Forever a Kid #1: E80 Samisch

Dec 22, 2009, 11:09 PM |

A blog dedicated to the intricacies and beauties of the King's Indian Defense

Recommended for intermediate players or anyone interested in playing the King's Indian Defense as Black.


Hi, I'm Shuttlechess92. Today is the debut of my new blog, "Forever a KID," in which I will attempt to teach glimpses of the King's Indian Defense in an effort to increase its popularity. I might first point out that the "KID" was a fixture in the opening repertoires of greats by the likes of Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov, Leonid, Stein, and Teimour Radjabov.

Today we will be looking at a subvariation of the King's Indian Defense known as the

(E80 Saemisch variation)

note: "E80" is a numerical term given to openings similar to the Dewey Decimal classification system in libraries that allow chess players to abbreviate and classify openings.


Take a look at the diagram below:



White just played 5. f3 .   What does this move do? Aren't we told to develop pieces before making so many pawn moves? In fact, White has made 4 pawn moves within his first 5 moves. Thus, perhaps f3 could be thematically rebellious? As we will see, it is not as simple as that.

Pros of f3:

  • strengthens e4, which in turns strengthens the pawn center White had spent so many moves to create.
  • prepares a dangerous kingside pawn storm - (the pawn moves g4, h4, and subsequently h5 are to follow)

Cons of f3:

  • With the pawn moved to f3, White has deprived his kingside knight of using the f3 square, meaning that it would have to develop via Nge2, which in turn makes it hard for the light bishop to develop. In a nut shell: f3 hinders piece development
  • White has weakened the dark squares in the center. Take a look at the e3 square. Had the f3 pawn still be resting on f2, e3 would have been "attacked" by that pawn. Now that the pawn is no longer on f2, the square is no longer attacked by pawns and hence one can make the assumption that one of Black's motifs is to take control of the dark central squares.

For those of you readers who have some chess experience on your belts, you may recognize f3 from another opening: Sicilian Defense Dragon: Yugoslav Variation. The ideas are very similar in terms of attacking plans and piece setups. Consider the following game:


So what did we learn from that game?
  1. White's attack by ripping open the h-file is dangerous, especially if Black makes his job easier.
  2. Pawn storms are very sharp and rather difficult to play.
OK, so if White gains such a vicious attack, then why am I advocating this opening? Well, as I said in the game, two openings lead to 2 very different games. Don't believe me? Let's take a look:
This is the thematic position of the Saemisch variation in the KID.

Note the differences between this and the previous game. While white does indeed threaten the familiar g4, h5 pawn storm, the pawn center actually could be seen as a disadvantage. White can no longer put his light bishop on c4 as he did in the previous game, and Black is 1 tempo up than in the previous game - minus the open c file.

Bottomline: The extra c4 pawn is both a positive and negative asset: White has more control over d5, but on the other hand, he can not put his light bishop there and Black may actually use it to help open lines against a queenside castled king.
After 5...0-0 6. Be3 Black has several strong moves:
Now let's take a look at a game I have played in the KID: Saemisch. While I certainly am not a master, I believe it is more helpful to post my own games because
  1. You could find master games and annotations at any games database site.
  2. The fact that it is a game I played means that I could tell the exact thoughts going through my mind during the game.
You have finished this article - Congratulations! You hopefully have a better understanding of King's Indian themes in the Saemisch - as well as some opening trinkets to try out in your next blitz game. For now, that's all for me.
Hope you enjoyed this blog and stay tuned for more coverage on the King's Indian.