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The King's Indian Defense

FM Thomas Wolski Avg Rating: 1777 Openings

The King's Indian Defense - FM Thomas Wolski. This module contains 40 challenges chosen from all of the important systems in the King's Indian Defense and is suitable for players of all levels. You will learn all of the basic opening principles for both White and Black and also come across many original ideas and novelties. Players with Elo ratings up to 1800 and perhaps even higher will benefit from this course module. Novices may have some difficulty with these challenges, but will gain a good introduction to the King's Indian and the main strategies for both Black and White.

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  • The King's Indian Intro Challenge

    The King's Indian Defense is a fascinating opening that often promises uncompromising battles in the middle game. In this opening module we will cover all of the major systems of the King's Indian, many of them from both White's and Black's point of view. We will get to know the typical systems in which both sides castle kingside and where White tries to break through on the queenside before Black can manage any serious threats against White's king. We will also look at lines in which White castles...
  • The 9.b4 main line KID for White

    The Mar del Plata variation of the King's Indian Defense is considered the main line and encompasses a large volume of opening theory. The starting position of this variation is often reached after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 (or any other move order). White then has several interesting choices, of which 9.b4, 9.Nd2 and 9.Ne1 are predominant.
  • The 9.b4 system for Black

    The 9.b4 system didn't have a good reputation for a long time. But new ideas for White in the 1990s made it a serious weapon. The starting position is reached after the normal moves that we learned in the King's Indian Introduction challenge (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 or a similar move order).
  • The 9.Nd2 main line KID for White

    The Mar del Plata variation of the King's Indian Defense is considered the main line and encompasses a large volume of opening theory. The starting position of this variation is often reached after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 (or any other move order). White then has several interesting choices, of which 9.Nd2, 9.Ne1 and 9.b4 are predominant.
  • The 9.Nd2 system for Black

    The 9.Nd2 system has been popular for a few decades and was used many times on the highest international level, including World Championship games between Karpov and Kasparov. The starting position is reached after the normal moves that we learned in the King's Indian Introduction challenge (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 or a similar move order).
  • The 9.Ne1 main line KID for White

    The Mar del Plata variation of the King's Indian Defense is considered the main line and encompasses a large volume of opening theory. The starting position of this variation is often reached after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 (or a similar move order). White then has several interesting choices, of which 9.Ne1, 9.Nd2 and 9.b4 are predominant.
  • The 9.Ne1 system for Black

    The 9.Ne1 line is also heavily analyzed and can lead to very complex positions. Some theory lines extend over 20 moves in length. Our starting position is reached after the normal moves that we learned in the King's Indian Introduction challenge (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 or a similar move order).
  • The 9.Bd2 system for Black

    The 9.Bd2 system was fairly popular in the early 1970s, but has since taken the backseat compared to more popular lines such as 9.Nd2, 9.Ne1 and 9.b4. We will now see how former World Champion Bobby Fischer handled it from the Black side against Mark Taimanov in their 1971 encounter. Moving the dark-squared bishop to d2 connects White's queen with the a1-rook and hopes to play a quick b2-b4 and c4-c5. If White had developed this bishop with 9.Bg5, Black does well with 9...h6, e.g., 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.b4...
  • The Exchange Variation

    The Exchange Variation of the King's Indian Defense does not have a good reputation for White as it does not promise any chances for an advantage at all. It does have a very drawish tendency and thus poses potential problems for Black if he needs to play for a win at all costs. We will now be looking at a line for Black that promises maximum winning chances at no additional risk.
  • The 6...Nbd7 line for White

    Following the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 (or any similar move order), Black sometimes develops the queenside knight with 6...Nbd7. The main idea of this move is to prepare the ...e7-e5 pawn advance without having a knight on c6 run into a d4-d5 pawn push. After 7.0-0 e5, White would not benefit from advancing the d4-pawn to d5, since the d7-knight could then quickly occupy the attractive c5-square.
  • The 6...Nbd7 system for Black

    In the mainline King's Indian following the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 Black continued with the solid developing move 6...Nbd7 instead of the common 6...e5. This gets this knight in the way of Black's bishop on c8. But this bishop is not needed in the early action.
  • The 6...Na6 line for White

    Our starting position is usually reached with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 Na6. By playing 6...Na6 instead of the common 6...e5, Black avoids the heavily analyzed main lines of the King's Indian. Black will normally advance with ...e7-e5 a bit later to gain access to the c5-square for the a6-knight.
  • The 7.d5 system for White

    In the mainline King's Indian following the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 (or any other move order), White has just advanced his d-pawn with 7.d5. This changes the nature of the position considerably compared to the lines where White plays either 7.0-0 or 7.Be3. Black doesn't have the option to capture White's d-pawn with 7...exd4 anymore. Since the position is of a closed nature now, Black will typically seek active counter play on the kingside with ...f7-f5...
  • The 7.d5 system for Black

    In the mainline King's Indian following the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 (or any other move order), White has just advanced his d-pawn with 7.d5. This changes the nature of the position considerably compared to the lines where White plays either 7.0-0 or 7.Be3. Now Black doesn't have the option to capture White's d-pawn with 7...exd4 anymore.
  • The 7.Be3 system for White

    In the mainline King's Indian following the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 (or any other move order), White has several good choices. Usually he plays 7.0-0, when 7...Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 leads to the main line. We are also examining the consequences of 7.d5 in other challenges of this module. Now we will be looking at white's other good choice, 7.Be3.
  • The 7.Be3 system for Black

    In the mainline King's Indian following the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 (or any similar move order), White has just developed the dark-squared bishop with 7.Be3. This move adds support to White's d4-pawn and is a reasonable alternative to the main move 7.0-0 and the advance system 7.d5.
  • The 7...Na6 system for Black

    In the mainline King's Indian following the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 (or any other move order), Black has several alternatives to the mainline 7...Nc6. We are looking at the 7...Nbd7 and 7...exd4 lines in other challenges of this module. Now we will take a close look at the third option to develop the queenside knight, 7...Na6. Developing a knight to the rim of the board is always a bit suspect. But in this case Black has good chances to get this knight...
  • The 8.Be3 system for White

    Our starting position can be reached with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Be3 Ng4. There are two main differences to the 7.Be3 line, which we examine in another challenge. White has already castled kingside in this example and Black has already developed the queenside knight to c6.
  • The Averbach (6.Bg5) for White

    After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6, White can prepare to reach the Averbach system of the King's Indian by playing 5.Be2. The Averbach is a flexible system for White that allows him to go in many different directions afterwards. Often he can castle on either side of the board. White can play purely positional or try to launch a sharp kingside attack. This line is therefore suited to meet the preferences of most players.
  • The Averbach (6.Bg5) for Black

    The main characteristic of the Averbach is that White delays the development of the g1-knight for some time. This will allow White to control important squares such as g4 and h5 and take active measures on the kingside himself. White will often consider castling queenside in the Averbach.
  • The 5.Bg5 line

    Our starting position is usually reached with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Bg5 h6. The 5.Bg5 line is quite unusual and can quickly lead to lesser known positions. Play could, however, transpose to the Averbach (if White plays Be2 soon after) or to Saemisch-like positions if White plays f2-f3 in the early going.
  • The Four Pawns Attack for Black

    The Four Pawns Attack, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5,f4, has a reputation as being a very sharp and direct attempt to refute the King's Indian. By building a large pawn center with four pawns, White hopes to smother Black's attempts to get counter play in the center. The most noticeable difference to most other King's Indian systems is that White advances the f-pawn to f4 early on before developing a knight to f3. This shows that he hopes to play e4-e5 soon and also dreams of a kingside attack...
  • The Four Pawns Attack for White

    The Four Pawns Attack is considered one of the sharpest weapons against the King's Indian Defense. Play can be of a highly tactical nature and often White sacrifices a pawn in order to get active piece play and chances for a kingside attack. White's main asset is his space advantage in the center, which gives him more flexibility.
  • The 5.Bd3 line for White

    The 5.Bd3 line is one of the more promising lesser known alternatives to the main line King's Indian. Moving this bishop to d3 leaves the d4-pawn unprotected for a moment, but gives more support to e4. Delaying the development of the g1-knight gives White the option to advance the f-pawn in some cases and to move this knight to e2 instead of f3.
  • The 5.Bd3 line for Black

    The 5.Bd3 line is an interesting alternative to the main line King's Indian. Moving this bishop to d3 leaves the d4-pawn unprotected for a moment, but gives more support to e4. While this is quite a natural move, White almost always develops the light-squared bishop to e2 in the King's Indian.
  • The 5.h3 line for Black

    After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6, by playing 5.h3 in the King's Indian White maintains most of his options and makes it a little more difficult for Black to know what to expect. Sometimes White will plan to castle queenside and launch a quick kingside attack against Black's castled king. Other times, White chooses a very positional approach, when playing h2-h3 early on is a helpful move. The 5.h3 system also takes away Black's option to play an early ...Bg4.
  • The 5.h3 line for White

    Our starting position is usually reached with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.h3 0-0. The 5.h3 line doesn't have its own characteristics since it often combines different ideas from other systems. By controlling the g4-square, White can develop his c1-bishop to e3 without having to worry about Black playing ...Ng4. In some lines White can also advance with g2-g4 at the right time.
  • The 6.h3 line for Black

    The main difference of the 6.h3 system compared to playing h2-h3 a move earlier is that White has already developed the kingside knight to f3 and thus has fewer options to choose from. One of the main ideas of this line is to stop Black's 6...Bg4 system. In some situations, White may also want to advance with g2-g4 early on.
  • The Saemisch (5.f3) for White

    White can choose to play the Saemisch system of the King's Indian by playing 5.f3. The Saemisch is a solid and flexible system for White. Often he can castle on either side of the board. He can play purely positional or launch a sharp kingside attack at the right time by advancing the g-pawn to g4 and the h-pawn to h5 and then opening the h-file.
  • The Saemisch (5.f3) for Black

    The Saemisch is a very popular system within the King's Indian Defense. The Saemisch is a solid and flexible approach for White. Often he can castle on either side of the board. Typically play is of positional nature, but if White castles queenside both players can often attack each other's kings.
  • The g3 line for White

    Some players prefer to meet the King's Indian Defense with the solid fianchetto of the light-squared bishop to g2. In this system, White will usually play Nf3, g3 and Bg2 early on and then castle kingside. The main advantage of this line is that Black will find it very difficult to generate a kingside attack against White's castled king. Play will usually also be of a very positional nature, which is not to the liking of some King's Indian advocates who prefer sharp tactical slugfests.
  • The g3 line for Black

    The g3 King's Indian has a reputation of being a solid system that promises White reasonable chances for a positional advantage. Black will find it very difficult to generate a kingside attack against White's castled king using the normal ideas. We will now be looking at a dynamic system for Black that promises him chances for counter play on both sides of the board.
  • The 7...exd4 line for White

    Our starting position is usually reached with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 exd4. By playing 7...exd4 instead of the common 7...Nc6, Black avoids the heavily analyzed main lines of the King's Indian. White will now have a space advantage in the center due to his center pawns on c4 and e4 vs. Black's pawn on d6. But White has to play very carefully, since Black will have easy piece development and can get some temporary initiative.
  • The 6...Bg4 system for White

    Our starting position is usually reached with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 Bg4 or any similar move order. By playing 6...Bg4, Black pursues a very different plan than in many other King's Indians. Instead of hoping for a kingside attack against White's castled king later on, Black will try to trade off White's f3-knight for his light-squared bishop.
  • The 6...Bg4 system for Black

    After the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2, Black played 6...Bg4. This is not a truly King's Indian idea, but is borrowed from some Benoni lines where Black plays this move for two main reasons. One is to trade off this bishop for White's f3-knight and thus gain more control over the important center squares e5 and d4. The other reason is to avoid getting a cramped position where Black's pieces would be getting in the way of each other.
  • The Hungarian Attack (5.Nge2) for Black

    The Hungarian Attack, beginning with 5.Nge2, is a less explored system that can cause Black trouble if he isn't familiar with White's basic ideas. Typically White will continue with moves such as Ng3, Bg5 and h4-h5 to attack Black's castled king early on. In this challenge, White never gets very far with this plan as Black keeps him busy in the center. We are also looking at this system from White's point of view in another challenge.
  • The Hungarian Attack (5.Nge2) for White

    The Hungarian Attack, beginning with 5.Nge2, is a less explored system that can cause Black trouble if he isn't familiar with White's basic ideas. Typically White will try to generate an attack against Black's castled king in this line, but this challenge demonstrates that White is also perfectly placed to fight for a positional advantage in the center and on the queenside.
  • The 3.b4 approach for White

    Some players don't always like to play the highly theoretical main lines. Not only does one have to keep up to date with the latest developments in such lines, but one also has a good chance of surprising one's opponent by choosing a lesser known side line instead. We are now looking at such a line from White's point of view. Our starting position is usually reached after White plays c2-c4 and Ng1-f3 in the first two moves in either move order, e.g., 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.b4 Bg7.
  • The 5.Bf4 line for Black

    The starting position is usually reached via 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Nf3 0-0 5.Bf4. By playing 5.Bf4 instead of 5.e4, White avoids the main lines of the King's Indian and instead aims for a slow positional approach. White will usually continue with moves such as e2-e3, h2-h3, Be2 or Bd3 and kingside castling.
  • The 6...c5 King's Indian/Benoni hybrid

    After the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2, Black played 6...c5. This is not a truly King's Indian idea, but is borrowed from the Benoni where Black usually advances the c-pawn much earlier. If White then castled kingside, play could lead to the Maroczy line after 7.0-0 cxd4 8.Nxd4. Taking on c5 instead with 7.dxc5 leads to unclear play following 7...Qa5 8.0-0 dxc5 9.Bd2 Nc6. But White's most ambitious line is to advance the d-pawn with 7.d5. This gives White a lasting...

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