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I'm very fond of the King's Indian, but I dislike playing the Benoni because I feel like it's much harder to find a clear-cut plan. However, against some anti-KID systems such as the Samisch, the Averbakh, and the Four Pawns Attack, I've read that it's considered best for Black to go for the c5 instead of the e5 break. So should I suck it up and learn how to play Benoni structures in order to deal with these systems, or bury my head in the and study the theory for 6...Nc6 against the Samisch, 6...Na6 against the Averbakh, 6...Na6 against the Four Pawns Attack, etc. in order to avoid the Benoni?

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  • Well the KID isn't just the classical variation! You will need something against the other common variations such as the Saemisch, the fianchetto, the four pawns attack etc., and all of those won't involve a march of the K side pawns. So pick one you like and learn it; I play the Modern Benoni and personally find it great fun, that you have multiple plans and have to assess which is best in the current position is part of the attraction for me. The Wikipedia article on the Modern Benoni is actually not bad - you might start there en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Benoni
    – Ian Bush
    Jul 31 '21 at 8:23
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Learning how to play Benoni (and even Benko) structures gives you a lot of flexibility down the line when playing the KID. The family of openings that is classified as "King's Indian" is vast, and when you play it as black you have to be mentally prepared that white may try anything against your setup. While it's possible to avoid Benoni structures as a KID player, I hardly see the point in consistently doing so besides dogma.

You need a flexible mindset and a keen sense for dynamics when playing the KID, and this is true for the Benoni as well. So even if the openings look somewhat different at first glance they are fundamentally similar, and if you're comfortable with one of them you're probably also comfortable playing the other. One major point in not being afraid of playing ...c5 is that it is way more compatible with the goal of activating the bishop on g7 when compared to the ...e5 break, and you will be a lot more dangerous to your opponents as a KID player if you know how to properly handle the beast that is your dark-squared bishop.

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One of the points of the KID is its flexibility. You can optimize your setup according to what White does.

One of the points of Openings is to get a position you understand and are comfortable playing.

e5 is usually playable. I suggest playing it and see how you like it. Worse case is you may learn something.

I personally like playing all of the modern/kid/benoni/benko systems. The fluidity keeps things interesting.

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I am following this course on Chessable. It tries to avoid Benoni-type structures whereever possible and I like its suggestions, I highly recommend the course.

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