Understanding The King's Indian Defense

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6

This is generally considered the most complex and most interesting of all the Indian Defenses. As in other "Indian" lines, Black avoids answering 1.d4 with d5. Instead, he plays 1....Nf6 and continues with ....g6 and ....Bg7.

The King's Indian Defense (KID) is currently the most popular defense to 1.d4 for Black. It is based on solid principles of development and counterattack that typify the Hypermodern School of chess. Maneuvering behind the ranks and vicious attacks are both commonplace and the ability to calculate accurately is essential. Crucial to Black's aspirations is the powerful bishop at g7, which can exert a powerful influence in the center. Even if Black plays ....e5 and the center becomes closed, it can open up later and the bishop can wake up from its hibernation and inflict serious damage.

The KID was developed during the "hypermodern" era of the 1920s, and came into prominence in the 1940s when Bronstein, Boleslavsky and Reshevsky scored brilliant victories with it. The opening reached the peak of its popularity in the 1970s after Fischer became World Champion, as it was his main defense to the queen pawn. Nunn and Kasparov were its later champions, and today many aggressive young grandmasters keep the KID in the forefront of modern chess opening theory.

Black cedes the center in the first few moves, preparing to attack it once his forces are partially mobilized. The most usual break in the center is the pawn thrust....e5, though ....c5 is not infrequent. When White responds to ....e5 with d5, the locked center may give rise to pawn storms on opposite sides of the board, the winner being the first to successfully break through with an attack. Pawn and even piece sacrifices in the interest of the initiative are commonplace, to the point of becoming established theory.

The wild play of blocked centers may encourage White in two other directions. He can just maintain the pawn on d4, leaving the choice with Black, to cede the higher center to White with ....exd4 or further continue the tension. Tactics here can also explode at any moment. Or White can himself exchange on e5, leading to relatively stable play. While objectively nothing special, this sort of position can be psychologically distasteful for the combative King's Indian practitioner.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 This is the beginning of the King's Indian Defense. Of course White is under no obligation to occupy the center. He can play much more quietly with his first four moves, but it is these opening moves that put the most pressure upon Black's formation. White has a larger number of choices. White's main tries are:

5.Be2 (Classical Variation);
5.f4 (Four Pawns Attack);
5.f3 (Samisch Variation);
5.Be2 (Averbach Variation);
5.Nf3 (Main line)

The most popular variations

1. The Classical Variation
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6
The Classical Variation has managed through the waxing and waning of its viability to accumulate a massive pedigree, culminating in its current feverish popularity.
Kings Indian Defense Classical Variation

2. The Four Pawns Attack
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 c5
The most feared variation to Black in White's arsenal of weapons against the KID. The Four Pawns Attack is the grandiose response to the King's Indian.
Four Pawns Attack

3. The Samisch Variation
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3
The Samisch Variation rejects immediate development in favor of securing posts for both queen bishop and king knight without harassment by B/Ng4, plus the possibility of a quick kingside attack with g2-g4. But black has a wealth of plausible responses that stretch the credibility of White's premise. The Samisch is a fighting opening which has produced many sparkling gems.
Samisch Variation

4. The Averbakh Variation
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5
In the Averbakh White will create a battery of queen and bishop along the c1-h6 diagonal and can attack along the h-file. Black should counter with pressure against d4, and this can be achieved in two ways by advancing either the c-pawn or e-pawn.

5. The Main Line Variation
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2
With 7Nc6 trying to avoid the blocked center for at least a while with 8.Be3 may have caused Fischer repeated headaches in the 1960s, but it just hasn't been a problem of late. The main line 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 still leads combatants to make 25 moves and beyond before attempting to spring novelties. By far White's most popular way of meeting the KID is the main line, where White just develops his King side happy as a kid with a fudge sickle with his central gains.
The Main LIne

6. The Fianchetto Variation
The Fianchetto System is a more positional approach to the center. White also postpones central expansion until he has completed his kingside development. Black's classical approach 6Nbd7 7.0-0 heads for pressure on d4 while sidestepping a knight attack with d5. White typically continues 8.e4 c6 9.h3 to hold the center, when the most usual result is the eventual exchange e5xd4 Nxd4. It would seem that the pawn at d6 is then weak, but just as oftern the e4 pawn comes under fire. White can try to avoid creating a target with 8.Qc2 Re8 9.Rd1 but must be prepared to handle 9e4! 10.Ng5 e3! With complications.

Fianchetto Classical E67 (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.Nc3)
Fianchetto Main Line E69 (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg7 0-0 5.Nf3)