King’s Indian Defence

The King’s Indian Defence is a Black opening in the “d4 Nf6” lines. It is one of the most well-regarded attacking openings for Black, and feared by many of the positional players who choose “1.d4”. This opening is popular with many grandmasters, and is regarded as better for Black than the Benoni, and more attacking than the Benko, Queen’s Indian, Nimzo-Indian, or other options (except possibly the Gruenfeld Defence, which is also quite attacking).

Diagram: King’s Indian Defence

In the usual setup for the King’s Indian Defence, White grabs the entire center. It seems like it’s a walkover, with White establishing three pawns in the center. However, Black has counter-attacking resources.

Diagram: King’s Indian Defence (Nc3 Line)

The usual result is a center where White advances to “d5” and the center pawns get all locked up. White has move space, but it’s a semi-closed position, and there is a lot of play on both sides of the board.

Black’s Kingside Attacking Plan

The main Black attacking plan is unusual: a combination of a pawn storm and piece storm in front of your own King, against the White King (which is usually on the same side as the Black King). The Black King is weakened by its own pawn advances, but White rarely gets an attack against the Black King because the interlocking center pawn chains limit entry points. Instead, White usually attacks on the Queenside and tries to get a pawn break with “b4” and “c5” (against Black’s d6 pawn).

This sounds like the ideal situation for an attacking player. White is only attacking your pawns on the queenside, while Black can go directly at the White King! Hence, the King’s Indian is very popular.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the KID

Another advantage of the King’s Indian for Black is that White cannot really avoid it, making it a good candidate for an attacking Black opening repertoire. Even if White delays c4 (e.g. with 2.Nf3), or even completely avoids playing “c4”, Black can often just calmly play the usual Black setup: g6, Bg7, d6, etc. Such sidelines are sometimes called the “East Indian Defence”.

The main disadvantage of the King’s Indian is that it is a popular and well-known opening with a huge amount of theory. Surprise value, there is not! A strong White “d4” player will know a lot about this opening and have played against it many times.

White Fianchetto System against KID

Fianchetto System: White can choose a much slower opening system against the King’s Indian, where the White King bishop is also fianchettoed. This is a very popular setup with White, reflecting the temperature nature of many Queen pawn players.

Diagram: King’s Indian Defence (g3 Line)

Variations of the King’s Indian Defence

Sub-variations of the King’s Indian Defence include:

Anti-KID Lines

The main “anti-King’s Indian” lines are those where White begins attacking before playing “c4” (i.e. various “delayed c4 lines”):

For more about White alternatives, see: Anti-King’s Indian Defences (and also “Anti-Indian” lines generally).

White players will often play various of the KID variations, claiming it as their own “anti-KID line”, but these really don’t avoid the King’s Indian! But there’s a lot of theory for a KID player to learn, so White can sometimes get surprise value from a particular line.

Reverse King’s Indian for White!

Interestingly, the King’s Indian Defence plan is so strong for Black that some players choose to use it in reverse as White. The idea of a “Reverse King’s Indian” opening is actually called the “King’s Indian Attack” if White plays it, but the overall plan is the same if White is playing it, just in reverse. Black can claim more space in the center and attack down the queenside, while White plays for an attack down the Kingside wing.