Nakamura playing the KID, and defending his kingside pawn storm

May 19, 2011, 6:58 PM |

The following is a very common early position in the KID.















This position was seen in Game 1 of the Nakamura-Ponomariov match in St. Louis. Ponomariov managed to win this game in spite of aggressive play by Nakamura. Nakamura is known to aggressively attack the kingside with lots of pawn pushing from this position. How did Ponomariov defend this, and what plans did he make to win the game?

To see, we look at a game in which Nakamura won with his aggressive stratedgy. It was against Boris Gelfand in the 2010 WTC. Here, Nakamura manages to create a crushing attack on the kingside. Gelfand's first move from the above position was 9.Nd2. The knight is headed to c4 where the following position is reached.

















Here, the knights supports a pawn attack on the queenside. This crazy game featured both sides pushing pawns on opposite sides of the board. Here is the game. 


I would wager that Ponomariov was very aware of this attack, and had a concrete plan to combat Naka's aggressive play. Instead of a counter pawn attack on the queenside, he focuses his pieces on the center and waits till Nakamura's pawns advance somewhat, and breaks the center open. This leaves Nakamura's king exposed. He looses a knight and his position falls apart once the queens leave the board. 
Ponomariov's first move from our initial position is 9.Ne1. The knight is headed to d3, but not before he puts his black bishop on f2. The following position is reached.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I APOLOGIZE FOR THE FORMATT FROM HERE ON! NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES I PUT SPACES IN THE TEXT, THEY ARE ALWAYS ILLIMINATED WHEN IT IS POSTED. 
It is also of note that Ponomariov also has moved his pawn to meet Nakamura's attack somewhat. The full game follows.