The Kings Indian Defense is one of the most formidable defenses in chess. Black builds an extremely strong defense around his king and then looks to counter attack depending on where white’s structure is weak.

King’s Indian Defense is one of the most popular replies against white’s first move 1.d4. The player needs to be thoroughly prepared to beat the King’s Indian Defense.

Though in almost all variations of King’s Indian defense, white has a good advantage, you should know how to continue the momentum and what exactly to play. White has hundreds of choices and the player has to select the variations according to their style and pace of the game. We are going to learn everything about this opening.

History of King’s Indian Defense – Nothing Indian About it!

Not many know, that the King’s Indian Defense was called King’s Fiancheto Indian Defense, but Alexander Konstantinopolsky named it King’s Indian defense.

The term King’s Indian Defense was first used in 1884. This opening was not famous until the mid-1930s when the game analysis of three strong chess players- Alexander Konstantinopolsky, Isaac Boleslavsky, and David Bronstein brought it back into the limelight.

Afterwards, many top players like Garry Kasparov, Bobby Fischer, Taimour Radjabov, Ding Lire used this as their opening and helped popularize King’s Indian Defense.

Why is White always at an advantage in King’s Indian Defense?

If you are white, you could choose King’s Indian Defense as your opening. White gets more space advantage than black in every variation and due to this reason, computers will always show that this position is better for white. But only the space advantage is not sufficient for a comprehensive win.

When you will practice this as an opening for a game, you would realize fast enough that Black always has plenty of counter-attack chances.

If white is well prepared and is strong in positional chess, then it can continue the position quickly and dominate the game early on. For beginner players who play 1.d4, merely the space advantage is insufficient to get a winning advantage.

Some of the Central openings in King’s Indian Defense which you can prepare from white’s side

Classical Mainline

This is the most popular response to King’s Indian defense. White plays on the queenside and black attacks on the kingside. If white prepares this variation, then in most cases, he is assured a win. Because of this variation, top players don’t prefer King’s Indian Defense.

Fianchetto Variation

If you don’t like attacks or want to play positional chess, this variation is perfect for you. In this variation, whites develop their bishop from g2 and try to keep pressure in the center. This opening requires a high level understanding of positional dominance and quality positional play.

Averbakh Variation

Instead of playing the mainline, white chooses to play Be2 and then Bg5 setup. White’s main plan in this variation is to attack the kingside. If black is weak in theory then white can get a better position quickly. This variation does not require much preparation, and the position is also very safe for white after opening.

I will suggest this opening to players who are below the 1400 rating.

Samisch Variation

In this variation, white attacks on the kingside. This variation is very fashionable at the grandmaster level. The only disadvantage of this variation is that black also gets a major counter-attack. This variation also requires a lot of understanding of the game and prophylactic thinking.

Four Pawn Attack

Generally, a beginner would prefer such a kind of opening because they think white has many advantages. But this is wrong! White dont get an advantage in this opening. The main plan of white is to keep four pawns on c4,d4,e4,f4 and then take a break with e5 and c5.

Tips to Break King’s Indian Defense Opening

Preparing against King’s Indian defense is not easy. I always suggest hiring a coach or joining a chess academy if you want to learn it in a comprehensive fashion.

The opening is a very crucial and vital part of the game. You can follow the following method to learn King’s Indian Defense. This strategy will work in most of the openings.

  • Choose only one opening from the white side and prepare well. Don’t prepare multiple openings against the king’s Indian defense.
  • If you are a positional player, then go for Fianchetto variation and if you are a tactical player who likes to play sharp openings, then go with classical mainline.
  • Read more books, watch online courses and you can always join, engage with other players, and share thoughts and opinions.
  • Play online games with other players when you have prepared to see how they react to have a deeper understanding of opposition response.You can also play on various websites.
  • Keep an eye on the latest opening trends, recent changes in the opening, and watch games of top players.
  • Understand basic plans and strategies behind the opening which you want to prepare by watching free videos.
  • Start watching various games played by masters.
  • Understand your mistakes from every game and find improvement using the engine. You can search and analyze chess games on Google, and you will find multiple resources for reference.

Best games in King’s Indian Defense

Here’s a list of games that you can refer to in order to have a better understanding of King’s Indian Defense.

Resources to prepare against King’s Indian Defense

You will find several videos on YouTube. Here’s a list of videos I recommend you should watch.This will help you to improve your overall understanding.

Books are another great way to nail this opening. Many books have been written by chess grandmasters. But here’s my suggestion. Don’t get too many books, and aim to get one and complete it first.

Here are some of the best books to prepare against King’s Indian Defense:

Which line should I prepare against the King’s Indian Defense?

There is a lot of theory involved in the King’s Indian Defense.

To begin with, you can prepare a Samisch Variation or Classical Variation. Both variations need a strong repertoire and a lot of practice.

Samisch Variation is very attacking and dynamic. Classical Variation is teeming with a lot of theory. Both these variations will give you deeper experience about King’s Indian opening, and come in handy to play even at Grandmaster level.

Based on your level, the preparation for the King’s Indian Defense could vary. Let’s see which opening you can prepare according to your rating.

  • Below 1200 players and unrated – Fianchetto Variation is best for players who just got a rating or are at beginner level. This variation is solid, reliable, and easy to play. It gives your game longevity and you have breathing space to play your move and not will not lose in the first 15-20 min against any players.
  • 1200-1600 players – If you are playing Fianchetto variation from the start, it will be better to continue with the same variation. But if you want to change or want to prepare another variation, then go for the London system or Samisch Variation. These variations are dynamic and easy to play from the white side.
  • 1600-2000 players – I will recommend Averbakh Variation at this level. If black doesn’t know the proper theory, he can lose in just 15-20 moves. But if black knows the theory well, then the position is a little tricky to play. You can also start the classical mainline, which will give you an overall understanding of the board and help you in the long term. It’s always better to prepare two variations at this level.
  • Above 2000 players– You are already better than 99% of players. You can play any variation which you like. Openings will not affect much at this level. But you can watch more and more games of top players and update the latest trends and include new ones in your database.

How to avoid the King’s Indian Defense?

When you play 1.d4, you cannot avoid King’s Indian Defense unless you play a very bad 2nd move Nd2, giving immediate advantage to black. The only good way to avoid the King’s Indian Defense is to play 1st move 1.c4 and then convert your structure in reti.

But I will not suggest this because black is very much more comfortable in Reti than in the king’s Indian defense.


Many openings give white a decent positional advantage against the King’s Indian Defense. You will need impeccable preparation and understanding of the chessboard. White has 54% winning chances against the king’s Indian defense, and black has 46%.

Start preparing yourself against the King’s Indian Defense as soon as possible in your learning process to avoid losses in the future.

All our articles are reviewed and edited by GM Marian Petrov, a top level GM coach, theorist, mentor and and former Bulgarian champion, as well as winner of many open tournaments around the world.

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