Understand the Queen’s Indian Defense

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Modern Chess


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This product includes all the videos and detailed PGN files from an online workshop held by Modern Chess in April 2022. Overall, the material consists of approximately 6 hours of video and a PGN database which includes 78 files! 

You will find the following lectures:

1) Typical Structures in the Main Line with 4.g3 

2) Typical Structures in the Petrosian System (4.a3)

3) 4.e3 & Rare Systems – Must-Know Positional and Tactical Ideas

4) Theoretical Preparation

Preview by GM Grigor Grigorov

The Queen’s Indian Defence has always been one of my favorite weapons against 1.d4. This opening has served me well for many years already. Besides being entirely sound, the Queen’s Indian Defence does not oblige you to memorize tons of theory. You can play most of the positions mainly relying on your understanding.

Another important feature of this opening is the flexibility of the pawn structure. Depending on White’s setup, Black can opt for a variety of classical pawn structures. Hence, when you study the Queen’s Indian Defence, you actually improve your general chess understanding. Many ideas that you will learn here can be applied in classical openings like the Nimzo-Indian Defence, Bogo-Indian Defence, and the Queen’s Gambit Declined.

My Queen’s Indian journey has never been flawless. Trying to understand the subtleties of this opening, I have committed many instructive mistakes. I gave my best to share my understanding with you in this course. While preparing the material, I had three guidelines:

1) provide positionally and theoretically sound systems

2) avoid lines that require a lot of memorization

3) consistency in the choice of variations (I have tried to choose lines that are interrelated)

What will you learn from this course?

Typical Structures in the Main Line with 4.g3

The first part of the course is dedicated to the structures arising in the classical system – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3

Vs g3 System

Statistically speaking,  4.g3 is White’s most popular choice. The precise handling of this system requires subtle positional understanding from both sides. GM Grigoriov’s favourite reaction to 4.g3 is 4…Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.0-0 0-0

Vs g3 System 2

This is the first important tabiya for us. When looking at this position, one can easily see two important features:

1) Black can attack the center in three ways – …c7-c5, …d7-d5,  and …e6-e5

2) The the control of the e4-square will be very important for both sides

Depending on how Black decides to strike in the center, we will get entirely different pawn structures. Since the advance …d7-d5 will often take us to QGD type of play, in this course GM Grigoriov mostly focuses on the remaining two pawn breaks. We will play …d7-d5 only under favorable circumstances.

In the beginning, I start examining the typical structures arising after the break …e6-e5. Obviously, Black should prepare this central advance by means of …d7-d6. Very often, before going for …e6-e5, Black had already played ..  .f7-f5 in order to increase the control of the important e4-square. If White answers …e6-e5 with d4-d5, we get a King’s Indian type of closed center.  When looking at the model games, you will see that this structure is usually favorable for Black. Sometimes, instead of playing d4-d5, White prefers to keep the central tension. Therefore, in my annotations, I also explain how to handle the structure with exchanged “e” and “d” pawns (for example after …  exd4). After explaining all the subtleties related to the positions with a closed center, I cover another important positional element – the fight for the e4-square. If you understand the logic of this battle, you will immediately get a better feeling of the entire opening.

As you will see, very often White attacks the center with …c7-c5. Depending on White’s reaction,  different structures can be reached.

1) Hedgehog structure that arises when  White allows …cxd4

2) Benoni structure arising when White answers …c7-c5  with d4-d5

3) The so-called dxc5 …bxc5 type of structure

In the model games,  I explain all the details related to these structures. Read carefully the text explanations of the model games. They are way more important than the concrete theory! After covering these basic structures, I proceed with a typical Queen’s Indian concept – Setups with …Nc6 and …Bf6.

Typical Structures in the Petrosian System (4.a3)

In the second part of the course, we start dealing with the typical structures in the so-called Petrosian System.  This variation arises after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3

Petrosian System

As a matter of fact, this little pawn move contributes to the fight for the e4-square. The idea is to prevent …Bb4 in response to Nc3. Petrosian System has always been popular at any level. Since  White does not take too much of a risk, it’s not easy for Black to get a  playable position with chances for a win. After many considerations, GM Grigoriov decided to settle for 4…Bb7 5.Nc3 Ne4

Petrosian System 2

Recently, this rare move has been played at the highest level by the Hungarian grandmaster Richard Rapport. Besides fighting for the e4-square, Black keeps the pawn structure flexible. Instead of 5…Ne4,  Black usually plays 5…d5. I decided not to suggest this move because in many cases the play reminds Queen’s Gambit Declined.

As I have pointed out in the introduction, I tried to suggest systems that are consistent with my other recommendations. The central position of this system arises after 6.Nxe4 Bxe4

Petrosian System 3

At this point, White has three main moves – 7.Nd27.Bf47.e3. The common feature of all these systems is that White usually manages to push his e-pawn to e4. On the other hand, having already exchanged a pair of knights, Black is not too concerned about the lack of space.

In the model games, I suggest different strategies for attacking the white center. After studying the material,  you will know whether to break with …c7-c5 or …e6-e5. Additionally, you will know in which cases you need to wait when none of the breaks work well.  Besides covering all the typical pawn structures, the model games will provide you with a complete repertoire against the Petrosian System. In my opinion, this is one of the best systems if you want to play for a win with Black.

4.e3 & Rare Systems – Must-Know Positional and Tactical Ideas

After covering the typical structures arising in the most important lines, I  start dealing with the remaining variations. Since the examined systems are perfectly sound and playable, I cannot call them sidelines.  Let’s take a look at the starting position of the Queen’s Indian Defence arising after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6.

One of the most important alternatives to the main lines is 4.e3. This move leads to slow positional play where the understanding of the typical structures is more important than the concrete theoretical knowledge.

Another important system that is covered in this part is 4.Nc3 Bb7 5.Bg5


This is one of White’s most solid systems against the Queen’s Indian  Defence. For the time being, White is planning to just develop his pieces as quickly as possible. If Black plays …d7-d5, we reach a famous position from  Queen’s Gambit Declined. In this case, the main suggestion is based on 5…Be7 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 0-0

4.Nc3 2

Black is planning to attack the center by means of the advance …c7-c5. If White allows …cxd4, we will get either Hedgehog or IQP type of structure. In his comments, GM Grigoriov explains why these structures are favorable for Black. White mostly takes on c5, thus reaching an interesting version of the dxc5 …bxc5 structure (covered in Part 1). Grigoriov provides extensive coverage of the typical plans and ideas in this structure.

The move 4.Bf4 leads to the so-called Miles System. By making a useful waiting move, White keeps flexible his options of developing the b1-knight. The suggestion here is 4…Bb7 5.e3 Bb4+


This check is very important. White’s main move here is 6.Nfd2. In one of the model games, I explain how to handle the structure arising after 6.Nc3 Ne4 7.Qc2 0-0 8.Bd3 f5 9.0-0 Bxc3 10.bxc3 d6. The understanding of this structure will help you to master a wide range of Nimzo-Indian positions as well.

One of the ideas behind 5…Bb4 is to answer 6.Nbd2 with 6…Be7. Having provoked Nbd2, Black is now ready to strike with …c7-c5. With the white knight being on d2, instead of c3, meeting …c7-c5 with d4-d5 would be impossible.

After the main move 6.Nfd2, my suggestion is 6…0-0 7.a3 Bd6!?

Bf4 2

This extremely rare approach advocated by  Eljanov manages to solve Black’s opening problems. After exchanging the dark-squared bishops, Black is ready to strike in the center with …c7-c5.  Additionally, I explain the structures arising after 8.Bxd6 and 8.Bg5.

The central position of the 4.e3 system arises after 4…Bb7 5.Nc3 d5 6.cxd5 exd5.

e3 System

This is one of the most important pawn structures that you should remember from this part of the course. White usually proceeds with Bd3 and 0-0 followed by b2-b3, and Bb2.

I explain in great detail all the subtleties related to this pawn structure. Additionally, the model games cover  White’s move order is based on 7.Bb5+ with the idea to provoke …c7-c6. As you will witness, such a small detail can provoke drastic changes in the plans and ideas. Besides, I explain how to handle the positions where White keeps the tension by refraining from cxd5.

Theoretical Preparation

In the theoretical section, I explain the most important systems that are not covered in the sections dedicated to the different pawn structures. Even though I tried to provide extensive theoretical coverage, some minor lines might be still missing. If you know all the typical pawn structures, that wouldn’t be a problem. When possible, I have always tried to base my analysis on familiar structures. In the analysis, you will find many new ideas and concepts. After studying the material, you will have GM knowledge of the Queen’s Indian theory.

Test Section

In this section, you will find 26 exercises that will test your positional and tactical understanding.

Additional information

Type of Video

Running Time

6 hours 45 minutes

Production House


Opening Name






Chapter List

1) Typical Structures in the Main Line with 4.g3 

2) Typical Structures in the Petrosian System (4.a3)

3) 4.e3 & Rare Systems – Must-Know Positional and Tactical Ideas

4) Theoretical Preparation

5) Q&A Session