Chess Training: Kasimdzhanov's King's Indian

12/14/2011 – "If you play or are considering playing the King's Indian," writes Steven Dowd at the Chess Cafe, "this DVD will be a big boon to your understanding. And as it is idea-based, many of the ideas here apply well to openings such as the Pirc and Modern as well. Don't pass up the opportunity to learn some complicated ideas about chess from a world champion! Don't miss it.

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Playing on the Flanks:
Not Just for Hypermoderns

By Steven B. Dowd

A World Champion's Guide to the King's Indian, 2nd ed. (DVD), by Rustam Kasimdzhanov, ChessBase. Playing Time: 7 hours. $36.95 (ChessCafe Price: $30.95).

With seven hours of running time, and an update that includes many new games by Kasimdzhanov and other players, this is a real bargain, especially at the ChessCafe.com price of only $30.95. It is, as advertised, "a perfect tool for players looking for a complicated battle against 1.d4," as well as,"structural insights and an array of ideas." I've always admired the King's Indian Defense, although I never have been able to play it as well as I would like. In the annotations to one of the games, Kasimdzhanov notes that Bronstein once noted that the Evans Gambit was not just a chess opening, but a chess school, making the King's Indian the equivalent of a chess university! I find I must agree.

The material is divided as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Classical Variation: Atalik-Kasimdzhanov
  • g3 Variation: Neverov-Kasimdzhanov
  • Be3 Variation: Intro
  • Be3 Variation: Sasikirian-Kasimdzhanov
  • b4 Variation: Intro
  • b4 Variation: Bacrot-Kasimdzhanov
  • Pawn structure
  • Saemisch variation: Abolianin-Kasimdzhanov
  • Letelier Martner-Fischer
  • Update
  • Elijianov-Radjabov
  • Elianov-Radjabov
  • Gelfand-Radjabov
  • Wang Yue-Radjabov
  • Gelfand-Radjabov
  • Margvelashvilli-Kasimdzhanov
  • Vescovi-Radjabov
  • 9.b4
  • Wrap-Up

With so many lessons packed with ideas, it is difficult to select illustrative sections; nevertheless, here is small sampling of one of the update games that I find the most fascinating, with the annotations based on the ideas presented by Kasimdzhanov.

[Event "WchT 7th"] [Site "Bursa"] [Date "2010.01.11"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Vescovi, Giovanni P"] [Black "Radjabov, Teimour"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E90"] [WhiteElo "2660"] [BlackElo "2733"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2010.01.05"] [EventType "team-tourn"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "TUR"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2010.01.18"] [WhiteTeam "Brazil"] [BlackTeam "Azerbaijan"] [WhiteTeamCountry "BRA"] [BlackTeamCountry "AZE"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. h3 {Although 6.h3 is considered a sideline, it is a multifaceted move that not only prevents Bg4 and Ng4, it also plans g4, Be3, and Nd2, preventing Black's kingside operations.} e5 7. d5 Nh5 {The standard reply, making 8.g4? a bad move, since the knight can then plant itself on f4 with good counterplay.} 8. g3 a5 {A standard position from this line. Both sides have advantages and disadvantages associated with their position. For example, Black would prefer to have the knight on f6, but withdrawing it here would cost time.} 9. Bg2 Na6 10. O-O Nc5 11. Be3 Bd7 12. Ne1 b6 13. Kh2 Qe8 14. Bf3 f5 {Finally Black decides to strike out after patiently waiting and building up his position. This will involve a piece sacrifice.} 15. exf5 e4 16. Be2 Bxf5 17. g4 Qe5+ {At the cost of a piece to come, Black has weakened White's kingside.} 18. Kg1 Nf4 19. Bxf4 Qxf4 20. Ng2 Qh6 21. gxf5 gxf5 {Black has only a pawn for the piece, but his advantages are easy to see. Every single one of his pieces has the potential to infiltrate the kingside.} 22. f4 Qxh3 23. Qd2 {White has started well with his defense. But it probably isn't enough.} Kf7 $5 ({Here Kasimdzhanov thinks that } 23... Rf6 {might be better, with 23...Kf7 too slow.} 24. Qe3 Rh6 25. Qxh3 Rxh3 {I'll note that my Fritz 11 initially assigns only the smallest of pluses to White here. Kasimdzhanov thinks Black still has good chances in the endgame. But when I let Fritz run for a while and play out some possible continuations, it finds the game continuation to be best. In fact, I believe it is winning, contrary to the world champion's analysis.}) 24. Rfe1 $2 (24. Qe3 {was the best chance here as well, as in allowing ...Rg8 without a challenge, White gives Black an easy winning advantage. There will simply be too many threats. After 24.Qe3, Black has to sacrifice another piece with 24...Bd4! and is probably still winning. The queen has to capture, and is not well-placed on d4, and Black now has time to place his powerful rooks on the g-file.} Bd4 25. Qxd4 Rg8 26. Rf2 Rg3 27. Bf1 Rag8 28. Rd2 ({or} 28. Re1 {etc.}) 28... Qh4 29. Nd1 R8g6 30. Rc1 e3 {and this looks winning to me. After 24.Qe3, Kasimdzhanov only gives 24...Qh6?, after which it does appear that White is out of the frying pan and the fire. He can follow up with the defensive move 25.Kf2!, after which Rh1 is threatened. I am uncertain why he did not mention the possibility of 24...Bd4!.}) 24... Rg8 25. Bf1 Nd3 {Now "all Black pieces walk into the White position." The game is, for practical purposes, over.} 26. Nb5 Bh6 27. Re3 Nxf4 28. Rxh3 Nxh3+ 29. Kh2 Bxd2 30. Kxh3 Rg5 31. Rd1 Rag8 32. Rxd2 Rh5+ 33. Nh4 Rg4 34. Kh2 Rgxh4+ 35. Kg1 Rh1+ 0-1

If you play or are considering playing the King's Indian, this DVD will be a big boon to your understanding. And as it is idea-based, many of the ideas here apply well to openings such as the Pirc and Modern as well. There appear to be a few flaws in the analysis, as noted above, but these are few and far between, and again, I think the idea-based approach trumps pure analysis in most cases when it comes to opening preparation (you can always fire up your engines for help with analysis, but most of us need help with ideas). Don't pass up the opportunity to learn some complicated ideas about chess from a world champion!

My assessment of this product: Great (five out of six stars)


Samplers from Rustam Kasimdzhanov King's Indian


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