Taking Down the Powerful King’s Indian Defense

It pays to have more than one weapon when it comes to playing against the King’s Indian Defense. Here are two ways to play against the King’s Indian Defense.

How to Face the Kings Indian Defense

The King’s Indian Defense is a counter-attacking chess opening and one it is best not to take lightly. Played with success by two of the greatest chess players of all time – Kasparov and Fischer – it pays to be wary of the dangers hidden within this defense.

Although both ways to face the KID are attacking approaches, one method is a lot more conventional than the other. You won’t need to keep the unconventional attack solely for blitz or rapid chess games.

The unconventional way results after 3.h4 and is played by strong players today, including Grischuk, MVL, Jobava, and Rapport. We’ll discuss this later in the article.

First, in this video, GM Ivan Sokolov shares the more conventional approach with 8.g4 for beating the King’s Indian Defense.

The More Conventional Approach With 8.g4

The approach suggested by GM Ivan Sokolov, against the King’s Indian Defense opening, often involves the h4-h5 advance along with g4. Unlike many lines by white, instead of seeking counterplay on the queenside, a direct attack is launched on the kingside.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Be3 e5

Kings Indian Defense 6...e5
Kings Indian Defense 6…e5

This is the most commonly played move and leads to exciting positions—the advantage of the 5.Be2 and 6.Be3 approach is that you can play it in an attacking or positional manner.

Even if the pawn storm approach might theoretically give white a greater edge, there is nothing wrong with playing in a more restrained fashion. Instead of sacrificing a pawn on g4, you can defend it with h3, play Qd2, Bd1-c2, Ne2, and 0-0-0. 

7.d5 Na6 8.g4 Nc5 9.f3 h5 10.h4 hxg4 11.b4 Na6

Kings Indian Defense 11...Na6
Kings Indian Defense 11…Na6

Now two of White’s pawns are under attack – f3 and b4. Since White aims to open lines on the kingside, it makes sense to defend b4 with a3.

Defending b4 with a3 gives white the option of bringing the rook over to the kingside with Ra2-g2 or h2.

This rook development is an unusual maneuver, so be sure to keep it in mind.  Another important move to keep in mind is to meet 12….hxg4 with Bg5. 

If black continues to grab pawns with 13…gxf3, recapture the pawn with 14.Bxf3 and bring your knight into play with Nge2. The knight on e2 defends the knight on c3, which was left unprotected after b4.

Despite the exposed position of the white king, there is no need for concern.  The only piece likely to threaten White’s king is the black queen, and there are more defenders around the king than attackers.

Demidov, M. – Ulko, J., 2019.02.26, 1-0, Aeroflot Open B Round 8.11, Moscow RUS

Black Plays 7…a5

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 a5

Kings Indian Defense chess opening with 7...a5
Kings Indian Defense 7…a5

7…a5 is Black’s second most popular move. The drawback is that unlike 7…Na6 and 8…Nc5 there is no extra pressure placed on White’s e4-pawn. 

The lack of pressure against the pawn gives White the extra tempo he needs to attack the f6-knight.

8.g4 Na6 9.g5 Nd7 10.h4 Ndc5 11.Qd2 c6 12.f3

Kings Indian Defense 12.f3
Kings Indian Defense 12.f3

In this variation of the King’s Indian Defense opening, White will develop the knight with Nh3-f2. From the f2-square the knight can enter the game through e4 or g4.

A vital defender is Black’s light-squared bishop and if it gets exchanged for a white knight the light squares around the black king will remain weak.

Crucial for White to remember is to keep Black’s dark-squared bishop stuck behind a pawn on e5!

In the King’s Indian Defense chess opening, there are many opening variations where Black sacrifices material on f4 to open the long diagonal. Even if you get the chance to win an exchange it usually is not worth accepting the extra material.

Enjoy playing with the space advantage and a clear middlegame strategy. When your strategy is to direct an attack against the king enjoying the middlegame is easy.

King’s Indian Defense Chess Opening: The Basman-Williams Attack With 3.h4

Continuing our theme of attacking play against the King’s Indian Defense, we are opening lines with GM Simon William’s friend, Harry the h-pawn. This approach is anything but standard, yet it remains highly effective.

The Basman-Williams Attack is sure to take your opponents by surprise. They are unlikely to expect h4 as early as move 3! 

What makes the Basman-Williams Attack more attractive is that you can use it against the King’s Indian Defense and other openings that use a kingside fianchetto. For example, this attack works well against the Grunfeld Defense and Benoni openings.  

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 0-0 6.Be2

Basman Williams Attack Starting Position
Basman Williams Attack Starting Position

Although 3.h4 looks like we are adopting a caveman approach and simply want to rip open lines, there are quieter goals behind the move. When faced with the threat of h5, Black will often make weakening pawn moves on the kingside.

Typical examples of these moves in the King’s Indian Defense opening are …h5 to prevent the white pawn from advancing and …h6 intending to meet h5 with …g5.

Against 6…h6, a good continuation is 7.g4 c5 8.d5 with the threat of g5 and h5 forcing the black knight to retreat. 

Another typical developing move for black in the King’s Indian Defense opening is …Nbd7 when we go from opening lines to restricting pieces. 6…Nbd7 is met with 7.h5 e5 8.d5 Nc5 9.h6 Bh8 10.Bg5 followed by g4 to clamp down on the f5 square.

Controlling the f5-square deprives black of an important pawn break and helps keep black tied down.

Checkmate is not the only winning chess strategy.

King’s Indian Defense Basman Williams Attack With 6…h5

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 0-0 6.Be2 h5

Basman Williams Attack 6...h5
Basman Williams Attack 6…h5

This move is a natural move with one obvious drawback – it weakens the g5-square. As tempting as it is to place a bishop on g5, there is no need to rush to occupy g5.

Even if you follow an unorthodox approach against the King’s Indian Defense, the chess opening principles still apply. Grischuk realized this and played the natural developing move 7.Nf3.

Later on, it was the knight that found itself on g5.

7.Nf3 c5 8.d5 e6 9.Bf4 Re8 10.Ng5 exd5 11.exd5 a6 12.0-0

Basman Williams Attack 12.0 0
Basman Williams Attack 12.0 0

This is an exciting middlegame position with chances for both sides. Alexander Grischuk came out on top in his game against Peter Svidler.

Alexander Grischuk – Peter Svidler, 2021.05.25, 1-0, FTX Crypto Cup Round 11.6, chess24.com INT

King’s Indian Defense Basman Williams Attack With 6…c5

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.h4 Bg7 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 0-0 6.Be2 c5

Basman Williams Attack 6...c5
Basman Williams Attack 6…c5

The …c5 advance is a standard pawn break in the King’s Indian Defense, but it soon leads to opening positions more common in the Benoni Defense. Getting your opponent into a different opening will give you an edge.

7.d5 e6 8.h5 exd5 9.exd5 Re8 10.h6 Bh8 11.Bg5 Qb6 12.b3

Basman Williams Attack 12.b3
Basman Williams Attack 12.b3

On the surface, it appears that 12.b3 weakens the a1-h8 and a5-e1 diagonals, but black cannot take advantage of either. Thanks to the pawn on h6, if black wins the exchange on a1, white will threaten checkmate after Qxa1.

This checkmate threat is hard to counter with the bishop on g5 adding to White’s control of f6. 

The white king can escape from pressure on the a5-e1 diagonal by calmly stepping to f1, or the bishop can return to d2 if needed.

Grischuk has certainly embraced the Basman-Williams Attack as an effective weapon against the King’s Indian Defense opening.

Alexander Grischuk – Boris Gelfand, 2019.08.03, 1-0, Levitov Chess Week Round 3.2, Amsterdam NED

In Conclusion

Break from the traditional approach of playing on the queenside against the King’s Indian Defense opening. Instead of allowing Black to attack on the kingside and create threats against the king, turn the tables and make the black king sweat.

Although not well-known the Basman-Williams Attack is worth having in your repertoire as it will prove an effective weapon against all kingside fianchetto defense.  

Apart from its theoretical soundness you will catch many opponents by surprise and make them use up time early in the game. How many openings do you play where you can take your opponents into unfamiliar territory as early as move three?

There is a lot more of GM Sokolov’s wisdom in his 15-hour Master Method course than merely taking down the King’s Indian Defense opening.

Along with opening advice, he covers the psychological side of chess by offering guidance on what to do when you blunder. Fortunately, you will find yourself playing less of them after learning from GM Sokolov.

This course would not be complete if it neglected essential middlegame and endgame techniques. What you learn will ensure you become a stronger player in both these phases along with the opening.

Now you can get the full course for half the regular price. Get instant access while saving 50% on “The Sokolov Method” and upgrade your chess today!

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