Don’t Suffer a Meltdown vs 1.d4: Play the Queen’s Indian Defense

One of the best chess openings for Black against 1.d4 is undoubtedly the Queen’s Indian Defense. In chess, it’s rare to find a dependable defense with winning chances that is also easy to learn.

Play the Rock Solid Queens Indian Defense

The Queen’s Indian Defense provides a lot of flexibility and caters to many different playing styles.

Controlling the center with your pieces allows you to delay committing to a fixed pawn structure. Black can adjust his strategy according to White’s approach without any compromises in his own position.

Although it has a reputation for being extremely solid, the Queen’s Indian Defense in chess allows you to play for a win with Black in many variations.

Having a risk-free path to equality is not something to turn down when you are playing Black.

One of the world’s strongest QID players today is Richard Rapport. In this video, IM Hans Niemann shows us one of Richard Rapport’s victories against Andreikin with the Queen’s Indian Defense.

The Queen’s Indian Defense Fianchetto Variation

The most popular choice against the Queen’s Indian Defense by far is the Fianchetto Variation. This is played almost three times more frequently than the Petrosian Variation (4.a3).

In this variation, you can make use of the flexibility of the Queen’s Indian Defense and play the counter-intuitive 5…b5. It’s a perfectly playable line that eliminates a lot of theory and dry positions.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with playing solidly and if you prefer that approach you can instead meet 5.b3 with 5…Bb7. This flexibility is what makes the Queen’s Indian Defense one of the best chess openings for Black against 1.d4.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 b5

Fianchetto variation 5...b5
Queens Indian Defense Fianchetto variation 5…b5

Black’s intention is to exchange a wing pawn for a central pawn and create a change in structure. The overwhelming response from White is 6.cxb5, and after 6…Bxb5, Black has achieved his aim.

6.cxb5 Bxb5 7.Bg2 d5 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Nc3 Ba6 10.Re1 Bb4 11.Bd2

Queens Indian Defense Fianchetto Variation 11.Bd2
Queens Indian Defense Fianchetto Variation 11.Bd2

In this position, Black can choose between 11…0-0 and 11…c5. Alexander Beliavsky chose 11…0-0 and obtained an excellent middlegame position with active play for all his pieces.

Abramovic, Bosko – Beliavsky, Alexander G, 1/2-1/2, Nova Gorica op 05th, 2000

The Queen’s Indian Defense: Petrosian Variation (4.a3)

This variation is named after Tigran Petrosian, the ninth World Chess Champion.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3

Petrosian Variation Starting Position
Queens Indian Defense Petrosian Variation Starting Position

The idea behind 4.a3 is to play 4.Nc3 without allowing Black to play …Bb4. The Petrosian Variation became very popular after Kasparov‘s success with it in the 1980s.

Playing similar moves against different variations is what makes the Queen’s Indian Defense one of the best openings for Black against 1.d4. This is especially helpful if you can do it in the mainlines of a chess opening.

Black can meet 4.a3 with 4…Ba6.

4…Ba6 5.Qc2 Bb7 6.Nc3 c5 7.e4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Nb3 Nc6

Queens Indian Defense Petrosian Variation 9...Nc6
Queens Indian Defense Petrosian Variation 9…Nc6

In this position, Black has centralized pieces and bishops on excellent diagonals. White’s light-squared bishop is blocked by pawns on e4 and c4, giving it very few options. 

Take a look at how World Chess Champion challenger Fabiano Caruana played this position with Black.

Safarli, E. – Caruana, F., 1/2-1/2, Vugar Gashimov Mem 2016

The Queen’s Indian Defense: 4.Nc3

White can, of course, ignore the threat of …Bb4 and save a tempo by playing 4.Nc3 instead of 4.a3. Since the vast majority of Queen’s Indian Defense players also play the Nimzo-Indian Defense, meeting 4.Nc3 with 4…Bb4 saves you extra opening study.

This blend of the two defense begins with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Nc3 Bb4

4.Nc3 Bb4
Queens Indian Defense 4.Nc3 Bb4

In the mainline of this variation, White ignores the pin and threat of doubled pawns. Instead of dealing with the pin, White pins the knight on f6 with 5.Bg5. 

White is banking on his pin being more potent than the pin on the c3 knight.

Because Black hasn’t castled, nothing stops Black from breaking the pin immediately with …h6 and …g5.

5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 g5 7.Bg3 Ne4 8.Qc2 Bb7 9.e3 d6 10.Bd3 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Nxg3

Queens Indian Defense 11...Nxg3
Queens Indian Defense 11…Nxg3

No matter which pawn White recaptures with, Black is fine and can turn the tables on an over-ambitious White player. This is what Judit Polgar did against David Navara.

Navara, David – Polgar, Judit, 0-1, Prague Cez Trophy m, 2010

Final Thoughts

Chess openings where knowing strategy counts for more than cutting-edge theory are much easier to play and make the Queen’s Indian Defense one of the best chess openings for Black against 1.d4.

Although it has been around for many years, many of the world’s top chess players today have played the Queen’s Indian Defense. You can rest assured they wouldn’t play this opening if the best they could do was get a draw.

Even an opening as positional as the Queen’s Indian Defense has tactics which both sides must know. One of the best ways to learn these tactics is from the games of strong players.

IM Hans Niemann has included several games played by himself and others in his 80/20 Tactics Multiplier: The Queen’s Indian Defense. You will not only learn the tactics but see them used in games between top players.

Start playing one of the most reliable and best chess openings for Black today with help from IM Hans Niemann.

Click here for instant access with 50% Off! 80/20 Tactics Multiplier: The Queen’s Indian Defense

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