Structures in Practice – The King’s Indian Type I

I write this blog to share some of the ideas from my book Chess Structures, published earlier this year. Each blog posts expands upon some of the concepts shown in my book, by analyzing a recent game amont strong players.

 

Last week the US Junior Championship took place in Saint Louis, where many of the nation’s best youngsters competed for the coveted title. At the end, International Master Aksath Chandra won the event with 7 points out of 9 possible, closely followed by GM-elect Jeffrey Xiong with 6.5 points and IM Arthur Shen with 6 points. For many spectators, including myself, one of the main attractions of this event was seeing Liang Awonder’s games. He just turned 12 a couple of months ago, and his FIDE rating is an amazing 2404, which makes him #2 in the world within the under 12 division, and certainly one of the most promising players the US has ever produced.    Most would expect such a young player to be an extremely strong tactician, and a ratherweak strategist, due to his young age – often good strategy and patience come with age. But to my surprise, Liang Awonder can be an excellent strategical player, as you will see in the next game. The game started out with a King’s Indian Defence, and after an early pawn trade …cxd5 and cxd5, queens were traded and Liang obtained a strategically superior endgame, which he won with class. I am sure he even knew, as early as move ten, that the resulting ending would be much favorable for him, hence his desire to trade queens voluntarily at an early stage. Let’s see the game:

 

Liang, Awonder (2428) – Han, Curran (2221)
2015 US Junior Closed Championship, July 7th, 2015.

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. f3 O-O 6. Nge2 e5 7. Bg5 Nbd7 8. Qd2 c6 9. Rd1 Qa5 10. d5! transforming the position favorably

10…cxd5   it was probably better to aim for a King’s Indian type II structure with 10… c5 though White has some pleasing options like 11. Nb5!? attacking the d6-pawn, and after 11…Qb6 12. Nec3 {the only move is 12…Nb8 13. Bd3+= where White enjoys some lead in development

11. Nxd5 Qxd2+ 12. Kxd2 Nxd5 13. cxd5
queens are off the board, and the resulting ending is probably much worse than Black expected it would be. Although most engines may indicate the current position is equal, White enjoys a lasting advantage, at least practically speaking. He has more space in the center, and this is what really matters. The game will turn to White’s favor little by little
13…f6 14. Be3 f5 15. Nc3
protecting e4 and threatening 16.Nb5, attacking Black’s vulnerable points a7, c7 and d6
15…a6 16. g4!

claiming space in the kingside makes perfect sense for White, he has a solid center and now can expand on both sides of the board
16…fxg4
If 16… f4 17. Bf2 Bf6 18. h4 Bd8! rerouting the bishop to a more convenient diagonal, but after 19. Rc1+= White maintains a risk free advantage.
In case of 16… Nf6 17. h3! is a simple method for White to keep the advantage without complications. The alternative 17. gxf5?! gxf5 18. Rg1 Kh8 could give Black some counterplay
17. fxg4 Bf6?! this is a suboptimal piece arrangement
17… Nf6 18. h3 Bd7 19.Bd3 Rf7 20. b3 Bf8 21. Rc1 Be7 22. Na4 $5 Bxa4 23. bxa4 Bd8 24. Rhf1+=
18.Be2   the alternative 18. g5!? Bd8 19. h4 is similar to the game 18…b5 gaining some space in the queenside, and allowing the bishop on c8 to move, but also turning the b-pawn into a permanent weakness.
The option 18… g5, hoping to claim space and make possible the maneouvre …Nf8-g6-f4, is met
strongly by 19. h4! h6 20. hxg5 20… Bxg5 21. Bxg5 hxg5 22. Rh5+=
19. Rdf1 Bb7 20. g5! a strong move, gaining space and clearing the g4-square for a powerful bishop. 20…Bd8 21. Bg4 Rxf1 22. Rxf1 Nf8 23.b4

White’s  last move is both natural and strong, now the b5-pawn is fixed and will soon become a target
23…Bc8 24. Bd1 Bh3 25. Rg1 Rb8 26. Be2 Bd7 27. Rc1 a5?!
again, Black’s ‘active’ moves in the queenside play against him, now the b5-pawn has lost support. It was better to wait passively with 27… Be8 though after 28. Rb1 Nd7 29. a4 bxa4 30. Nxa4 += White stays in control.
28. a3 Kf7 29. Rb1! indirectly pressing against the b5-pawn. Now White has a big advantage.
29…a4 this move was necessary sooner or later. Now the b5-pawn, and consequently the a4-pawn are seriously vulnerable.

In case of 29… axb4?! 30. axb4 only White will benefit from using the a-file. The waiting move 29… Kg8 can be met by 30. Kd1! and now the b5-pawn is under attack.
30. Nd1 White can now shuffle his pieces around, to find the optimal locations for a decisive strike 31…Be8 31. Rc1 Ke7 32. h4 Nd7 33. Nc3 Nf8 34. Rf1 Rb7 35. Nd1 Nd7 36. Nf2 Bb6?!
Trading the dark-squared bishop only gives White more entry points, like c7 and f6. A better option was 36… Kf7 37. Ng4+ Kg7 38. Rc1 Rb8 39. Rc6 Be7 eventually Black is losing material, for example after 40. Ra6 Rb7 41. Ra8 Rb8 42. Ra5 {and now the only way to defend the pawn is} Nb6 43. Ra7 Nd7 and now White has the tactical resource 44. Nf6! Bxf6 45. gxf6+ Kxf6 46. Bg4
winning a knight, since Nf8? 47. Bg5#
37. Bxb6 Rxb6 38. Ng4 Rb7 39. Rc1 Kd8 40. Rc6

40…Ke7 The alternative was trading rooks 40… Rb6 41. Rxb6 Nxb6 but after 42. Nf6! a pawn is lost Ke7 43. Nxh7 Na8 44. Nf6 Nc7 and the endgame is hopeless, for example 45. Ke3 Bf7 46. Kf2 Kf8 47. Kg3 Kg7 48.h5 gxh5 49. Kh4 Bg6 50. Bxh5+-
41. Ra6 Nb6
In case of 41… Rb8 42. Ra5 Nb6 43. Nf6 h5 44. Ra7+ Kf8 45. Rh7! and Black is desperate, for example 45…Rc8 46. Rb7 Nc4+ 47. Bxc4 bxc4 48. Kc3+-
42. Nf6 Nc8?
this mistake makes things easier, although Black’s position was desperate anyway. More stubborn was 42… Bd7 though after 43. Nxd7 Nxd7 44. Ra5 and White winning two pawns after Bxb5-Bxa4
43. Ra8! and now White will win a piece by force 43…Bd7 44. Nxd7 1-0
Black resigned in view of 44…Kxd7 45.Bg4 +-

 

Overall, it was a great positional win by Liang Awonder, I am sure he knew the structure granted him a substantial strategic advantage in the ending, and this is why he was eager to trade queens early in the game. His better understanding of the structure allowed him to obtain a relatively easy, and very instructive victory.

 

Feel free to leave comments, suggestions or questions. If you liked this blog, become a follower, I try to publish at least two instructive articles per month.
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