Chess Openings – King's Indian Attack

| 13 | Opening Theory

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Category – Flank Opening  

Opening Move Sequence – Can be reached through many move sequences

ECO Codes – Not relevant  

King's Indian Attack, often shortened to KIA, is more of a position or a system than a specific set of opening moves. It is played by White and involves placing the pieces in specific places. The pieces can be placed on those places using several different move sequences.   

The main position of King's Indian Attack features the following: pawns at d3, e4, and g3, fianchettoed f1 Bishop at g2, Queen-side Knight at d2, King-side Knight at f3, and Rook and King castled short. Other pieces usually occupy their starting places. This position can be achieved from 1.e4, 1.g3, 1.Nf3, or 1.d3 opening moves.  

Using the King's Indian Attack’s rather closed position, White player can strategically deploy several uniform tactics against Black opponents, following a variety of defenses in the course of the middle game. 

For instance, King's Indian Attack can be used against Black players who adapt an asymmetrical response to e4 using any one of the available defenses such as French Defense (1.e4 e6), Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5), or Caro-Kann Defense (1.e4 c6). It can also be deployed against Black players using common closed defenses in other openings.  

White can also transform King's Indian Attack position into variations in other openings such as Réti Opening (1.Nf3), Catalan Opening (1.d4 Nf6, 2.c4 e6 3.g3), English Opening (1.c4) and even such rare ones as Nimzo-Larsen Attack (1.Nf3 2.b3).  

Because King's Indian Attack can be used against variety of defenses, it is popular with players who have not yet mastered “the book” moves in some openings. To such players it offers security because if a player makes the wrong move due to ignorance of the move order, it can leave the player in a losing position. Of course, the player may also miss out on winning positions as well, in adapting this instead of following the book. This is because King's Indian Attack, though reliable, is not the most aggressive or winning solution for White in most openings. As a result it is rare in master play, where players are proficient in intricacies of openings.  

However, it has been used by players at highest level occasionally. Bobby Fisher in particular was a prominent exponent of King's Indian Attack. 

King's Indian Attack is of course distinct from King's Indian Defense (1.d4 Nf6, 2.c4 g6), which is a defense selected by Black in Queen’s pawn games. King's Indian Attack is in fact a mirror image of Black’s position in that defense. However, White in addition has an extra one move advantage referred in chess parlance as “the tempo”. Because of this, play in King's Indian Defense and King's Indian Attack differ.    

From the main position in King's Indian Attack, White can do several things; advance the e4 pawn to e5, create space in King-side to launch attacks, and attack the castled short Black King. Black in defending will make use of the space in Queen-side. King's Indian Attack games have exciting middle games due to unbalanced nature of space for both sides and clever mating combinations with several piece sacrifices. 

The following game from 1967, where Fischer (White) is playing against Myagmarsuren, will illustrate the potential of King's Indian Attack  

1.e4 e6, 2.d3 d5, 3.Nd2 Nf6, 4.g3 c5, 5.Bg2 Nc6, 6.Ngf3 Be7, 7.0-0 0-0, 8.e5 Nd7, 9.Re1 b5, 10.Nf1 b4, 11.h4 a5, 12.Bf4 a4, 13.a3 bxa3, 14.bxa3 Na5, 15.Ne3 Ba6, 16.Bh3 d4, 17.Nf1 Nb6, 18.Ng5 Nd5, 19.Bd2 Bxg5, 20.Bxg5 Qd7, 21.Qh5 Rfc8, 22.Nd2 Nc3, 23.Bf6 Qe8, 24.Ne4 g6, 25.Qg5 Nxe4, 26.Rxe4 c4, 27.h5 cxd3, 28.Rh4 Ra7, 29.Bg2 dxc2, 30.Qh6 Qf8, 31.Qxh7+, Black resigned. 

King's Indian Attack is hard to classify under the ECO or Encyclopedia of Chess Openings because that classification is based on the opening sequence of moves and King's Indian Attack does not have a specific sequence of moves.

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