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Zadock's Kings Indian Attack

The Sicilian Defence has the largest chapter in the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings. This is because of its myriad variations that black can employ after 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3.

Many chess players facing the Sicilian usually dread not knowing what sub-variation their opponent is going to play and therefore steer clear of the mainline Sicilian and instead go for other openings they have more control over.

Only one of these so-called anti-Sicilians have superior results and that is the 2.c3 which scores 51.1% as compared to 2. Nf3 which scores marginally less at 51.0%. Most of the others simply score less than 50%. Black usually wins a slight psychological battle if white avoids the mainline.

So, after 2. Nf3 d6 in this game Zadock chose 3. g3 which is one of the easiest to learn anti-Sicilians- the Kings Indian Attack. It must be noted that after 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 the best plan for black is to also fianchetto the dark squared bishop: 4…g6 5.d3 Bg7. There are 2 main reasons for this: i) the pawn chain from e7 to c5 blocks out the dark squared bishop so he must find another diagonal to be useful, ii) g6 stops the typical advance of the Kings Indian Attack knights to their optimal squares on f5 and h5.

The Kings Indian Attack is not an opening as much as a System. In fact, the other name of this opening is the Barcza System named after Grandmaster Gedeon Barcza (picture below) who was 8 times Hungarian National Champion and one of the worlds top players along with Alexander Alekhine, Max Euwe, Paul Keres and Efim Bogoljubow.

GM Gedeon Barcza of Hungary

The reason it is called a system is that white can easily switch move orders in the opening to achieve the same formation. The British chess writer Harry Glombek once said of Barcza “He is a most versatile player in the openings. He plays g2–g3 sometimes on the first, sometimes on the second, sometimes on the third, and sometimes not until the fourth move."

So let us examine this Barcza System.

It is also known as the reversed Kings Indian because white employs the same structure as in black’s Kings Indian Defense only with an extra tempo. The Kings Indian Defense is a dynamic opening heavy in theory, exciting middlegame ideas sacrifices and even sudden mating nets. The white twin is, on the contrary, a lot less structured and can easily evolve into several other openings like the Reti, English, Catalan or Nimzo-Larsen openings. Against the Sicilian if white employs 5.Nc3 instead of g3 the game can even transpose to the closed Sicilian which has a relatively much lower score for white (32.4%).

The starting moves can be so varied, but the final structure remains the same (see below).

One of the most skilled exponents of the Barcza System is GM Amin Bassem, Africa’s highest rated player. His is the standard by which, if you are to play the King’s Indian Attack at any level, you should try to achieve.

GM Amin Bassem

 Here is the game that was played in round 5 of the Africa Amarteur Chess Championship 2022 between Zadock Nyakundi and Lenox Mangi.

Zadock Nyakundi - Lenox Mangi [B30]





[B30: Sicilian: 2...Nc6 3 Bb5, lines without ...g6]


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.d3 e5 


[Our hero GM Amin prefers 6.0–0 in this position but as is the nature of the KIA the moves will transpose to the same position.]



[6.0–0 Be7 (6...g6 7.c3 Bg7 8.a3 0–0 9.b4 b6 10.Nbd2 h6 11.Bb2 g5 12.Nc4 Be6 13.Ne3 Ne7 14.Nd2 d5 15.exd5 Nfxd5 16.Nxd5 Bxd5 17.Nf3 Ng6 18.c4 Bc6 19.Re1 Qd6 20.b5 Bd7 21.Nd2 Amin,B (2695)-Indjic,A (2607) INT 2021 0–17.Nc3 0–0 8.Bg5 Be6 9.a4 h6 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.Nd2 g6 12.Nc4 a6 13.Nd5 Bxd5 14.exd5 Na5 15.Nd2 Bg7 16.c3 b6 17.Rb1 Rc8 18.b4 Nb7 19.Qb3 cxb4 20.cxb4 b5 Amin,B (2686)-Delgado Ramirez,N (2619) Batumi 2018 1–0 (84)]


6.c3 Be7 7.0–0 Bg4?! [Not a very useful move as the Bishop has to control the center directly. This is not a true pin since the knight is defended by the Bg2 and the white queen can simply go about her business. Better to develop the Bishop to e6 or as in the games below to castle. GM Firouza won a fine game against GM Amin by putting the bishop on the long diagonal.]


[7...0–0 8.Re1 (8.a3 a5 9.a4 h6 10.Na3 Bg4 11.h3 Be6 12.Nd2 Nd7 13.Ndc4 f5 14.exf5 Rxf5 15.Nb5 Nb6 16.Qe2 d5 17.Ne3 Rf7 18.f4 exf4 19.gxf4 Qd7 20.f5 Bxf5 21.Nxf5 Rxf5 22.Rxf5 Qxf5 Pechen,Y (2721)-Koval,A (2430) INT 2020 1–0 (35)8...h6 9.h3 Re8 10.a3 Bf8 11.b4 b6 12.Bb2 Bb7 13.Nbd2 Qc7 14.Rc1 Rad8 15.d4 Qd7 16.d5 Ne7 17.Nc4 Ba6 18.Nfd2 Rc8 19.Bf1 Bb5 20.Qe2 Ba4 21.Ba1 cxb4 22.cxb4 Amin,B (2662)-Firouzja,A (2456) Doha 2016 0–1 (72)]


8.h3 [The position is equal because this now sets up a target for black on h3]




8...Be6 [The Bishop should have come here in one move.]


9.Re1 0–0 10.Nbd2


[10.c4= closes the centre and allows White to continue with the King’s side attack unopposed.]




[ Black should play 10...Qc8? 11.Ng5 Bd7 12.Kh2 Ng4+ 13.hxg4 Bxg5 14.f3 and the White Bishop on g2 is converted into a tall pawn.]



11.Nf1 Qd7 12.Kh2


[12.Ng5  is more appropriate targeting the Be6]




[ Better is 12...h6= to prevent Ng5]





[This weakens White’s King side and gives Black time to regroup. Better is to strike at the center with13.d4 0.48/20 exd4 14.cxd4 cxd4 15.Nxd4 This d4 break for white opens up the game and sets a target on d6 that, if black tries to defend will have to put their pieces in awkward positions. Rooks are not connected then, if Rad8 the queen side has no defender. Basically, White has all the fun.]




[White's plan is clear-all out-King side assault. Black doesn't seem to have a clear-cut plan. When the dark squared Bishop is away g6 is a recipe for disaster as it weakens the dark squares around the black king. If your opponent attacks on the flanks, then you should attack in the centre. Black should try 13...Nc7= 14.Ng3 Rad8 15.Nf5 Bf6 16.Be3 Rfe8]




[14.d4  might be stronger.14...exd4 15.cxd4 cxd4 16.Bh6]


14...Bf6 15.Be3


[15.Bh6 Bg7 16.Bxg7 Nxg7 17.d4]


15...Rc8 16.Qd2


[Again, here16.d4? cxd4 17.cxd4 exd4 18.Nxd4 would open up the center for White’s pieces to attack]


16...b4= 17.c4


17...Nd4 [Don’t rush!17...Rb8=  keeps the balance. 18.Bh6 Bg7 19.Bxg7 Nxg7 20.Ne2 f6 and White’s attack comes to an end]


18.Nxd4? exd4 19.Bh6 Ng7


[19...Bg7?  is better. The game move sets up an eternal pin that only White can release]


20.f4+– [White is clearly winning! That f pawn is going to put a wedge in Blacks position imprisoning the Black King.]



20…Qc7 21.g5 Bd8 22.Bxg7 [Premature]


[22.f5!+–that pawn is a battering ram. White must keep up the momentum]


22...Kxg7? 23.f5? [ White is on a roll.]




Find the best move for White.

24.f6+! Kh8 25.Qf4 [ Qh4 is the strong threat.]





Find the best move for White.



[26.e5! dxc4 27.Qh4 Rg8 28.Re4 and White sets up a mating net]


26.Qxc7 Bxc7 27.exd5 [ Black must now prevent h4.]


[ Of course not 27.cxd5 Be5=]


27...Rfe8 [27…Bf5 targeting d3 slows down White’s attack]


Find the best move for White.










[28...h5  was necessary. 29.Bh3 Rxe1 30.Rxe1 Re8]


29.Rxe1 Re8 30.Rxe8+ Bxe8


31.Bh3 a5 32.Kg2 Ba4 33.Ne4 Bb6?



[33...Bc2 34.Nxc5 a4 complicates things a little. White is still winning but they must be super accurate]

34.b3 Bxb3 35.axb3 h6 36.Bd7 hxg5 37.hxg5


[White threatens d6 and mate.]


37...Bd8 38.Nxc5


1–0 Black resigned


Lessons to be learned:

1.     Know your opening well. This is essential especially now in the computer age where novelties can appear in the first 5 moves.

2.     When you are attacking, attack!

3.     In closed positions try and improve your worst placed piece then find the pawn break

4.     If you are the defender do not allow your king to be imprisoned with a pawn wedge because you will need the King as a fighting piece in the endgame.

5.     Even if your opponent has the advantage try and find complications so that they use up more time and are more likely to blunder in time trouble.



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