The King's Indian Attack (KIA) is my choice of opening. I choose this because more often I would prefer games where the actual clash between the sides is delayed (rather than outright in the opening). My friends have recommended me to prepare myself with more aggressive lines in the KIA. He specifically talked about pawn storming ideas (possibly with sacrificing a pawn) starting with h4. But, I guess this is not practical always.

Is there a way to play King's Indian attack aggressively against most systems adopted by black? (I don't mean same attacking plan irrespective of opponent's system). If yes, how?

I personally prefer double-edged games.

PS: There is a book on KID: King's Indian Warfare by Ilya Smirin. Is there a book of this sort on KIA?

4 Answers 4


I looked you up on FIDE's website, and as a roughly 1500-player, the KIA naturally fits your question "How to play king's indian attack aggressively?" If you play it correctly, it already IS an aggressive opening. You cannot get any more aggressive than an opening that basically says "I want to mate your king".

The reality is that at higher levels, it is mostly de-fanged, and considered only good for equality, which is why you do not see Carlsen, and other world champions, play it often (at best). At the top levels, it is played mostly as a surprise opening, typically, to avoid home preparation, or when a player just wants a playable game where the opponent is mostly on their own. Generally, black is considered to have adequate defensive systems that should render that attack harmless. However, black cannot underestimate white's kingside attacking chances, and even GMs can make mistakes in that opening, and lose to an attack.

You can play the KIA against the main black 1.e4 defenses: The Sicilian, French, and Caro-Kann. It becomes more difficult to get the type of game you want if black knows what you typically play, and plays and early g6, Bg7, and 0-0. It is just harder to go for mate against that setup.

As far as books go, there are dozens of books on the KIA. For your level, I would focus on books that explain the ideas rather than rely heavily on regurgitating a ton of theory. I have many books, but unfortunately, during a move, I lost most of my opening books, so I literally have no books on this opening, but if I were to recommend two book just based on a search, I would try these two: "King's Indian Attack: Move by Move" by GM Neil McDonald, and "Starting Out: King's Indian Attack" by GM John Emms. They seem to be more of the explaining type (you can look at the first few pages on Amazon).

A word of warning: If you have any real intentions of trying to get to 2200, you may find that you have to develop a new opening repertoire from scratch at some point, as this opening is will limit your chess development in the long run since you will be easy to prepare for.

  • Oh, thank you for your suggestions. I like ruy lopez; but I am afraid I am not ready for an opening with a lot of theory. Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 16:12
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    @CyriacAntony Beware of worrying too much about the opening, and memorizing theory. That is a sure-fire way to remain a 1500-1600 player for the rest of your life. Concentrate on learning HOW to play chess. Read my answer here for more on what to study: chess.stackexchange.com/questions/27945/… Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 16:46
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    we clearly have different ideas of what an aggressive opening is! I see KIA more as a slow positional set up that might allow an attack on the king but depends what black does whether that is the best strategy. Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 17:22
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    Slow, or fast, its intent is clear...attack! Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 17:26
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    The beauty of KIA, KID is the way it is both positionally and tactically rich. First get a better position, then attack. Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 17:48

In most cases, an aggressive KIA middle-game implies that White will play a King-side pawn storm. That means:

  • Develop your pieces, castle, minimise Black's Queen-side counterplay.
  • Prepare f4, g4 or h4. Black will often counter this by gaining Queen-side space.
  • A pawn (or piece) sacrifice is often used to open the Black King position.
  • Expect to pivot to central play if Black opens the center.

A comparable opening in this regard is the Grand-Prix attack in the Sicilian. Some lines of the Grand-Prix even involve playing g3 and Bg2, but either way they all involve the King-side pawn-storm. I recommend using the Grand-Prix attack as a source for ideas. Don't worry about Bg2 being different, this is more about the approach/style of attack: https://youtu.be/rnm7yXtx6yw?t=621


Well, playing the KIA, before you can get aggressive, you've got to first consolidate your position, shore up all weak points and place a knight on d2(slows down Black's queenside ambitions), and then only to start playing aggressive by playing ...Ne1, ...f4, ...f5, ...g5, and attempt to overwhelm Black with a kingside attack.

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    The question is about KIA, not KID. Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 5:25
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    The knight often goes to h2 in the KIA
    – David
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 6:10
  • I am afraid a certain amount of flexibility gives a better chance of producing good attack. If one is fixated on placing the knight on d2 (or h2 for that matter), that would give less choices of attack. I guess depepending on the position, one has to come up with a plan of attack. Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 3:38
  • Your first point is important in KIA. "Before you can get aggressive, you've got to first consolidate your position" Commented Sep 8, 2020 at 3:39

Pawn structure

The KIA may arise generally if Black plays the two following pawn setups:

[fen "8/pp3ppp/4p3/2pp4/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"]


[fen "8/pp3ppp/3pp3/2p5/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"]

White launches a thematic attack to the kingside, following a sequence of moves which can be reproduced almost automatically in several variations. This doesn't necessarily mean that these moves are best. Indeed, the engine's evaluation is often favorable to Black, but neutralising White's attack is not trivial–it requires an accurate defensive setup and counterplay at the queenside.

The thematic KIA manoeuvre

1. Nf3 2. g3 3. Bg2 4. O-O 5. d3 6. Nbd2 7. e4 8. Re1 9. e5 10. Nf1 (10. Qe2) 11. h4 12. Bf4

[fen "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

1. Nf3 i9 2. g3 i9 3. Bg2  i9 4. O-O i9 5. d3 i9 6. Nbd2 i9 7. e4 i9 8. Re1 i9 9. e5 i9 10. Nf1 (10. Qe2) i9 11. h4 i9 12. Bf4 i9

Example game

[fen "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]
[Event "Sousse Interzonal"]
[Site "Sousse TUN"]
[Date "1967.10.15"]
[EventDate "1967.??.??"]
[Round "3"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Robert James Fischer"]
[Black "Lhamsuren Myagmarsuren"]
[ECO "A07"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "61"]

1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. g3 c5 5. Bg2 Nc6 6. Ngf3 Be7
7. O-O O-O 8. e5 Nd7 9. Re1 b5 10. Nf1 b4 11. h4 a5 12. Bf4 a4
13. a3 bxa3 14. bxa3 Na5 15. Ne3 Ba6 16. Bh3 d4 17. Nf1 Nb6
18. Ng5 Nd5 19. Bd2 Bxg5 20. Bxg5 Qd7 21. Qh5 Rfc8 22. Nd2 Nc3
23. Bf6 Qe8 24. Ne4 g6 25. Qg5 Nxe4 26. Rxe4 c4 27. h5 cxd3
28. Rh4 Ra7 29. Bg2 dxc2 30. Qh6 Qf8 31. Qxh7+ 1-0

This is obviously a very simplistic approach to the KIA, which might be useful to <1800-rated players. To learn more, I find Sergei Movsesian's games very instructive. He is a KIA expert, and his repertoire is mostly based on this opening.

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