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Openings for Tactical Players: Queen's Indian Defense

  • GM Gserper
  • | May 30, 2010

The Queen's Indian Defense is one of the most quiet positional openings. The World Champion Tigran Petrosian was one of the most positional chess players in the history of chess.  So what do you get when you cross the Queen's Indian Defense and a variation popularized by Tigran Petrosian? ( I know, it sounds like one of those silly jokes: Q: What do you get if you cross an elephant and a kangaroo? A: Big holes all over Australia! )

So, you might think that the Petrosian variation of the Queen's Indian is a boring positional line.  Well, there is a well known saying that there are no good or bad openings, there are just good or bad chess players.  Paraphrasing this smart observation, I can say that there are no boring openings, there are only boring chess players. If you don't believe me, try this little experiment. Choose the most boring opening you know and check the games where this dull opening was employed by such chess players as Tal, Shirov, Morozevich... I guarantee you that it will be an eye-opener! Speaking of the Petrosian variation of the Queen's Indian Defense ( 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 ) we can notice that the last move 4.a3 is a pure prophylaxis in the true spirit of great Tigran Petrosian.  This little pawn prevents Black's move Bb4 that pins Nc3. Since the Nc3 controls the all important central square e4, we can say that the 4.a3 move is a fight for the center! Now let's see how in the beginning of the 1980-ies Garry Kasparov turned a quiet opening into the chess version of a nuclear weapon.  His recipe was deceptively simple: get a strong pawn center, sacrifice a piece somewhere in the area where the Black King resides and... checkmate!

I want to show you some of Kasparov's games where he completely demolished his opponents (strong Grandmasters!) using the Petrosian Variation.

Just like in all my articles I give you a chance to test your attacking skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".




I hope you enjoyed these four attacking masterpieces. Even if you don't make the Petrosian variation a part of your opening repertoire, I still recommend you to deeply analyze the way Kasparov conducted his attacks.  This method (the d5 break followed by a piece sacrifice on the King's side) is pretty typical for positions where you have a strong pawn center and a pair of Bishops looking towards your opponent's King.  So, if you ever get a similar situation in your own game, now you know what to do.
Good luck!


  • 23 months ago


    Our group is devoted to exclusively learning the QID in a cooperative learning environment through our Forums and Vote Chess discussions.
    Everyone here is invited to join the...

    Just click the Black Queen to join.
  • 4 years ago


    Like Gheorghiu Florin, I have got such Queen's side pawn link and after critical fight for d5 square with many exchanges (which fight i schould have lost), this pawn structure lead me to win. Fortunately it was'nt the big Kasparov who faced to me ...

  • 5 years ago


    even i play queen's indian.

    it is good and i have never faced petrosian variation.

  • 5 years ago


    strong play

  • 5 years ago


    thank you very much for taking the time to write this article :)

    i learned a lot.

  • 5 years ago


  • 5 years ago


    Thanks Gserper for another great article. I think this series is by far the most instructive and well written on chess.com, and are really the main reason I come back to this site :)

  • 5 years ago


    Thanx puefla
  • 5 years ago


    complex but great

  • 5 years ago


    amitprabhale wrote:.. tell me wht wud hv happ'nd if Black plays 35. ...Qc3

    36. Qd5+ Ke2
    37. Qe4+ Qe3
    38. Qxe3#

  • 5 years ago


    again a nice article; but plz tell me wht wud hv happ'nd if Black plays 35. ...Qc3
  • 5 years ago


    it is an excellent work of you.


  • 5 years ago


    Enjoyed! Thanks.

  • 5 years ago


    Wow...THis guy was not a World champion for nothing....

  • 5 years ago


    thanks 4 d good article! always instructive

  • 5 years ago


    Nice article.  The last two boards were especially cool.

  • 5 years ago


    As usual, an excellent article.

  • 5 years ago


    The opening is certainly an excellent choice. However, don't forget that the one who played those combos is Kasparov and not one of us patzers. And compared to Garry, everybody on this website is a patzer. :)

  • 5 years ago


    Thanks you a lot

  • 5 years ago


    I would just like to thank you. I read every article you write, and almost without exception I have been impressed with the ideas and the material that you present to us, your humble audience. I have learned quite alot by broadening my repetoire under your guidance. I highly recommend to anyone reading this, to really spend some time playing serious games using the ideas in these articles, and then no matter what direction you decide to take your openings, you will be a better prepared chess player!

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