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The best way to learn the most dynamic opening in chess!

by Davide Nastasio - 20/10/2017

The King's Indian Defence has been the favourite of many masters including legends like Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. If you would like to emulate one of the openings your idols used to love, this is your chance! In his comprehensive tutorial DVD on the KID, GM Victor Bologan, not only gives an in-depth analysis of the variations but also provides ten puzzles towards the end in order to assess how much the viewers have grasped. David Nastasio, the author of this review, feels he could play the opening like a master, now that he has learned from GM Bologan. He shares his experience below.

Before I get my review going let me share with you the opinion of one of the leading experts on King's Indian Defence - Teimour Radjabov. The man beat World Champion Magnus Carlsen with the black pieces in this opening!

Radjabov talks to ChessBase India at the World Cup 2017 on how to learn the King's Indian Defence

Review of King's Indian: A modern Approach

I got this DVD (King's Indian a modern approach) because Bologan just published an impressive book on the King's Indian. And unfortunately, even if I truly love chess books, at the speed I'm reading them I'll only be able to read 29 of them before departing this muddy sphere travelling across the galaxy! Hence, since I wanted to play the King's Indian (from now on abbreviated as KID), I went on to the next more suitable solution for my way of learning – which is videos – and a selected database of games.

I'd definitely love to read this. But I like videos better!

What totally convinced me of the worthiness in investing my time to study the KID was the following game between...

...Magnus Carlsen and Teimur Radjabov

But there is another reason I wanted to learn the KID. A very similar opening is the Pirc/Modern. Practically, I thought that with 2 DVDs made by Bologan, I could cover the entire major openings and focus more on studying the middlegame and the endgame, which often are neglected by amateurs.

The Pirc/Modern can give rise to similar pawn structures and ideas as the King's Indian

But of course, we cannot limit ourselves to mere pragmatic tournament reasons. For example, the greatest champion of all times, Bobby Fischer, was one of its exponents. Therefore, learning the KID would make our understanding of his great games easier. And then of course, there are a lot of champions like Kasparov, Bronstein, Tal, who also used the KID.

 

In fact, Bologan packs the DVD with a database of "model games" which contains a total of 198 games to study. And even though quite a few of them are played by Kasparov, this one stood immediately out!

And who could resist the temptation of sneaking into a magical Fischer game with the KID, from a time when he was beating the best players on the planet!

Of course there are many more exciting games, but clearly the KID is a dangerous opening which can help us win more games with Black!

But why did I show these two games? Because Bologan, in the DVD, says that he studied all games by Fischer and Kasparov on the KID. That means we need to do it too if we wish to master this opening. Obviously, Bologan did it with a coach. But thanks to him and this DVD, we can also learn the intricacies of the KID.

 

Another important point Bologan raises in the introductory video is about the many different schools of thought on playing the KID. This remark is important, because in fact two books have just been published one by Bologan and one by Smirin, and they couldn't be more different in the way they handle the KID. Two recently written books – one written by Bologan himself and another by Smirin – elucidate upon this in the best manner. Bologan also mentions Boleslavsky's school. He was a very strong player from the 1950s who helped Spassky to reach the world champion level.


Boleslavsky testing his theory against Botvinnik

But apart from those classical players of the past, who is playing it now? Bologan mentions Hikaru Nakamura who, very recently, has had great success with this opening.

The modern stalwart of the King's Indian - Hikaru Nakamura

Here an example of how Nakamura destroys an elite player in a blitz game using the KID!

Bologan mentions that the KID has changed a lot thanks to the deep analysis made in world correspondence championships. In fact, the ICCF centaur method (in modern correspondence games, players are allowed to use engines) allowed to deepen the search for new ideas as never before in chess history.

 

Generally, I don't put all the lines treated in the DVD in a review because it would make it boring. But in the case of the KID, both sides, Black and White, should always be on the lookout. Besides, White must also be prepared and updated. Hence, even White players need to know what Bologan teaches.

We have the King's Indian after the moves 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6

The second video shows the plans with Bg5 and Bf4. After 3…Bg7, White can continue with 4. Bg5

Bologan clearly explains what Black should do once White plays Bg5, and the weak points Black can exploit and how to exploit these. Bologan also shows some of the typical pawn sacrifices which can give Black a better position.

White can also play 4. Nf3 0-0 5. Bf4 (or Bg5)

or 4. e4 d6 5. Bg5

I believe it is important to practice in order to for making the most of Bologan's teaching. Bologan also advises playing some blitz games using the opening. It doesn't matter if one loses or wins because the experience will teach him more on where to place the pieces or how to avoid common mistakes.

The third video is dedicated to the plans with Nge2 after the moves 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Bd3 0-0 6. Nge2 (or immediately 5.Nge2)

In the fourth and fifth video, Bologan discusses a tricky move, 5.h3, which we have after the moves: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. h3

The line analyzed in the sixth video discusses the Averbakh system

For those curious of how many games were played by Averbakh with this particular system, I located 16, thanks to Chessbase Megabase 2017. Below here one of the best ones.


In the seventh video, Bologan treats one of the scariest options Whites – the four pawn attack!

Obviously you'll discover what Bologan believes is the best weapon to neutralize such attack, only through watching the video!

From video 8 to video 11, Bologan analyzes what Black should do against the Saemisch variation of the KID

Bologan admits this is a very solid line, and he was playing it as White too. However, for these videos, he has prepared some solid long-term strategic ideas which work well against this setup.

The videos from 12 to 17 are dedicated to the fianchetto system

About the fianchetto, Bologan admits White can enjoy a little space advantage, and that he found himself in comfortable positions as White. In fact, another Chessbase author, GM Nick Pert, made a DVD on the fianchetto in which he claimed to have neutralized the kingside attack KID's players habitually play against White.

GM Pert's DVD on the fianchetto
Bologan is quite aware of the problem and explains clearly how to deal against the fianchetto.

In video 18, Bologan deals with the Classical System - Exchange Variation

This is a very important line for Bologan, because often some Black players are afraid of it and we all know chess is a psychological game. However, the important novelty is related to the new recommendation, in previous books/DVDs Bologan said he recommended to play 9...Rf8. But now he believes 9...Re8 is better.

From video 19 to 26 the Classical system - Bayonet attack/variation are treated in detail.

The DVD ends with 10 video clips of exercises where Bologan ask questions and give feedback to let us understand how much of the material we were able to absorb. Like all DVDs, it comes with 2 databases: one with the theoretical framework based on 26 games/lines; and another of model games, which consists of 198 games.

 

Before concluding this review, I'd like to point out for those serious in mastering and playing the KID at tournament level that Chessbase has already published other DVDs on the KID.

For example, former FIDE World Champion, GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who is now Caruana's second, made this DVD for Chessbase

And of course one should never miss Andrew Martin's DVDs since he shows a lot of games, quickly outlining the main points one must remember or know

There are others too. However, the point is not to advertise all Chessbase products, but to make the reader aware of the tools ChessBase has created for us to excel at this opening.

 

In conclusion, I found the DVD by Bologan quite instructive for pointing out the main ideas behind Black's moves and how to play against White's moves. I think the DVD is better than Bologan's latest book on the KID because it’s more immediate. I can better understand from Bologan's words what is needed to do in some positions. On the other hand, I'm sure some people prefer to read books. So maybe that media is perfect for them. I have both, so I can also use the book for reference. Thanks to Bologan, I can play the KID like a master level player even if my middlegame and endgame are still not at that level. It would be interesting to see Bologan teaching these two important topics in some other Chessbase DVDs.

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About the Author

Davide Nastasio is a novel chess aficionado, who has made of chess his spiritual tool of improvement, and self-discovery. One of his favourite quotes is from the great Paul Keres: "Nobody is born a master. The way to mastery leads to the desired goal only after long years of learning, of struggle, of rejoicing, and of disappointment..."