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My last opening of choice as White was the King's Indian Attack to avoid having to learn a lot of opening lines, it being a system opening. I've read Eric Schiller's and Ken Smith's books on the KIA. I get the planned control of e5 and the desired strong piece and pawn presence on the kingside for an attack but rarely seem to be able to bring home the point. The sample games I look at always seem to find strong continuations. Am I just seeing the successful games? Does this suggest basically a tactical shortcoming on my part, or could I be missing something else critically important that I need to know about the opening for complete understanding? I seem fairly tactically astute in open games. I might add that I haven't been particularly successful with the companion King's Indian Defense either. Maybe positional play just isn't my forte.

The following game is the most recent KIA from several days ago against the computer, which although flawed by the blunder on move #30 yet will illustrate what I'm talking about.

[FEN ""]
[White "Conero"]
[Black "SparkChess"]

1.Nf3 g6 2.d3 d5 3.Nbd2 Bg4 4.g3 Bxf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg2 Nf6 7.O-O Bg7 8.c3 O-O 9.Qc2 Nc6 10. Bf4 b5 11.e4 Ng4 12.Rad1 f5 13.Rfe1 fxe4 14.dxe4 Nf6 15.e5 Nd7 16.h4 a5 17.a3 a4 18.Bh3 Nc5 19.Ng5 Qe7 20.Qe2 Rab8 21.h5 h6 22.Nf3 gxh5 23.Nd4 Qe8 24.Nxc6 Qxc6 25.Qxh5 Qe8 26.Qg4 h5 27.Qg5 Ne4 28.Qh4 c6 29. f3 Nc5 30.g4? Rxf4 0-1
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  • Regarding your game Conero - SparkChess, I honestly believe that 17.a4! would give you strong initiative. On 17...b4 18.c4!, yet on ...bxa4 you have clear advantage... – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jul 19 '15 at 7:05
  • After looking through that game again, why on Earth did you close the center with 15.e5 when you were clearly better developed? With ed and Bg5 you get such a pressure... – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Jul 19 '15 at 7:09

10 Answers 10

8

Am I just seeing the successful games?

Of course! If you were writing a book trying to sell / promote a particular opening you wouldn't call it something like "How to Lose with the KIA". Nor would you fill it full of games where white played the KIA and lost. You'd fill it full of games where white won.

I get the planned control of e5 and the desired strong piece and pawn presence on the kingside for an attack but rarely seem to be able to bring home the point.

Hey! You know what? That's chess. It's a pretty even game. The thing is, every time you move your opponent gets a move too. There is no forced win for white from move one and nor is there a forced win for either white or black at the end of the "book" part of almost all openings.

Your realistic aim should be to get a good playable position out of your chosen opening with white, a position you feel comfortable in, one where you know and understand the plans that follow from that particular opening. Then it's an even game. If your opponent understands the position and plays it better than you then he will likely win. If not and you both play it with equal understanding and ability it will be a draw. Only if you play the resulting positions better than your opponents will you win.

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5

I think the main mistake people make when playing the KIA is to play for the kingside attack regardless of the position, and assuming that they are automatically going to get Fischer-Myagmarsuren by playing the same moves as white each time, regardless of what black does. If you look at modern GM games in the KIA, these kind of attacks are a rarity because everyone has seen the old Fischer and Benko crushes from the 60s and knows how to defend against them.

Others have pointed out that 15.e5 is a mistake, and the subsequent attempt to play for a non-existent kingside attack which black fends off quite easily. White is better centralised and has the two bishops, and black's queenside pawn structure is a bit loose, so opening the position with 15.exd5 makes more sense. After the e-file opens up, the e6 square also looks very weak. Off the top of my head, 15.exd5 exd5 16.Ng5 looks quite annoying for black to face.

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I took a liberty to embed your game into the answer.

[fen ""]

1.Nf3 g6 2.d3 d5 3.Nbd2 Bg4 4.g3 Bxf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg2 Nf6 7.O-O Bg7 8.c3 O-O 9.Qc2 Nc6 10. Bf4 b5 11.e4 Ng4 12.Rad1 f5 13.Rfe1 fxe4 14.dxe4 Nf6 15.e5 Nd7 16.h4 a5 17.a3 a4 18.Bh3 Nc5 19.Ng5 Qe7 20.Qe2 Rab8 21.h5 h6 22.Nf3 gxh5 23.Nd4 Qe8 24.Nxc6 Qxc6 25.Qxh5 Qe8 26.Qg4 h5 27.Qg5 Ne4 28.Qh4 c6 29. f3 Nc5 30.g4? Rxf4

It is a pretty decent game until 15. e5, which strikes me as anti-positional. It releases a tension in the center (mostly rendering your Rooks passive); it blocks your dark-square Bishop; it creates a target for Black Bishop. Having played it nevertheless, I would consider an entirely different plan involving a Knight sacrifice at e6, starting with 16. Ng5 threatening the fork, and 17. Ne6 followed by 18. Bd5.

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  • 15. exd5 is MUCH better, HTRYC should help you with this. – limits Jul 17 '15 at 20:03
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The result of this game has nothing to do with the opening.

I would like to point a nice combination you could have played and that is quite typical for KIA: give a piece to open the opponent castle.

At move 22, instead of retreating the knight with 22.Nf3 you can get a complex attack with:

22.hxg6!? hxg5 23.Qh5 threatening mate on h7, and then

  • 23...Bh8 24.Bxg5 Qd7 25.Rxd5!

  • 23...Rfe8 24.Bxg5 Q-a.l. 25.Qh7+ Kf8 26.Bh6 followed by Qh8

  • 23...Rxf4! 24.gf4 (24.Qh7+ Kf8) gf4 with a mess.

In diagram:

[fen ""]

1.Nf3 g6 2.d3 d5 3.Nbd2 Bg4 4.g3 Bxf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg2 Nf6 7.O-O Bg7 8.c3 O-O 9.Qc2 Nc6 10. Bf4 b5 11.e4 Ng4 12.Rad1 f5 13.Rfe1 fxe4 14.dxe4 Nf6 15.e5 Nd7 16.h4 a5 17.a3 a4 18.Bh3 Nc5 19.Ng5 Qe7 20.Qe2 Rab8 21.h5 h6 22.Nf3 gxh5 (22.hxg6!? hxg5 23.Qh5 Bh8 (23...Rfe8 24.Bxg5 Qd7 25.Qh7+ Kf8 26.Bh6) (23...Rxf4!) 24.Bxg5 Qd7 25.Rxd5!) 23.Nd4 Qe8 24.Nxc6 Qxc6 25.Qxh5 Qe8 26.Qg4 h5 27.Qg5 Ne4 28.Qh4 c6 29. f3 Nc5 30.g4? Rxf4
2

How is Black supposed to defend after 13. Ng5? The idea is that it knocks out Black's defense of the d5 square, hence the a2-g8 and h1-a8 diagonals because if Black plays something like 13... Re8 14. Nxe6 Rxe6 15. exd5 White wins material.

The answer the original question is that Black lets you take their stuff and you don't just take it to the bank.
r2q1rk1/p1p3bp/2n1p1p1/1p1p1p2/4PBn1/2PP1NP1/PPQ2PBP/3R1RK w - - 0 13

1. Ng5 e5 2. Ne6 Qd6 3. Nxf8 exf4 4. Ne6 fxg3 5. hxg3 dxe4 6. dxe4 Qxe6 7. exf5 gxf5 8. Qb3 Qxb3 9. axb3 Nge5 10. f4

It’s just a sample variation, but hopefully it can be seen that Black's vulnerabilities on the h1-a8 diagonal can be exposed if White choose to play smashmouth chess.

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If your rating is up to 1400 at least, you probably need to develop planning skills.

Silman's "How to Reassess your Chess" is a highly recommended book by many chess players. It covers planning based on imbalances.

If you have a strong player look over some of your games, they will likely be able to point out something you are misunderstanding.

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0

The most likely reason is you.
You are not as good as your opponents.
That would be the obvious reason.

Perhaps also that the KIA does not really fit your chess abilities as well as some other opening. Do you win at higher rates against the same people with a different opening?

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There are already excellent answers. But, I would like to add something. In hypermodern-style openings, timing is very important. In these openings, we (almost) give up center in the beginning only to strike back at an opportune moment. This is why many answers here readily point out that in your game exd5 fits in much better (than the move played e5). This particular move may not be common in the KIA games you see. But, one has to think and play flexibly to get practical chances. Although king's Indian attack is cut out for king-side attack, sometimes you have to go for queen-side attack (or on both wings).

Most importantly, you have to really look out for the opportunities.

In your game, the following are examples of continuations I would analyze (not necessarily play).
1} 13.exd5 exd5 14.Qb3 (with Ng5 to follow)
2} 20.Be3
3} 24.Nxb5

The move 15.Ng5 given by John Smith here also looks like an opportunity to seize the initiative.

I recommend focusing on your weaknesses when you play against actual people (rather than computer); psychology is a big factor in making hypermodern openings work. Best wishes.

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  1. Ng5! looks almost winning to my eye.

The e6 pawn is a very serious weakness. Playing 15.e5 makes it harder to pressure that weak pawn, while 15. Ng5 (with ideas of Bh3 and the like) ties Black down. I don't see any way for Black to defend

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Learning openings at below 1800 makes absolutely no sense. And even above -> I'd up to 2100 it makes no sense to seriously study openings, as you do not have the proper skills to convert what ever achieved (either make a draw from an equal position or win from a better position). Of course, you need to know some stuff to not lose immediately or fall for any traps. But with ratings <2100 your aim should be to first learn to play decent chess!! -> Hence I totally agree with over-the-board and also his recommendations!! So work hard and play hard -> and if there's a chance also hit hard ;-D (btw: its always hard to come up with some rating bounds -> those I mentioned are just a rough direction ...)

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  • It's more like < 1550 or so for openings - the material balance is quite volatile below that level and so slight advantages are inconsequential. But a decent player from 1500 to 2100 would benefit from openings because they don't hang material. – limits Jul 17 '15 at 18:07

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