Inspired by the Nakamura/Rozman vs. Naroditsky/Hess team game a few months ago.

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1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. h3 O-O 6. Be3 c6 7. Nf3 Na6 8. Bd3 e5 9. d5 Nh5 10. O-O!? Nf4 11. a3 Nxd3 12. Qxd3 c5 13. Nd2 f5 14. f3 f4 15. Bf2 g5 16. Rfb1 h5 17. Kf1 Rf6 18. Ke2

Why does White castle kingside if they're just going to run with the King afterwards? I remember Nakamura saying at this point that they have Kf1-e2 if Black goes for the typical kingside attack, and GM Leiato's analysis says the same after 17. Kf1 ("A typical plan, running away with the king.") But if White is going to do that, why castle kingside in the first place? It places the king in Black's attack. Why not castle queenside instead - or even, considering where the King ended up, just play 10. Ke2?

  • You have a point, and there are lines in the KI where white waits with O-O for that reason. The Gligoric Variation is an example. Commented 14 hours ago

2 Answers 2


Between 10.0-0 and 17.Kf1, the pawn structure has changed.

12...c5 and 14...f4 have closed the center forever, ensuring that the white king will feel very safe here while Black only active plan can be on the kingside, linked with g5,h5,g4.

If White had delayed castling Black wouldn't have closed the center. Moreover, it is unclear what progress White could have engineered without connecting their rooks: 12.Qc2 f5, and then what ? Castling Q-side is dangerous because Black can prepare ...b5, going for 13.a3, 14.b4 slows down development and doesn't threaten much, so probably White would need 0-0 soon anyway.

On the other hand, if on move 14 Black had kept the pawn tension on e4-f5 (e.g. 14...Nc7, intending ...Bd7, ...Qe7, ...Rb8), then White would have kept their king on g1 and taken advantage or their connected rooks, most probably with 15.Rab1 and 16.b4.

  • If Black goes for ...b5 after O-O-O, the g7-bishop would not be participating, no? Presumably the bishop needs ...f5 to get an open diagonal.
    – Allure
    Commented Jun 9 at 3:07
  • @Allure : depending on the circumstances, ...f5 might happen if it doesn't open the kingside too much. But notice that in an opposite-castles situation, the "bad" Bg7 already fulfills an important defensive role. If you get an open long diagonal aiming at b2, it will become a monster, but even without that, opening two files on the Q-side should give Black enough counterplay.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jun 10 at 9:39

The answer is twofold:

The first thing is: one aspect of the overall plan in the Kings Indian is to attck on both wings. Black (and White as well) regularly switch from attacking kingside over to attacking queenside or vice versa. This is why White - in general - tries to put off the decision where to castle as long as possible.

In the Makogonov system (5. h3) White usually develops the knight g1 to e2 (and then g3, where it covers e4, restricting blacks Bg7, as well as f5, helping to prevent Blacks typical maneuvre f7-f5). The problem in the shown game, though, is, that the knight is good on e2 ONLY in the Kings Indian. It would be bad there in the Ben-Oni, where it should go to f3. By putting off the decision about Kings Indian (e7-e5) or Ben-Oni (c7-c5) as long as possible Black forces White to decide first. In the KID, though, the knight is not optimally placed on f3. From there it does nothing to cover e4 and f5 which makes it easier for black to execute the main idea of the KID, the move f7-f5.

Another thing is: attacking (that goes for both sides) takes place on the wings and the center remains closed for a very long time. This is why the king is safer in the center once black has committed to attack on the kingside. In addition the white king moved off the first rank thereby allowing the white rooks to switch from one side to the other rapidly. Right now (move 18) the white rooks are engaged on the queenside but it would take them one move to switch over. Compare that to the black rook on f6: if it would have to go to the queenside it would take 2-3 moves.

  • Ne2-g3 is also an interesting plan against the Benoni, actually.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jun 10 at 9:40
  • @Evargalo: actually no, the knight would be misplaced in the Ben-Oni. This is because in the KID there is a black pawn on e5 and the pawn e4 blocks it and hence restricts the bishop g7. This is why white has to reinforce e4 and prevent f7-f5. In the Ben-Oni there is no pawn on e5 and the black bishop is unrestricted anyway, therefore there is no point in reinforcing e4 or f5.
    – bakunin
    Commented Jun 10 at 9:55
  • The Ng3 is not there for defensive purposes... chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1151211
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jun 10 at 13:17

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