Four Pawns Attack - Opening Principles - Chess Master (2023)

Four Pawns Attack - Opening Principles - Chess Master (1)Four Pawns Attack - Opening Principles - Chess Master (2)

One of Black's greatest fears in playing the King's Indian Defense is the

Diagram 212.

Chapter Eight

Four Pawns Attack (l.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6): 5.f4

As shown in Diagram 213, White's pawn center is quite imposing! What's worse from Black's perspective, the routine of ...d7-d6 and ...e7-e5 has been severely disrupted, and it is now impossible for Black to count on this maneuver. A change of plans is needed—and fast. However, don't despair! Although White has occupied the center, his pawns can easily become overextended. 5«i«c5

Black immediately attacks White's center and forces him to make a decision. 6.d5

White bypasses the c5-pawn. After 6.dxc5 Qa5!, Black threatens ...Nf6xe4, with a winning attack. White has to protect the e4-pawn: 7.Bd3 Qxc5 produces a crucial recapture. White is prevented from playing e4-e5 in the future, and play continues: 8.Nf3 0-0 9.Qe2 Bg4 10.Be3 Qa5 11.0-0 Nc6. Practice has shown the position to be dynamically equal.

White must be careful not to overextend his center. A mistake would be 7.e5? Ne8 8.Nf3 Bg4, when White's center collapses under Black's pressure. 7...b5!

Black makes a necessary pawn sacrifice that is similar to the Benko Gambit. Diagram 214 shows the position.

Black desperately, and correctly, tries to break up White's center. White must accept the sacrifice because .. .b5-b4 threatens to win the e^pawn. 8.cxb5

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A Solution to the Queen Pawn Opening

After 8.e5 dxe5 9.fxe5 Ng4! 10.Bf4 b4 ll.Ne4 Nd7, Black is well placed to meet White in the center.


White decides to cling to his extra pawn.

9...Nbd7 11.Bxb5 Ba6

10.Be2 axb5

Practice has shown that Black has compensation for his pawn. He will try to utilize the half-open b-file to create counterplay.

Four Pawns Attack - Opening Principles - Chess Master (3)

Diagram 214.

Samisch Variation

Another aggressive system against the KID is the Samisch Variation (l.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6): 5.f3

In this variation, White's intentions are cleverly disguised. At the posi-

jl tion shown in Diagram 215, White wants to play Bcl-e3, Qdl-d2, and castle long. He will attack on the Kingside in a style similar to the Yugoslav Attack of the Sicilian Dragon.

Because I like to play the Samisch Variation as White, I know that Black has to play carefully to gain a safe position. However, the Samisch Variation has an important drawback. In the words of Diagram 215.

Four Pawns Attack - Opening Principles - Chess Master (4)

Chapter Eight grandmaster Eduard Gufeld, "Please, ask the gl-Knight how he likes the move f2-f3. He has been robbed of his best square!"

This is probably the only time that Black should make this move before castling—an important nuance. Black is not worried about the ending 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 8.Bg5 c6 9.0-0-0+ Kc7, correctly believing that this middle game is not worse for him.

This is considered White's best chance of gaining an advantage. Recall from considering the Barcza Opening that a line like 6.Nge2 exd4 7.Nxd4 0-0 8.Be2 c6 has Black preparing the break .. .d6-d5, with a fine game.

Once again, Black plays for the positional plan of controlling the c5~ square. When the colors were reversed, White prefaced this move with a2-a4. 7.Be3

White sets up the attacking line previously outlined. 7...NH5

This move has a dual purpose: It clears the way for Black to play ...f7-f5


Four Pawns Attack - Opening Principles - Chess Master (5)

and possibly ...Qd8-h4+ in order to disrupt White's plan.


Diagram 216 shows one of the most interesting variations of the KID. Black can now play 8...f5, a key source of counterplay in the KID that gives him a fair game. Or he can try the Bronstein Variation:

Black invites White to trade Queens if he'd like.

Diagram 216.

10.Be3 Qh4+

A Solution to the Queen Pawn Opening

This invites a repetition, which is declined as follows:

11.g3 Nxg3 12.Qf2 Certainly White must avoid 12.Bf2? Nxfl, which would result in the loss of a pawn for White. Now, however, Black is forced to sacrifice his Queen:

12...Nxf1 13.Qxh4 Nxe3

Black has the threats of ...Ne3-g2+ and ...Ne3-c2+, so White now moves his King:

14.Ke2 Nxc4

As shown in Diagram 217, Black has a material deficit of two Bishops and two pawns for his Queen. Speaking bluntly, the position is absolutely gross and defies analysis. I've played Black's position against Kasparov and made an easy draw. Players who don't like to sacrifice their Queen should play 8...f5 instead. But please, do yourself the favor of playing out this position against a friend. It will be very rewarding. Play often continues:

15.b3 Nb6 16.Rc1 Bd7 17.Nh3 O-O 18.Nf2 f6 19.a4 Rae8

A fascinating game lies ahead. Clearly, the Samisch Variation is quite a challenging one for Black and he must be on his toes.

Averbach Variation

The purpose of f2-f3 in the Samisch Variation is to set up with Bcl-e3 and prevent ...Nf6-g4, which would harass White's Bishop. Isn't there another way White can do this without playing f2-f3? With this move, White covers the g4-square and initiates the Averbach Variation (l.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6):

Four Pawns Attack - Opening Principles - Chess Master (6)

Diagram 217.

Chapter Eicht



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The move is highly transpositional and we haven't reached the Aver-bach Variation quite yet.


Diagram 218.

This is the move that signals the Averbach Variation, as shown in Diagram 218.

White's sixth move is far more annoying than 6.Be3, because on the g5-square, the Bishop is far more active. When Black plays his freeing move ...e7-e5, he will place himself in a nasty pin. 6...c6

Black prepares to counter in the center. The immediate 6...e5? 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Nd5 would be a failure as Black loses material. 7.Qd2 e5

Now this break works because the d5-square is covered.

8.d5 cxd5


While it might be tempting to capture on d5 with the Knight, it is wrong; after playing 9.Nxd5 Nc6 10.0-0-0 Be6, Black's Knight goes to the d4-square and Black earns a good game. 9,..Nbd7 10.f3

In view of Black's impending pressure on the e4-pawn with ...Nd7-c5, White strengthens his center. 10. ..a5

As before, Black secures the c5-square.

12.Nf2 a4

A Solution to the Queen Pawn Opening

Theorists consider the position shown in Diagram 219 to be dynamically balanced.

King's Indian Defense, Main Line

By far, White's most popular way of meeting the KID is the main line, where White just develops his King-side, happy with his central gains (l.d4 NfB 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6):

5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 White's last two moves are interchangeable and some grandmasters enjoy the time their opponents spend reflecting about how they intend to meet the Averbach Variation!

Diagram 220 features the starting position of the main line King's Indian Defense. My colleague, grandmaster John Nunn, has written two 300-page books called The Main Line King's Indian (Henry Holt and Company, 1996) and The New Classical King's Indian (International Chess Enterprises, 1997), in which he goes into great detail about the strategic considerations facing both players. Needless to say, it is an impossible act to follow! My recommendation for Black is to play as follows: 7...exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8

9.f3 c6

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Four Pawns Attack - Opening Principles - Chess Master (7)

Diagram 220.

Chapter Eight

Black is ready to break out with ...d6-d5 or, at certain times, ...Qd8-b6, which can be an annoying move. 10.Kh1

This is the key move in this variation, as shown in Diagram 221.

White has tried other lines, including 10.Be3 and 10.Nc2, and is unable to gain any superiority. (One nice trick for Black is 10.Be3 d5 ll.cxdS Nxd5! 12.Nxd5 cxd5, leaving Black with no problems.) Instead, White gets off the a7-gl diagonal where his King might be vulnerable. 10...Nbd7

This is considered the most solid continuation. Black would dearly love to play the immediate ...d6-d5, but it fails: 10...d5 ll.cxdS cxd5 12.Bg5 dxe4 13.Ndb5! White's lead in development gives him the advantage. With the text, Black is prepared to put his Knight on either the e5- or cS-square and, in the cases of .. .d6-d5, the Knight can play to the b6-square.

White now has a large choice of moves, including ll.Nb3, ll.Nc2, ll.Rbl, and ll.Bf4. Theory considers this to be White's best move:


The f6-Knight is pinned and Black's ability to play .. .d6-d5 is slowed.

Black also has his choices, and ll...Qb6 and ll...Qa5 have been popular alternatives. I prefer the text for reasons that shall soon be clear:

12.Bh4 Ne5 13.Qc2

One trick that White must avoid is 13.Qd2? Nxe4! because the h4-Bishop is unprotected.

15.Nb3 Be6

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A Solution to the Queen Pawn Opening

These moves lead to the position shown in Diagram 222. Theory considers White's position to be slightly better, but I'm suspicious of this evaluation. Benoni players will be happy to have a powerful e5-Knight, and the b3-Knight is definitely out of play for some time. Black is certainly capable of raising a heck of a fuss. Take a close look at this position and see how much fun playing the KID can be!

Four Pawns Attack - Opening Principles - Chess Master (8)

Diagram 222.

Chapter Nine

Four Pawns Attack - Opening Principles - Chess Master (9)

Continue reading here: Solution to the King Pawn Opening

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Readers' Questions

  • Reeta Rinne

    How do pawns attack in chess?

    9 months ago

  • Pawns attack diagonally, one square forward and to either side. They can only move forward one square at a time, except for their very first move where they can move forward two squares. Pawns can capture other pieces of the opposing player that occupy the square they attack.
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