Beat 1.d4 as Black with the King's Indian Defense Mysterious Sideline
Chess Openings

The King’s Indian Defense – A Mysterious Sideline

The King’s Indian Defense – A Mysterious Sideline

The King’s Indian Defense is an opening with a long history in chess. From its beginnings in the years 1851 until the mid-1930s, this opening inspired some mistrust as it went against the general principles of chess. However, thanks to the efforts of great Soviet players, the King’s Indian Defense gained a higher level of respect and became popular. Even world champions started playing it in key games.

Former world champions Mikhail Tal, Bobby Fischer, and Garry Kasparov incorporated such defense into their repertoire. However, in the early 2000s, the former Champion Vladimir Kramnik obtained excellent results against this defense, which affected the reputation and popularity of the King’s Indian Defense.

Currently, elite players such as Teimour Radjabov and Hikaru Nakamura play this defense regularly as part of their repertoire with quite respectable results.

Today I’d like to share with you a simple line in this universal chess opening that you can play as Black against White’s first move, 1.d4 (the Queen’s Pawn Game). If you are familiar with the King’s Indian Defense, I invite you to watch the following video. If not, then you can continue reading this article and then watch the video.

Now, let’s resolve some concerns that most chess players generally have about the King’s Indian Defense (KID).

The KID arises after the following moves: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6. It also arises in different move orders, transposing from other openings such as after 1.c4 or 1.Nf3.

King's Indian Defense

Is the King’s Indian a Good Defense?

The King’s Indian Defense is a hypermodern aggressive opening for Black against 1. d4. It has been recommended by many great masters throughout history and renowned authors have analyzed it in depth.

Even in today’s computer age, the King’s Indian Defense has proven to be a tough nut to crack. Different positions that the different chess engines consider to have a small advantage or even a clear advantage for White are difficult to demonstrate in practice.The key lies in the complexity of these positions or in the possibility of creating complexity. Generally, Black always has some kind of counterplay that keeps alive the options to play to win.

 

Is the King’s Indian Defense Good for Beginners?

King's Indian Defense

Despite its good reputation, the King’s Indian Defense is perhaps not the most appropriate opening for a complete beginner. Since you have to be prepared against your opponent’s great diversity of options, you have to be clear about the general plans, pawn structures that may arise, maneuvers, etc. Some lines can become very complicated. However, the line we are going to focus on in this post is an easier line that doesn’t require a lot of memorizing lines.

What is the Point of the King’s Indian Defense?

The main idea for Black is to let White gain initial space in the center, while Black develops minor pieces to attack the center later. As mentioned at the beginning, this strategy inspired mistrust as Black allows White to create the imposing pawn center.

One of the most used lines at the beginning of the KID was the Four Pawns Attack. And it was thought that with this strong center, White would gain an advantage. However, the practice has shown that Black has good resources to counterattack the center, and that it is White who has the responsibility of taking care of that center and not advancing it without creating weaknesses. Let’s take a look at the following chess game:

 

So, things are not as simple for White as we first thought. White’s pawn center was completely demolished and Black won in a pretty nice way.

As you may have noticed in this article, the KID is indeed an aggressive opening. But, what is it due to? Well, while it is true that Black attacks White’s pawn structure and generates counterplay, Black’s aggressiveness is based on attacking with his pawns and pieces on the kingside against White’s king.

White, for his part, attacks the queenside. And it is at this time that exciting battles of attacks on opposite flanks take place, in which each player fights to get to the opposite king first. In the classical variation, for example, very complicated positions are generated. Let’s look at an example.

 

In this post, you will learn an interesting sideline in the classical variation: 6…Bg4Β is not very known and, at the same time, very easy to learn. This way, you will have a great chance of surprising your opponents as you are driving them away from their opening preparation for the main variations of the KID. This variation also comes with many tricks you can use against your opponents, which works well for blitz games.

King's Indian Defense

Black’s main idea behind the 6…Bg4 move is to relieve their somewhat cramped position by exchanging their light-squared bishop (by playing Bxf3), which is often relegated to a passive role in the King’s Indian Defense. By exchanging this bishop for White’s f3-knight, the d4-pawn becomes an easy target of attack.

Let me show you now how you can play this interesting line with black.

Example # 1

 

Example # 2

 

Conclusion

The 6…Bg4 variation offers Black the chance to play a game very different from the classic games of the King’s Indian Defense. It is not necessary a great memorization of lines, but the understanding of the plans and critical squares to control.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

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