Chess Openings – Queen’s Indian Defence

Chess Openings – Queen’s Indian Defence


Welcome to ChessOpenings.com. Today we’re
going to take a look at a solid defense to the Queen’s pawn opening known
as the Queen’s Indian defense. In this opening, Black’s key idea is to restrain
White in the center, and to develop his pieces quickly and only later
launch a counter attack against White center. Let’s take a look. The Queen’s Indian is a response to the Queen’s
pawn opening so, Queen’s Indian games tend to start with the move pawn
to d4. And now, to aim for a Queen’s Indian, Black plays Knight to f6,
and after White’s most common play c4, Black plays the move pawn to e6.
This up which Black is using is extremely solid here. The goal is to answer
White’s play Knight to c3 with this pen Bishop to d4 and this would be called
the Nimzo-Indian. By penning the Knight on c3, Black gains a
grip on this e4 square which is a critical square since it makes it difficult
for White to complete his expansion in the center with pawn to e4. At
the same time, Black remains flexible with his central pawn so he can always
choose between d5 or c5 in these positions depending on which setup White
chooses. The Nimzo-Indian has such a great reputation
that many players prefer to avoid it with the move Knight to f3, which
is actually the slight favorite for White in this position. And now, Black
can play the Queen’s Indian with pawn to b6 and this is the starting position
of the Queen’s Indian. The Nimzo-Indian and Queen’s Indian are sister
openings that were made popular by ideas of Aron Nimzowitsch. One
of the famous chess thinkers of the 20th-Century. Nimzowitsch proposed that
it’s possible to play without occupying the center immediately with pawns,
but instead to attack it with pieces from a distance and here, Black’s going
to be using his pieces in order to restrain White’s options. Restraint was also another concept which Nimzowitsch
was very fond of. He thought that positional play largely boiled
down to taking away options from the opponent. And one of Black’s key
ideas in the Queen’s Indian is to make it more difficult for White to advance
his center and only later to attack it. In the Queen’s Indian, Black is going to aim
his light square Bishop and his Knight at this point on e4 and this is
in order both to restrain the moves onto e4 and also there’s this cramping
move d4 to d5 which Black is also looking out to prevent. If White plays
Knight to c3 at any moment, Black will still often use this pen Bishop
before in order to further strengthen his grip over the light squares. Now, in this position, White’s most popular
move is pawn to g3 and this known as the Classical Variation in which
White aims to simply complete his development on the King’s side in a logical
fashion and develop a counter weight across the long diagonal. Essentially,
White contents himself for the time being with this more modest pawn
duo on d4 and c4 and just focuses for now on completing development. Now traditionally, Black simply plays Bishop
to b7 and after these standards move Bishop g2, Bishop g7, castles,
castles, and Knights e3, we reach an interesting key position and I really
want to devote some time to getting acquainted with some of the rich strategic
content of this position. Now if you were asked what would be the most
logical move in this position, you could very easily make the mistake of
suggesting the move pawn to d5. This is not a very good move for a couple
of reasons. First of all it’s against the spirit of the opening which says
that Black should be waiting until the most opportune moment to make this
kind of occupation moves in the center, these moves which occupy the center
with a pawn. He needs to restrain himself from making moves like these
until the timing is just right. This is the first thing but secondly in the
Queen’s Indian, there’s a very common concept which arises which is that
after the taking, capture, or exchange of pawns on d5, Black finds himself
with two unique problems here in the Queen’s Indian which is that the Bishop
on b7 is now hemmed in and secondly, the C pawn is on an open file and
becomes vulnerable to attack very easily. For example, White often continues Bishop
f4 in this position so that’s a logical square for the Bishop and it already
starts to put an eye on this vulnerable pawn on c7. Sooner or later, Black
will want to play c5 in order to free his position and move his pawn to
a less vulnerable location. Let’s imagine Black does this now as he sometimes
has. This does not really solve his problems since
after the moves D takes c5 now or later which leaves Black in what’s
called a “hanging pawns” formation. The D and C pawns are both extremely
vulnerable to direct attack. If the pawns were able to just simply
roll down the board they could be an asset so the “hanging pawns” formation
isn’t always bad, but, if White can generate quickly an attack on
these pawns it’s very possible that Black could end up losing material. It turns out that in this position, for example,
we can show some methods which White could use to gain some big advantage
against these pawns. Knights to e5, a great move here, this would
unveil a third attacker on the d5 pawn and it simultaneously pins the pawn
so the pawn cannot advance so this is a great move here this Knight to e5. Of course at the moment White only has three
attackers and Black has three defenders so White still needs more firepower.
Black say, continues with this move Knight e6, and now White has a wonderful
maneuver here Knight to c4 taking advantage of this bin in trying
to bring this Knight to some square where it would be useful in attacking
this pawn perhaps Knight e3, for example, putting up the final pressure
on this pawn. If its White to move in this position and he was able to play
Knight e3, we would already have serious issue for Black in defending
this pawn, perhaps it’s not even possible. So, Black instead has often played this move
for example, Queen to d7. And now White found this move Knight to a5, still
finding a way to include the Knight into the attack just to show with this
move Queen d7 the idea is that if Knight e3, well I’m always ready to
bring one of the rooks to d8 and bring this next defender to this square
and at the same time, in fact even more importantly, I’m just ready to play
d4. Look at that, the Bishop is defended. So in fact, this move Knight a5, it increases
the pressure on b7, prevents the pawn from moving, and also threatens to
capture the Bishop and gain the pawn. Of course, White has a big initiative
here. Of course you don’t always get such a beautiful attack like this
against an any pawn formations but it’s surprising how frequently the pawns
can come under attack in positions just like these. Rolling back to the position after Knight
to c3 we just showed with this little digression that this move pawn to d5
is not a very good idea for Black, in fact, it typically is not a good
idea in the Queen’s Indian for a couple of the reasons we just showed. So how
does Black continue his development here and solidify his grip over
the light squares. It turns out he has the outstanding move Knight e4. With this move he just directly occupies the
e4 square making it impossible for White to play e4 and most importantly,
he has a second idea in mind which is to use the F pawn to strengthen his
hold over the e4 square. In this way he will not be blocking the diagonal
of his Bishop. There are a lot of ways this position can
go but they are all super solid for Black. For example, since White will want
to avoid double pawns on c3, the most direct is Knight takes e4, Bishop
takes e4. And now in order to gain the chance for e2 to e4, White typically
plays Knight e1, just trying to get rid of these Bishops. After the trade, Bishop takes g2, Knight takes
g2, and Black finally says, “Well, I’m willing to play D-5 now, why not?
I don’t have this Bishop sitting on b7.” For Black we can say that
his strategy has mostly been successful. The exchange of two pairs of pieces
and the ability to now gain a reasonable share of the center makes this
position just about equal. So, after this move Knight to e4, White really
needs to out on his thinking cap to figure out how he can set Black some
new problems here. One way which has been found to do this is this move
Queen to c2 and this sets a little trap for Black which is that f5 looks
like the natural response here which is exactly what we said is the goal
and we are solidifying control of this square. However, the properties of the Queen and the
Bishop allow that White is now able to simply play this excellent move Knight
e5. This is because if Black tried pawn to d6 in this position, he
would quickly find himself in trouble after the move Knight take e4 and
pawn takes Knight, and now simply, Bishop takes pawn. Because of the
pressure down this diagonal, Black will never actually have time to capture
the Knight. The net affect of all this is that after this
move Knight to e5, White simply has few attackers on this point on
e4 and it’s going to be very difficult for Black to arrange an appropriate
defense of the Knight. He needs to avoid this direct move pawn to f5
and instead he captures on c3, Queen takes c3, and now plays pawn to f5. But, White still has in mind one last little
factor which he’s going to try to use in order to gain an advantage in this
position. In addition to still playing for the move pawn to e4, he’s also
going to count on the fact that eventually the e6 might turn out to be weak
if Black plays d6 eventually as he most likely will. So for example, the main line runs pawn to
b3, Bishop f6, Bishop b2, pawn d6, very natural. What Black would like to
do in such a position is play Knight d7 and then either e5 or c5. However,
as we pointed out there is a weakness left behind on e6 so we have this
move rook A d1, Queen e7, and now White just picks up with this aim of Knight
e1 playing for e2 to e4 at some point trading off this Bishop. And now
after Bishop takes g2, Knight takes g2, Knight d7, and Queen c2 preparing
the move e2 to e4, White is looking forward to some kind of small initiative
based on the weakness of the e6 pawn. So you can see that even this far into the
game there is still a battle raging in which White is doggedly trying to
pursue this aim of achieving e2 to e4 while Black tries to avoid it or at
least trade off a couple pairs of pieces and pawns in order to neutralize the
affects of this move. We see that this fight for e4 is the major theme
which is holding the entire Queen’s Indian together. I hope this video has given you insight into
some of the key concepts of the Queen’s Indian and insight into some of
the key variations. I highly recommend this opening for players of both
colors as the strategic content of this opening is very rich and it’s very
solid for both sides. Until next time.

79 thoughts on “Chess Openings – Queen’s Indian Defence

  1. @yousmellmyunderware Thank you! The Italian Game will definitely be coming. The QGD we will be a little ways out… -Dereque

  2. @moogwai37 It will probably be some time until I cover some ideas in the Sicilan with Black. There are so many variations in the Sicilian that I'm still trying to decide how best to tackle it and demonstrate the key ideas. With the videos on c3 Sicilian and Grand Prix Attack I hoped to at least eliminate some of the minor variations before considering how to tackle the alrger ones. We'll have to see what we can do about this complicated yet exciting opening… -Dereque

  3. Good quesiton. Since this does nothing to prevent e2-e4, play e2-e4! In such cases your main concern would be the feasibility of his attacking that your center rapidly and forcing a concession. But here Black is just too slow: 4.e4 Bb7 5.Bd3 Bb4 and now 6.f3 or 6.Qc2 both lead to an advantage. -Dereque

  4. really? that's what i have! cool! I know this question is far from chess, but do you focus manually, or use that clunky auto-focus, where it makes the green box when it's in focus?

  5. It's Seattle in my home. I'm doing these videos for fun and because I have some ideas about how chess study might be improved based on my own struggle to improve at this game! -Dereque

  6. That's really cool Dereque, I always wanted to live in Seattle because I heard that its always raining up there. I love the rain, not to mention I don't live anywhere close to Washington but I have been a Seahawks fan since I was a kid. Anyway, take it easy Dereque and keep up the good work.

  7. Thank you for your efforts to promote the game. I have watched your videos again and again to better my understanding of some of my favorite openings. May I ask you about pawn skeletons in some dynamic openings, specifically pawn levers? This would help greatly, Regardless, thank you again for the great work. Peace to you and yours.

  8. I'm not exactly sure what you are referring to by the question? Thank you for the kind remarks, I'm glad you're enjoying the videos!

  9. at 4:00 you said that d5 is a mistake, but capturing back with pawn is a mistake. After i saw your video i look at saemisch vs nimzowitch game (some call it immortal zugzwang) and nimzowitch played d5 at that position. i also looked at database and nimzowitch loved to play that move. But if you take with knight the game become "drawish". XD Love your videos!!!

  10. Could black still use the same setup (Ne4 then f5) if white decides to play the petrosian system (4. a3 to prevent Bb4) ? Thank you

  11. Nope, a …Ne4, …f5 setup doesn't occur often in the Petrosian. Since the Petrosian Variation involves an early threat to dominate the center (after 4.a3 Bb7 5.Nc3, White threatens 6.d5! followed by e2-e4 – this in fact occurs after 5…Be7!? 6.d5), Black most often finds it necessary to involve his d-pawn in the defense with 5…d5 which seriously dampens the chances that Black will want to go for anything involving …Ne4 and …f5.

  12. Dereque you are my heroe ;
    Could you please makes videos on Opeings Tactics !
    Pleassssssssssseeeeeeeee !!

  13. Hi I have a question. After white chose to play Nf3 instead of Nc3 going to the queens indian defence as you said following up with b6 by black, can the game then still transpose to nimzo-indian if white plays Nc3 and black plays then Bb4 anyway? Or is it then still called queens indian defence?

  14. Sometimes that is actually called the "Hybrid" variation. It is an important position for the theory of both openings. After 4…Bb4 the reached position could have arisen from the Nimzo-Indian but White may argue that he has sidestepped an important main line: 4…c5 in response to 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 (…c5). Black can argue that the given position (with …b6) is still acceptable or can try 4…Bb7 in the Queen's Indian move order rather than …Bb4. Certainly tricky!

  15. I don't understand why moving the bishop to G5 to threaten the knight and pinning it is a good move. I just imagine my opponents simply moving their pawn and if I move the bishop to H4 they would just move their pawn again.

    I would also really like to know because I do that when someone threatens my knight with their bishop that way, I move my pawn up to kick the bishop back and will move the other pawn if he simply moves back one space. This must be a bad move on my part?

  16. It is definitely a possibility in many positions but often it has the downside of making it more difficult to castle on that sector of the board without being exposed. Also since the f-pawn is not marching in concert, the pawns themselves could be vulnerable to f2-f4 or h2-h4 breaks breaking up the h6-g5 formation and followed by pressure against the h6 pawn.

  17. Hi Mr. Kelley,

    Awesome video. I have a question: what implication would have for white if he starts 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 instead of c4?

    Thanks.

  18. Hey, Dereque. You say early on that white prefers to avoid the nimzo-indian variation thus leading into the queen's indian, but having looked over your nimzo video I don't really see that much of a big threat by shifting to nimzo–if anything, the nimzo variation seems to be more of a headache for black to play than the queen's indian. What exactly makes the nimzo so bad for white to face, especially when some of your comments in the nimzo vid seem to have theory favoring white?

  19. hey dereque after 4.g3 I have heard that 4…..Bb7 is a drawing weapon.To play for a win black has to play 4….Ba6.please make a video on that as well.thanks

  20. I'm pretty new to this opening but I played the king's Indian attack and defence several times. however somehow I got the feeling to weaken black's king position by playing f5 which opens the diagonal for some nasty checks while whites king position seems still very safe to me. at some points black has to play extreme precisely to prevent getting himself into serious trouble. so to sum it all up I'm not really sure yet if I want to use this opening system in future.

  21. Dereque, the Queen's Indian is VERY similar to the Nimzo-Larsen attack, but with colors reversed (and down a tempo).

  22. As an intermediate player, I like to watch your videos very, informative and short. Can I ask how many chess sets a pro like you has and which one is used in this video?

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