depending on circumstances.

The main variations of the Four Pawns Attack are:

The relevant Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings codes are E76 through E79.

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
After 6...c5 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5

The main line of the Four Pawns Attack after 6...c5 7.d5 continuing 7...e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 now gives Black a choice of the old main line with 9...Re8 or the new main line with 9...Bg4.

Old main line with 9...Re8

Highly tactical possibilities abound in which the critical position occurs after 10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Ng4 12.Bg5, a position which is perhaps better avoided by Black. After 12...Qb6 13.0-0 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.Qd2 Bf5 white was not able to achieve any significant advantage.

New main line with 9...Bg4

A common-sense move with the idea of exchanging the bishop for the knight and taking the energy out of White's e5 attacking plan. The development of the bishop also frees Black's queenside for smooth development and active play. Invariably, development continues with 10.0-0 Nbd7 when White faces the possibly of kicking the bishop with h3 or delaying with Re1 first. In the game Jesus Nogueiras-Garry Kasparov, White opted for the immediate kick, 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 Re8 in a game that was eventually drawn.

White varies on move 7, 8 or 9

The sacrifice 7...b5

Having similar ideas to the Benko Gambit, this b5 push remains uncharted. After 8.cxb5 (8.e5 is to be considered) 8...a6, White has choices between the possibility of taking the a-pawn, or supporting the pawn on b5. The more common response is to support with 9.a4.

The modern alternative 6...Na6!?

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8
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7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 6...Na6!?

Black first develops one additional piece before reacting in the centre. The idea is to bring in the push e7-e5 instead of the main line c7-c5. This is a gambit in which Black hopes to take advantage of the slight underdevelopment of White forces in order to win back the sacrificed pawn or to directly attack the white king. The move ...Na6 is designed post on c5 (once the d4-pawn has left) in order to attack the e4-pawn. An important difference between this move and Nbd7 is that Na6 does not block the queenside bishop.

After the normal 7.Be2, Black must immediately unleash 7...e5!? when White has several possibilities, but only a capture on e5 is assumed to make sense:

Black varies on move 5

Black can also vary with 5...c5, electing to strike at the White centre before castling and discouraging any 6.e5 ideas from White. Teimour Radjabov, perhaps the leading contemporary practitioner of the King's Indian Defence, has been known to play this line. If 6.dxc5, Black can answer with ...Qa5, effectively forking the pawns at e4 and c5, regaining the material with a stronger centre and a lead in development. Generally, Black will follow up with 7...Qxc5, preventing White from castling at least temporarily and taking control of the sensitive g1-a7 diagonal, given that White has moved his f-pawn. If after 6...Qa5 White plays the materialistic 7.cxd6? then Black has 7...Nxe4 with advantage.

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