Openings for Tactical Players: King's Indian Defense

  • GM Gserper
  • | Jun 6, 2010

It's difficult to find a more agressive opening against 1.d4 than the King's Indian Defense (KID).  As most of the hyper-modern openings, it voluntarily gives up the center in order to attack it later.  But unlike many other openings with a similar concept (like the Grunfeld Defense for example), in most of the cases the real target of the opening is White's King. It shouldn't come as a big surprise if you know that credit for the development of this opening goes to three Grandmasters famous for their fierce attacks: David Bronstein, Isaac Boleslavsky and Efim Geller. The King's Indian Defense was always very popular amongst all kinds of chess players from beginners to World Champions.  Three of them (Mikhail Tal, Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov) used the KID as their main weapon against 1.d4 for the significant part of their chess career.

This is one of those openings where you really need to understand the spirit of the opening rather than memorize particular moves.  The lack of knowledge of the typical ideas can quickly turn a promising attacking position into a passive nightmare. That's why if you want to learn this exciting opening, analyze the games played by the above-mentioned players.  It will help you more than countless opening books.  Here is a simple example.  Say you want to get some ideas about the KID and check an article about it on Wikipedia.  Describing the opening, it says: " Play goes 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6! ".  Impressed by the exclaim after the last Black move 4...d6, you might think that it is the best and only way to play the KID. But let's look at the next game of Fischer (Please remember that like in most of my articles, the games are given as tactical exercises but you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)



As it turns out, 4...d6 is not the only move and 4...0-0 is not worse at all.  The point here is not to disparage Wikipedia or the nameless author of that article who did a decent job.  It just shows that when we talk about chess in general or the KID in particular, there are not many sources that understand the subject better than Fischer, Tal or Kasparov.  And talking about Tal, the game I want to show you is typical for him.  Your computer will probably tell you that the attack was unsound, but as Tal himself said more than once: "Analysis after the game and a real game are two completely different things."  I cannot agree more and doubt that many chess players would be able to withstand his vicious attack in the next game.
Garry Kasparov played the KID starting from his first tournaments in his Pioneer's Palace till the World Chamionship matches. He created many masterpieces there, like the next one:
The last game I want to present wasn't played by World Champions (just by two strong GMs). But it demonstrates very well why the KID wins many hearts among chess players.
If you like to attack and never played the KID (is it even possible?), do yourself a favor and try it. You'll be in a good company!
Good luck!


  • 3 weeks ago


    Thank you.  I was working through the first game Letelier vs Fischer.  Now I see what it means to lure the white pawns forward and then to destroy them.  I don't understand 13 Qb1, though, I think white started to lose the plot around there.


    I tried to work through the Tal and Kasparov games, but those are too deep for me!!  I suppose more study required.

  • 2 years ago


    Everyone here is invited to join...
  • 3 years ago


    One of my favourite openings.

  • 5 years ago


    now i am a die hard fan pd KID...its gonna be my black opening againstn  d4 :)thnx for sharing!!

  • 6 years ago


    I like to play aggresively, but I don't play the KID, I play Nimzo Indian defence or the QGA, but maybe I'll look into the KID...

  • 6 years ago


    I don't understand why 13. Kf2 in the Tal game .

    What's the problem with cxb7 or Nc2 ?

  • 6 years ago


    Impossible, that's me. I'm something of a beginner. I've played some openings over the last five months. I am rather over due. Yes I will play the KID. Thanks for sparking my interest.

  • 6 years ago


    kid is not preferred now a days at high level

  • 6 years ago


    it was good

  • 6 years ago


    For all asking about why white doesn't play Kxf4 after Qf4+ on move 24 in the first game ...


    24. Qf4 Kxf4

    25. Bh6#

  • 6 years ago


    I didnt know this Tal game..Magnificent!The whole collection is a very distinctive example on the black side of the K.I.D.Maybe it would be more complete with a game or two of Bronstein... :)

  • 6 years ago


    KID kicks butt. I play it.

  • 6 years ago


    I play th KID, and it kicks opponent butt

  • 6 years ago


    Really interesting article. However, with regard to "It's difficult to find a more agressive opening against 1.d4 than the King's Indian Defense (KID)." I think that 1....d5 with an aim to playing the Albin Counter Gambit is much more aggressive. I'm still not at all convinced it's entirely unsound; at least for those of us who are not GMs and will never play Fischer or Tal...

    With respect,

    Dr. Mike Mandel

  • 6 years ago


    What happens in the first example if white takes the black queen with the white king?? 24.

  • 6 years ago


    great article. thank you for sharing.

  • 6 years ago


    can sum help me out if the kid turns into the pirc.. why not just play the pirc?

  • 6 years ago


    to ras 1980; if Qxf4 , then Bh6. mate. ciao !

  • 6 years ago


    Great article! I love facing the KID as white with the Bayonet Attack but never ever had an opponent play 4...0-0 against me instead of 4...d6. Before seeing this article I wouldve probably played e5 but now ill think twice :) Ive tried the KID (with d6) as black before but now im beginning to experiment with both the Stonewall and Leningrad Dutch :P

    How about an article on a variation of the Stonewall or Leningrad Dutch sometime =D?

  • 6 years ago


    The game Letelier, René vs. Fischer, Robert J was dubbed  A Queen for the King. René Letelier was the first Chilean player to become IM. 

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