I'm a casual player who enjoys playing the King's Indian Defense as Black, but I don't fully understand yet when it is better to play 6...e5 or 6...c5. These are my main doubts:

  • What are the aims and differences about playing one move instead of the other?
  • In which conditions (such as position of opponent's pieces) should I play 6...c5 instead of the more characteristic 6...e5?

I've looked at this very interesting question about the aims of playing 6...e5, but it does not mention anything about the difference between the two aforementioned moves.

Any extra insight or suggestion is of course more than welcome!

1 Answer 1


I'm not a KID expert, but Joe Gallagher GM is, so I'll quote him from "Starting out: The King's Indian":

"If you are going to play the King's Indian with Black you may be a little confused as to whether you should aim for ... c7-c5 or ... e7-e5. I tend to adhere to the following rule:

Play ... e7-e5 except when White develops his queen bishop early. Then it's time to start thinking (just thinking mind you) about ... c7-c5. The move ... c7-c5 is likely to prise open the long diagonal (after ... e7-e5 it usually becomes totally blocked) and the absence of the white bishop from the queenside means the dark squares there (such as b2) may become vulnerable to pressure from the g7 bishop"

  • ..c5 is often followed by ..b5 for a Benko-like setup. Apr 14, 2020 at 1:05
  • 1
    Or a Modern Benoni structure after a subsequent d5 e6 something exd cxd
    – Ian Bush
    Apr 14, 2020 at 7:16
  • @IanBush I like it as a general principle, and thank you for pointing me to Gallagher's book, maybe I'll have a look at it.
    – Ric S
    Apr 14, 2020 at 8:09
  • Just as a side note, I've looked at what has been played by Grandmasters after moving the dark-squared bishop in all the possible squares, and only after 6. Be3 (which enters the Larsen variation) the move 6...e5 is the most popular one. This could be an exception to Gallagher's general suggestion.
    – Ric S
    Apr 14, 2020 at 8:13
  • Well Be3 often stops c5 as a viable move as after it c5 just drops a pawn for Black ... But see the Saemisch Gambit
    – Ian Bush
    Apr 14, 2020 at 8:21

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