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The latest version of Stockfish 12 thinks that the Four Pawns Attack is the most promising variation for White against the Alekhine Defense 1.e4 Nf6, But it evaluated the position resulting from the Four Pawns Attack vs the Kings Indian as close to zero. Is it really all that practical?

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  • The four pawns attack is a lot more dangerous against the Alekhine than the four pawns attack is against the KID. While the name "four pawns attack" is indeed the same for both of these variations, they are variations in openings that are radically different from one another (although they're both potentially quite unbalanced). In general, just because an approach works against one opening it doesn't mean it works against every opening.
    – Scounged
    Dec 17 '20 at 22:01
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There's a concept in chess called the equilibrium. Basically, things start off more or less equal, and both sides try to upset the equilibrium in their favour (i.e., gain an advantage). If one side makes a mistake and upsets the equilibrium in their opponent's favour, then their opponent is "justified" in playing in some way to capitalize on this mistake. This often involves being aggressive and attacking. If it weren't for the mistake, the equilibrium would be maintained, causing such an attack to not work and be rebuked (assuming optimal play).

I don't know whether the Four Pawns Attack is the best line against the Alekhine, but at the very least it's one of the best. The reason it works is that White is justified in playing this way. Black has spent multiple tempi moving his knight around the board, mainly for the sake of provoking White's pawns forward. This upsets the equilibrium a bit in White's favour, giving him a free hand to be aggressive without getting punished.

Meanwhile for the KID, the opening is generally quite well regarded. Black develops quickly and is basically being no-nonsense in his approach; this ensures the equilibrium more or less gets maintained. Therefore, White isn't as justified in attacking so early on. He can certainly try with the Four Pawns, and while he's still equal Black has the resources to defend effectively.

Also, while it's true that the KID doesn't control the centre much on the first few moves, it is of those openings where Black can get away with this. So this doesn't drastically upset the equilibrium in White's favour.

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As far as I know, the short answer is no. I am no expert on the theoretical part and I will not go into it because it will require more research. What I do assume is that any player who plays the Alekhine Defense with the Black pieces has studied the Four Pawns Attack. Thus, it makes more sense to me from a human and psychological point of view to choose something less well studied. One line that I used to play goes like this.

[Title "A line against the Alekhine Defense"]
[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Bc4

Perhaps you can find some games and see if the positions seem interesting. In general, I would say that getting someone out of their comfort zone and out of their known positions is more important than objective evaluations of positions. I hope this helps.

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