As an intermediate-level KID player, I'm starting to face Catalan-style setups with d4 / c4 / g3 more often:

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1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 O-O 5.Nf3 d6 6.O-O Nbd7 7.Nc3 e5

I often struggle to find plans for Black after pushing e5. White's position just seems so solid and without a lot of weaknesses; meanwhile, Black's is cramped and it's hard to develop pieces like the d7 knight / the c8 bishop. I've read that it's also not as easy for Black to create a kingside attack, since White does not close the center and has an extra defender near their king.

Here is the typical way I go about these positions:

  • Play c6 to prevent hops from the c3 knight / block out the g2 bishop
  • Play Re8 and Nf8
  • Try to develop the light-squared bishop somewhere if possible
  • Remaneuver the knight to e6

What other strategic plans are available to Black? Is it possible to play more aggressively against this variation?

2 Answers 2


Since you're asking about rather aggressive reply, the a6-Rb8-b5 variation might be of interest. In the other answer it's referred to as Gallagher; I have no clue who this Gallagher is, but the line is known as either Panno or Yugoslav variation (which might be odd since Panno has nothing to do with Yugoslavia). This line is recommended by Bologan, and although stockfish doesn't like for black too much, it's still pretty much playable.

In short, instead of Nd7 and e5 you play Nc6, a6, Rb8 and b5 (it's debatable if a6 first or Rb8 first, some might argue one is more precise than the other). The immediate idea is to attack the c4 pawn. If white meets Nc6 with d5 you answer with Na5 attacking c4, and after a move like Nd2 you play c5 ruling out b2-b4 threat. Then you push b5, exchange pawns on c4 and play along the b file, long dark diagonal and try to win the c4 pawn. White plays in the center, so at some point you might want to close it with e7-e5.

Of course, white doesn't have to push d5, but you still aim for b7-b5 and taking away the c4 pawn. Strategically, white is very solid with the bishop on g2, so the idea is to use the only weakness of this development: the Bg2 leaves the c4 pawn a bit weak. Also, by playing Rb8 and b5 you move your pieces away from the long diagonal, somewhat limiting the impact of the bishop on g2.

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    "Joseph Gerald Gallagher (born in London 4 May 1964) is a British-born Swiss chess player and writer. He was awarded the title of Grandmaster by FIDE in 1990 and has been the national champion of both Britain and Switzerland. " - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Gallagher
    – Ian Bush
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 17:11
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    Yugoslav is when white pushes d5. Panno when white does not push d5. Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 11:25

There are several top level games in this variation from the 1990's, including Yusapov-Kasparov, which Garry won; and some games where Karpov played it as White.

You can explore the database further for examples.

Typically, Black either pressures d4 more with c6 and Qb6, or he gets ready to give up the center (exd4) when he would play Nc5, a5, Re8 type of setup.

But there is also the Gallagher system (http://www.kenilworthchessclub.org/games/java/2010/carrelli-goeller.htm) which gives up the center and tries to get in b7-b5 (Rb8, a6, b7-b5, he discusses it in his excellent book "Play The King's Indian"

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