Review: King’s Indian: A Modern Approach, by Viktor Bologan

By Davide Nastasio

I got this DVD because Bologan just published an impressive book on the King’s Indian.




Unfortunately, at the speed I’m reading these chess books, I’ll only be able to read 29 of them before departing this muddy sphere traveling across the galaxy! Since I wanted to play the King’s Indian (from now on abbreviated as KID), I went on to the next more suitable solution for my way of learning, which is videos and a selected database of games.  What totally convinced me of the worthiness of investing my time studying the KID was the following game:



Carlsen vs. Radjabov



But there is another reason I wanted to learn the KID. A very similar opening is the Pirc/Modern which can give rise to similar pawn structures and ideas.  I thought that with 2 DVDs by Bologan, I could cover the entire major openings and focus more on studying the middlegame and the endgame, which often are neglected by amateurs.




But of course we cannot limit ourselves to mere pragmatic tournament reasons, for example, the greatest champion of all time Bobby Fischer was using the KID.   To learn about the KID would make our understanding of his great games easier. And then of course there are a lot of champions like Kasparov, Bronstein, and Tal who also used the KID.  In fact, Bologan packs the DVD with a database of “model games,” a total of 198 games to study.  While few of them are played by Kasparov, this one stood out immediately!



And who could resist sneaking in a magical Fischer game with the KID when he was beating the best players on the planet with tennis scores?



Of course there are many more exciting games, but clearly the KID can be a dangerous opening.  It can help us to win more games with Black!  But why did I show these two games? Because in the DVD, Bologan says that he studied all the games of Fischer and Kasparov on the KID, which means we need to do the same if we want to reach mastery with this opening. Obviously Bologan did it under a coach, but thanks to him and this DVD we can also learn the intricacies of the KID.

Another important point Bologan raises in the introductory video is about the many different schools of thought on how to play the KID. This remark is important, because two books were recently published on the KID, one by Bologan and the other by Smirin, and they couldn’t be more different in the way they handle the opening.  Bologan also mentions Boleslavsky’s school. Boleslavsky was a very strong player in the 1950s who helped Spassky to reach world champion level.



Isaac Boleslavsky playing against Mikhail Botvinnik


But apart from those classical players of the past, who is playing it now? Bologan mentions Hikaru Nakamura, who just recently had success with this opening.



GM Hikaru Nakamura


Here an example of how Nakamura destroys one of the top world players in a blitz game using the KID!



Bologan mentions that the KID has changed a lot thanks to the deep analysis made in world correspondence championships. In fact, the ICCF Centaur method (in modern correspondence games players are allowed to use engines) allows us to deepen the search for new ideas as never before in chess history.

Generally in a review I don’t put all the lines treated in the DVD, because it would make it boring. But in the case of the KID, both sides, Black and White, should always be on the lookout. Especially with an opening like the KID. White must also be prepared and updated, hence the need also for White players to know what Bologan teaches!

We have the King’s Indian after the moves: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6




The second video shows the plans with Bg5 and Bf4: after the moves 1.d4,Nf6; 2.c4,g6; 3.Nc3,Bg7; White can continue with 4.Bg5;




Bologan clearly explains what Black should do once White plays Bg5, and what are the weak points Black can exploit, and how.
Here is an example of one of Bologan’s explanations, of course in the video it is more clear:




Bologan also shows some of the typical pawn sacrifices to give Black a better position.

White can also play 4.Nf3 0-0 5.Bf4 (or Bg5);



or 4.e4 d6 5.Bg5




I believe it is important to practice in order to achieve the maximum from Bologan’s teaching. Bologan also advises us to play some blitz games using the opening.  It doesn’t matter if one wins or loses, because the experience will teach him more on where to place the pieces, or how to avoid common mistakes.

Video n.3 is dedicated to the plans with Nge2: after the moves: 1.d4,Nf6; 2.c4,g6; 3.Nc3,Bg7; 4.e4,d6; 5.Bd3 0-0 6.Nge2; (or immediately 5.Nge2)




On the fourth and fifth video Bologan discusses a tricky move, 5.h3, which we have after the moves: 1.d4,Nf6; 2.c4,g6; 3.Nc3,Bg7; 4.e4,d6; 5.h3




The line analyzed on the sixth video is called the Averbakh system after the moves: 1.d4,Nf6; 2.c4,g6; 3-Nc3,Bg7; 4.e4,d6; we have 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5




For those curious of how many games were played by Averbakh with this particular system, I located 16, thanks to Chessbase Megabase 2017.  Here is one of the nicest ones:



GM Yuri Averbakh



On video n.7 Bologan treats one of the most scary options by White:  the four pawn attack!
1.d4,Nf6; 2.c4,g6; 3.Nc3,Bg7; 4.e4,d6; 5.f4,




Obviously you’ll discover what Bologan believes is the best weapon to neutralize such attack only through watching the video!

From video 8 to video 11, Bologan analyzes what Black should do after 1.d4,Nf6; 2.c4,g6; 3.Nc3,Bg7; 4.e4,d6; 5.f3; this is the Saemisch variation of the KID.




Bologan admits this is a very solid line, and he was playing it as White too!  However for these videos he has prepared some solid long term strategic ideas which work well against this setup.

The videos from 12 to 17 are dedicated to the fianchetto system, after the moves: 1.d4,Nf6; 2.c4,g6; 3.Nc3,Bg7; 4.g3,0-0; 5.Bg2,d6; 6.0-0,Nc6 7.Nc3,a6;




About the fianchetto, Bologan admits White can enjoy a little space advantage, and he found himself in comfortable positions as White. In fact, another Chessbase author, GM Nick Pert, made a DVD about the fianchetto in which he claimed to have neutralized the kingside attack KID’s players habitually play against White.




Bologan is quite aware of the problem, and explains clearly how to play against the fianchetto.

In video 18 Bologan deals with the Classical System – Exchange Variation 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bg5 Re8




This is a very important line for Bologan, because often some Black players are afraid of it, and we all know chess is a psychological game. However, the important novelty is related to the new recommendation, in previous books/DVDs Bologan said he recommended to play 9…Rf8; now he believes 9…Re8 is better.

From video 19 to 26 the Classical system – Bayonet attack/variation are treated in detail.   After the moves: 1.d4,Nf6; 2.c4,g6; 3.Nc3,Bg7; 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.d5 a5




The DVD ends with 10 video clips of exercises where Bologan ask questions and gives feedback to let us see how much of the material we were able to absorb. Like all DVDs, it comes with 2 databases: one of theoretical framework based on 26 games/lines, and one of model games based on 198 games.

Before concluding this review, I’d like to point out for those serious in mastering and playing the KID at tournament level, that Chessbase has already published other DVDs on the KID.
For example, Kasimdzhanov, now Caruana’s trainer, made this DVD for Chessbase:




And of course one should never miss Andrew Martin’s DVDs, since he shows a lot of games outlining quickly the main points one MUST remember or know:




There are others, but the point is not to advertise all Chessbase products, just to make the reader aware of the tools Chessbase has created for us to excel at this opening.

In conclusion: I found the DVD by Bologan quite instructive for pointing out the main ideas behind Black’s moves, and how to play against White’s moves. I think the DVD is better than Bologan’s latest book on the KID, because it is more immediate. I can better understand from Bologan’s words what one needs to do in some positions, and for me, it is easier to remember his words. On the other hand, I’m sure some people prefer to read books, so maybe that media is perfect for them. I have both, so I can also use the book as a reference. One last idea: while now thanks to Bologan I can play the KID like a master-level player,  my middlegame and endgame are still not at that level. It would be interesting to see Bologan teaching on these two important topics in some Chessbase DVDs.



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