I recently started playing 1. e4. Since black has a big choice of replies, I would like to learn one opening at a time. If black plays something I haven't learned yet, I would like to resort to a King's Indian setup (pawns on d3, e4, g3, bishop on g2 and knight on f3) which I am familiar with and enjoy playing.

Obviously this backup plan does not work with all of black's replies (e.g. not with the Scandinavian 1. e4 d5). With most others it should be ok-ish, but perhaps there are also slight differences.

My question is: Against which openings is the KIA setup not all that great? Or alternatively, which openings should I learn first so that I don't have to resort to the KIA backup plan?


3 Answers 3


When you play 1.e4, you should have a plan against:

  1. d5 - Scandanavian
  2. Nf6 - Alekhine's
  3. d6 - Pirc
  4. c6 - Caro-Kann
  5. g6 - Modern
  6. c5 - Sicilian
  7. e5 - King's Pawn
  8. e6 - French
  9. Nc6 and other garbage.

I would say you can go for a King's Indian Attack setup against all of them except the Scandanavian and the King's Pawn openings. You just need to know where to place your pieces based on your opponents opening choices and what pawn structures you want to achieve against them.

So, Scandanavian and 1...e5 it is not so great against. Everything else you can make do with minor tweaks. I like 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 and if 2...Nf6 3.Bb5+ lines in the Scandanavian. White gets easy development and Black's pices sort of get in each others way a bit.

  • How do you play the KIA against the Alekhine or against Caro-Kann? Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 15:10
  • 1.e4 c6 2.d3 vs the Caro Kann. 1. e4 Nf6 2.d3!? - that's ugly looking. Of course, trying a catch-all opening against a bunch of stuff is a terrible way to play, in my estimation. For me, I would not bother and just learn the actual opening.
    – Priyome
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 21:55
  • The problem is that in these cases black is still able to play e5. If you don't want to end up in a 1.e4 e5 2.d3 variation, you need a plan how to avoid that. Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 8:13
  • Yep. My plan is to "avoid all of that" and actually learn how to play the openings themselves. that was and still is my recommendation. "For me, I would not bother and just learn the actual opening. "
    – Priyome
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 14:59
  • Actually KIA against CK is a decent choice. Balck has some issues even if he manages ...e7-e5, because of the (half-)lost tempo ...c6. The Alekhine is more problematic, since 1.e4 Nf6 2.d3 e5 is already very ok for Black. So you will probably have to rather prepare smg after 2.e5 ; thanksfully, you won't face the Alekhine that often.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 13:59

Depends on your style somewhat. I'm not sure I would like using KID setup against black playing e7-e5 at some point. I think the best openings for this backup plan are Sicilian and French, where e7-e5 is ranging from dubious to impossible. And for sure these two are theoretically the most heavy. In systems like Caro, Pirc, Alekhine I would prefer better backup plan. In e4e5 I would go for d3 Italian instead. But I can imagine some players like bishop on g2 even in e4e5 structure and then there is only Skandinavian left. Even against that I once employed 2.d3 but it is not very good.

  • Yes, only when black won't play e5 easily. I agree with using it on French. 2 d3 is the 2nd popular choice (but way behind 2 d4). For Sicilian, only in 2...e6 variation, otherwise black can still go e5
    – jf328
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 12:05
  • What is the problem if black plays in the Sicilian e5? Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 1:53
  • He certainly can go for e5 in Najdorf. But then he has at least hole on d5 and wasted tempo for d6-d5 break. If you go to KIA via Philidor for example, would black play c7-c5 early or not? Maybe he would, more probably he wouldn't. If this setup isn't highly desired for black in early e5, then it is probably not that great in early c5, which is just transposition. Looks like a good idea to play KIA instead of main lines of poisoned pawn or Be3 racing with no knowledge.
    – hoacin
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 8:51
  • Confused. I understood from jf328's comment that black playing e5 in the sicilian could be a problem for white. Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 14:47
  • Probably not the only problem when playing major opening with very little knowledge about it. Adding e4 to repertoire must produce many heavy problems as otherwise everybody would play both e4 and d4. Not sure e5 in KIA-Najdorf is problem at all and by far not sure this problem is serious for temporary backup weapon. The c5 e5 guarantees your bishop more fun if pawn e4 goes from the board.
    – hoacin
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 16:48

As long as you dont expect an opening edge you can play KIA against sicilian, french and caro-kann. The KIA is most often played against the french and e6 sicilian, but it can also be used with somewhat less sting against the caro and other sicilians. This is pretty good as it covers 3 out of the 4 main replies. So you should start by learning 1.e4 e5 and then go covering the rest latter. Against stuff that isnt the 4 main replies you can get away with simple development untill you have the main lines covered.

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