Two Ideas Against the King’s Indian Attack


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The King’s Indian Attack. Ever since I was a child, I had mixed feelings about it. The main reason – because there was never an attack.

Of course, I knew Fischer’s famous games where he was destroying his opponents (against Myagmarsuren is the most famous destruction), but when I would analyse a bit on my own I could never crash through Black’s kingside, especially if he played …h6 when White threatened to play h6 himself (for some reason they never played this against Fischer, always allowing him to push h6 (or …h3 when he was playing Black, for example in this game against Nikolic) and fatally weaken Black’s kingside).

When I decided to play the Attack myself (this was in 1995), guess what they played against me? …h6 of course, leaving me fuming and cursing myself. But somehow, I managed to push g4, threatening g5 and also I managed to play c4 and I won the game, but never dared to try the Attack again.

Then came times when the Attack was played against me. It is usually played when Black had already committed the pawn to e6, in my case after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3. d3, but then I was happy to use the harmonious development with 3…Nc6 4.g3 g6, followed by …Bg7,…Nge7 and …d6. It is still one of the best systems against it.

The Attack has recently had an increased importance because a lot of players use 1.Nf3 as a way to enter the Reti or some other opening, depending on Black’s choice. And many Black players rely on the QGD, so we often have something like 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 e6 4.0-0 Be7 and now White plays 5.d3, not wanting to go into Catalan waters with 5.d4 or Reti with 5.c4 or 5.b3. So Black continues 5…0-0 6 Nbd2 and we are on the verge of the King’s Indian Attack.

Looking at it from Black’s perspective I was attracted by Aronian’s choice of 6…Nc6, with the idea of 7.e4 dxe4 8.dxe4 e5! and there is a transformation in the position which is quite pleasant for Black. This is a good idea for Black, especially important is that it appears on the board early and it is Black who dictates the changes in the position! I recommended this idea as a reliable choice in my LTR QGD.

Another good idea comes from the fertile mind of Vladimir Kramnik.

His idea (not actually his, it has been played before but it was largely forgotten) is deeper, but at the same time, it is also universal.

It goes like this: Black pushes the pawn to a3, provoking b3 (Fischer didn’t allow this – he played a3 himself when Black threatened to push …a3. But Kramnik’s idea works in this case as well – it is only important to keep the bishop on c8, to have the pawn on e6 protected). Then, when White reaches h5 with his pawn, he plays …f5, stopping White’s kingside play in its tracks.

Here’s the position after 13…f5! from his game against Nepomniachtchi from the opening blitz in Zurich in 2017:

If White doesn’t take en passant then he has nothing on the kingside as Black’s pawn on f5 effectively kills off any hopes for an attack.

If he takes, he is worse after 14.exf6 Bxf6 when Black has better central control. Nepomniachtchi took and lost 12 moves later.

It is worth noting that Kramnik’s idea can also be implemented with a knight on e8 instead of d7, from where the knight can go to c7 to bolster e6.

So, there you go. In case you needed a reliable weapon against the misleadingly named King’s Indian Attack – now you have two!

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