Marin: Winning against the King's Indian

by Davide Nastasio
4/30/2015 – "Do you want to learn tactics? Do you want to learn important pawn structures?", asks reviewer Davide Nastasio and recommends to study the King's Indian. With the help of renowned author and theoretician GM Mihail Marin who shows how to win against this popular opening - with the main line. At the same time Marin teaches a lot about chess.

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Knowing the King's Indian is a Must

I don't play the King's Indian, and I'm not sure if I will play it in the future. So why did I get this DVD? Because in the last fifty years or so the greatest battles of the greatest chess players have been fought around this opening. Thus, the road to mastery is clear: knowing the King's Indian is a must!

Just as it is important to read the classics of chess literature, it is equally essential to become familiar with classical structures. And the King's Indian teaches a player about all aspects of the game. Do you want to learn tactics? Do you want to learn important pawn structures? Do you want to learn the plans to attack on the kingside or defend on the queenside? This opening will teach you that.

Moreover, many of the top master players in my area have shown me some of their games and given me a good explanation of what was happening and why. I honestly was in awe about this opening, and understood that it was my duty to learn more and complete the formation of my chess persona.

Now let's examine the content of the DVD. The presenter is Romanian grandmaster Mihail Marin. He has won the Romanian championship multiple times, played in eleven chess Olympiads, and has been a candidate in the interzonal tournament at least twice (which is the main tournament played to qualify for the world championship). GM Marin's work as an opening theoretician and author is widely known, especially his series of books on the English Opening, and, of course, his collaboration on the Judit Polgar trilogy.

Now, why do we need a GM of Marin's caliber to teach us the King's Indian? Well, in today's world many amateurs think that computers can give us the winning lines and provide all the answers. In the case of the King's Indian this can be particularly dangerous and lead to disaster. In fact, Marin warns us about this very thing in the introductory video to the Mar del Plata attack with Nd2. While long generated computer lines are nearly impossible to remember, the ideas behind the moves are easy. With a few key points and phrases GM Marin had me understanding the ideas behind White's play in just a few seconds.

I also find GM Marin to be intellectually honest. He clearly states that he cannot arm us against all the possible lines available to Black in the King's Indian, but his promise is to give us the ideas behind the main moves, and the critical opening and middlegame positions needed to effectively play this opening. I also appreciate the passion with which Marin conveys his material. He emphatically hopes that the student will learn the tactics and the strategic subtleties of the system he teaches.

The content is divided as follows:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Nd2

Three videos are covering the lines beginning with 9...Nd7.
One video is covering 9...Ne8.
Four videos are covering 9...c5.
Eleven videos cover 9...a5.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0

Three videos cover the lines from 7...Nbd7.
Three videos cover the lines from 7...Na6.
Two videos cover the lines from 7...exd4.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2

One video covers 6...c5.
One video covers 6...Bg4.

Most of the videos alternate general explanations with quizzes, giving the viewer a chance to test their new-found knowledge and to reinforce their skills. The main database used for the videos is based on twenty-nine examples, while a further database of 286 deeply annotated games is also provided. Inside we find the games of many illustrious players, such as Fischer, Kasparov, Kasimdzhanov, Karpov, and Spassky (just to mention a few of the world champions who have employed this opening), along with Chuchelov (Caruana's coach), Gelfand (candidate to the world championship), and many others who have battled in the arena of the King's Indian.

I'd like to share one of the games from the database that I found particularly interesting. Chess authors often mainly show amazing wins made by the side they are promoting. This is nice for some inspiration, but not so useful to avoid tournament losses. In this game White lost, and in order to "Win with the King's Indian" one must learn how White loses and why. In this sense I find the selection of games made by GM Marin quite useful.

This game below demonstrates how tactics, sacrifice, and a tactical blunder can be common components in the King's Indian. I will add some comments for beginning players, because the intended audience of the DVD is geared toward a more advanced level.


Today's chess world is quite complex, the amount of knowledge we have at our disposal is bewildering: as GM Soltis once said, chess has become a case of TMI  (Too Much Information). In my reference database on the main line  proposed by GM Marin, I have more than 30,000 games! Thus, for me to decide as to which moves are good or bad is likely impossible. Marin's selection of deeply annotated games is a gold mine that every serious student must dig into.

A student cannot do this on their own, but with Marin's guidance the road to understanding has been paved and through  the videos, the questions posed, the training questions, and the sample games we see the gamut of ideas of this exciting opening in actual play.

I highly recommend Winning Against King's Indian with the Main Line for the advanced student who wishes to achieve a master level in chess. For beginners, I recommend The ABC of the King's Indian, 2nd edition by Andrew Martin.

Published with kind permission of © 2015 All Rights Reserved


Mihail Marin

Born in 1965, Mihail Marin has several times been Romanian champion and first made the leap over the Elo barrier of 2600 in 2001.

Marin possesses a rare gift for a grandmaster – he is able to explain in readily comprehensible terms the ideas behind moves, variations and positions. This ability is there for all to admire in his contributions to ChessBase Magazine. Marin has written books which have earned the highest of praise, among which are "Secrets of Chess Defence" and "Learn from the legends".

Marin lives in Bucharest and is married to women's international master Luiza Marin.

Sample Video: Mihail Marin: Winning against King's Indian - With the main line

Mihail Marin: Winning against King's Indian - With the main line

  • Video running time: 4 hours 11 min.
  • With interactive training including video feedback
  • Exclusive training database with 250 annotated grandmaster games
  • Including CB 12 Reader

Price: €29.90
€23.13 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU)
$28.45 (without VAT)
ISBN: 978-3-86681-456-1

This DVD can be purchased as a hard copy or it can be downloaded directly from the Internet, that way sparing you the few days needed for it to arrive by post.

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Davide is a novel chess aficionado who has made chess his spiritual tool of improvement and self-discovery. One of his favorite quotes is from the great Paul Keres: "Nobody is born a master. The way to mastery leads to the desired goal only after long years of learning, of struggle, of rejoicing, and of disappointment..."


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