The King’s Indian Attack


The King’s Indian Attack (KIA) is actually more of a system for White which can be used against different openings, and not an opening itself. White will place his pieces in a certain way no matter what Black plays at first.

This setup is actually inspired in the King’s Indian Defense. White places his pieces in the same way as Black would in that opening, however, Black’s position in the KIA is often very different from White’s position in a typical King’s Indian Defense.

The idea is: after the development is completed, White usually goes for a central break or, more commonly, for a Kingside attack. Usually White’s expansion of the Kingside leads Black to perform an attack on the other side of the board, leaving us with an unbalanced game, with lots of different strategic themes.

The King’s Indian Attack can pretty much be used against any opening, since it is a setup and can be adapted. However, it works better against certain semi-open defenses, such as the french, the sicilian and the caro-kann.

The KIA is a very common choice against the French Defense, especially at amateur level. It is known for maintaining good initiative and avoiding some of the complex strategic themes that most variations of the French hold.

Most of the times, Black does manage to equalize if he knows what he’s doing, so this might not be the most ambitious choice against the French Defense.

The Open Sicilian is a world full of options and theory to know. Because of that, if you don’t want to spend hours learning move orders, choosing this solid setup can be a great choice to get an active position without having to memorize all of those.

The King’s Indian Attack is also a solid choice against the Caro-Kann. However, is is known for being better against the French, since one of Black’s main plans will be to go e5, and Black has already moved the e-pawn in the French Defense.

Why Play The King’s Indian Attack?

The King’s Indian Attack is a very solid option for those who don’t want to spend hours learning Opening’s theory. It is fairly easy to play, because the move order usually is not very important and the plans don’t differ too much depending on Black’s choices.

This setup has a specially good reputation against the French Defense, and many players decide to use it only if Black goes 1… e6. However, it can be used against many different Openings, which can save you from a lot of concerns!

Even though it is considered a solid and strategic option, it is called an attack for a reason: White has a good amount of attacking resources on the King’s Indian Attack.

Every move explained

King’s Indian Attack against the French Defense

How To Reach It

This line happens after the following moves:

  1. e4 e6
  2. d3 d5

You can see these moves below:

Why play the KIA against the French?

The KIA has a very good reputation against the French, partially because if Black wants to go e5, like he does in many variations, he has already lost a tempo by going 1… e6.

White's Moves

Develop the Knights to d2 and f3

The combination of these Knights gives White both a solid position and a steady control of the centre.

Fianchetto the f1-Bishop and castle

The h1-a8 diagonal is a very good place for the Bishop. Having a Bishop on g2 will also help White to control some important central squares.

After White takes this Bishop out of the way he should castle on the Kingside.

When White does castle, having a Bishop on g2 also improves his King’s protection.

Go c3 to support the centre

Playing the move c3 helps White to control the d4-square and eventually support a d3-d4 break in the centre.

Black's moves

Expand in the centre with c5

Playing c5 allows Black to have some extra control of the centre. Note that these positions could include transpositions to the KIA against sicilians with e6.

Castle on the Kingside

The Kingside is the safest place for Black’s king, however, he must be aware of White possible attacks on this side of the board.

Expand on the Queenside

Since White will try to expand on the centre or even create a Kingside attack, Black’s natural response is to expand on the other side of the board

King’s Indian Attack against the Sicilian

How To Reach It

This line happens after the following moves:

  1. e4 c5
  2. d3

You can see these moves below:

Why play the KIA against the Sicilian?

Choosing an Anti-Sicilian is usually a good idea if you want to avoid the hours of study that come with open Sicilians. The KIA has a good reputation against sicilians where Black play e6, but is also good against the other ones. If you want to make the King’s Indian Attack a major weapon of your repertoire, it is important to keep in mind the most common themes against the sicilian.

White's Moves

Play a4 to fight Black’s Queenside attack

This move helps White to get some space at this side of the board. It also controls the b5-square, which is very important because Black often wants to break by going b5 himself.

Go c3 and maybe d4

The move c3 is very common and helps White to get some extra central control. This move also has the purpose of preparing a break in the centre with d4.

Fianchetto the f1-Bishop

The h1-a8 diagonal is the best place for White’s light-squared Bishop. Here it controls some important central squares and helps to protect White’s King.

Black's moves

Attack on the Queenside

Black’s normal reaction to White’s expansion in the centre is a Queenside attack, often accompanied by the advance of the b-pawn.

Fianchetto the f8-Bishop

Black also wants to fianchetto this Bishop and get it in a very active diagonal.

King’s Indian Attack against the Caro-Kann

How To Reach It

This variation happens after the following moves:

  1. e4 c6
  2. d3 d5

You can see these moves below:

Why play the KIA against the Caro-Kann?

The KIA is a strong setup against the Caro-Kann. It can be a good idea if you want to try a different line against this solid opening, or if you want to make the KIA a common weapon in your repertoire to avoid studying lots of theory.

The best advantage is that, if you play this system against different openings, you are already familiarized with where your pieces belong and what your plans should be.

White's Moves

Fianchetto the f1-Bishop

A typical King’s Indian Attack idea: place the bishop in the h1-a8 diagonal, where it aims at the centre of the board.

Go c3

Again a typical theme in KIA positions: going c3 in order to control the central d4-square.

Bring the rook to e1 to maneuver the knight

This maneuver can be a very interesting resource in these positions: When White places the f1-rook on the e1-square, the f1-square is left free and the Knight on d2 can be maneuvered and go to e3 via f1.

Black's moves

Go e5

Black wants to fight for the centre by advancing this pawn. This move is very important since in the Caro-Kann defense Black hasn’t moved this pawn yet. It the French Defense and sicilians with e6 Black has already moved this pawn, which means he will lose a tempo if he wants to go e5. Caro-kann players should use this advantage and go e5 early in the game against the KIA.

Expand on the Queenside with a5

Since in the Caro-kann Black is focused on achieving a strong centre, Queenside attacks might seem less attractive. However, it is still a good idea to gain some space on this side of the board by advancing the a-pawn.

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