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Openings for Tactical Players: Queen's Indian Defense

Openings for Tactical Players: Queen's Indian Defense

May 30, 2010, 12:00 AM 27,266 Reads 39 Comments Tactics

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!

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