Sorry for my chess ignorance. I'm organizing my understanding of openings and I thought it would be nice to know if there was a reason why the King's Indian Defense is called almost the same as King's Indian Attack.

I know, KIA is a system that works for many things black may do... and KID isn't according to wiki, it's a opening.

But it seems like the KID is the symmetrical counterpart for black of the KIA, indeed, g6 mimics g3, Nf6 mimics Nf3, the same with Bg7 and Bg2 and possibly e5 and d6 mimicking e4 and d3.

On a related note: Can black do a system analogous to KIA? Is it KID?

3 Answers 3


They are indeed similar in some ways; as you have noted, the kingside structure that gives the variations their names are identical to each other, and there are some similar themes, such as a kingside attack.

A comparison between them provides a great example of the general difference between White openings and Black openings. Black in the King's Indian Defense has to be very precise and constantly runs the risk of falling one move behind White with potentially disastrous consequences. On the other hand, because White started with the advantage of the first move, when he plays an initially restrained setup like the King's Indian Attack, all he is doing is ceding some of that first-move advantage, and the game does not balance on a knife-edge as much (until maybe later!).

For this reason the two openings proceed along quite different paths, and expertise in one does not necessarily translate to the other.

(To answer the nomenclature question: Indian in chess opening terminology tends to indicate a fianchettoed bishop (one on g2, g7, b2, or b7); the King's part means that the fianchettoed bishop is the one on the kingside; and Black openings tend to be Defenses while White openings can be Attacks.)

  • Check [this][en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Defence] for your definition of "indian". I thank your contribution anyway! Jun 25, 2016 at 22:35
  • The original "indian" name was for the nationality for the player, but has expanded to most play with including a fianchetto, a notable exception is the Dragon Sicilian. Some opening do not switch attack/defense from its reverse opening. That is, the Bird's opening is not called the Dutch reversed or the Dutch Attack.
    – Mike Jones
    Jun 25, 2016 at 23:32
  • 3
    It's my understanding, although I don't have a handy reference, that the Indian term came from the fact that in India, they hadn't, or were late to adopt, the rule to allow pawns to move 2 squares on its first move.
    – Herb
    Jun 26, 2016 at 3:14
  • @HerbWolfe See this question: chess.stackexchange.com/questions/720 Jun 29, 2016 at 17:51

These two are not symmetrical for at least two reasons:

In the KIA, the obligatory move is e2-e4, because otherwise the opening will not be called the KIA. But there are ways to play the KID without e7-e5, but with c7-c5 instead.

White must play both d2-d4 and c2-c4 for the opening to be called the KID, but in the KIA Black may play c7-c6, or d7-d6 and it is still the KIA.

  • 1
    Yes, the difference in naming conventions between white and black King's Indian-like set-ups has to do with some lines already belonging to other openings or having other names. Jun 29, 2016 at 17:49

The King's Indian Defense is played by Black. The King's Indian Attack is a variation of the same opening played by White, because he has an extra move.

Black plays the "defense" because he wants to turn the tables on White by strongly controlling the center, particularly the black squared diagonals, at whatever cost to his development. With the first move, White can "have his cake and eat it too," strongly controlling the center, without neglecting development.

Some people dislike either the defense or the attack because it is "slow," and they want a faster paced game.

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