| 17 | Tactics

Exactly 20 years ago, in 1991, I was playing the Soviet Championship Under-26 years old. This was an invitational tournament for the top Soviet players and not surprisingly all participants of that tournament later became Grandmasters. One of the most fascinating players was a young master who eventually tied for the first place. You have probably heard his name: Vladimir Kramnik.  Even though I played in the same tournaments as Vladimir before and after that Championship, this one was the most interesting because in 1989 (when I saw him for the first time) Vladimir was just a promising young master and later he was already the world's top player. Meanwhile in 1991 I was able to see a monster chess player in the making, so I didn't miss any opportunity to analyze games and discuss general chess concepts with him.  Once he showed me the next weird-looking position and asked my opinion.

The first 5-10 seconds my impression was just awful.  White has completely ruined his King's side and created the permanent hole on the 'd4' square. Was it played by a beginner?  But then, of course I recognized the familiar position of the Sveshnikov Variation of the Sicilian Defense with reversed colors. Here it is:

Vladimir could see all my facial expressions, so before I opened my mouth to say "Wow!" he told me that he learned this little trick from one of the older Soviet GMs (unfortunately at that point I was in such a state of shock that I forgot the name right away) and it demonstrates that sometimes we play an opening just because it is popular without actually realizing what's really going on there. Also it shows how difficult it was for Sveshnikov to overcome all the prejudice and start playing this 'ugly' variation. Also Vladimir said that he used this trick sometimes to check the openings he played. Of course the Sveshnikov Sicilian was one of his main openings at that point. Literally the same day we had this interesting conversation Kramnik won this little gem:
(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your attacking skills, so the game is 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".)
Vladimir Kramnik was not the only player who used this little trick to perfect his openings. His great predecessor Robert James Fischer played the King's Indian Defense throughout his whole chess career and apparently loved it so much that he tried to play it with White as well! Judge for yourself:

Fischer's numerous wins made this 'reversed King's Indian Defense' very popular and the opening got the name "King's Indian Attack," which is quite funny in my opinion. This is basically the same opening, but since in most openings Black should defend his position, it's called "King's Indian Defense", but White usually attacks in the beginning of the game, hence "King's Indian Attack".
The "King's Indian Attack" or KIA can be played against practically any opening but it works best against the Sicilian with 2...e6 and the French since there White gets an opportunity to establish a powerful e5 pawn; and using this stronghold in the center starts a King's side attack. The next two games show one of the typical ideas of pushing the 'h' pawn to create weaknesses on the King's Side.  By the way, if the reversed "King's Indian Defense" is called "King's Indian Attack," then what do you call a reversed "King's Indian Attack"? It is not "King's Indian Defense" anymore for sure, but what is it?  I don't know, but I tried to follow Fischer's footsteps when I faced one of the trickiest US players.  He played the Sokolsky Opening and you can see here how dangerous this opening can be:
 Compare the next two games and see how you can borrow opening ideas:
As you could see the King's Indian Attack/Defense is a very complex and useful opening set-up that you can employ in a wide variety of different openings.
We will discuss this opening in more details next week!
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