Indian Defence

Indian Defence

Indian defences are chess openings characterised by the moves:

1. d4 Nf6

Transpositions are important and many of the positions can be reached by several move orders. They are all to varying degrees hypermodern defences, where Black invites White to establish an imposing presence in the centre with the plan of drawing it out, undermining it, and destroying it. Although Indian defences were championed in the 1920s by players in the hypermodern school, they were not fully accepted until Russian players showed in the late 1940s that these systems are sound for Black. Since then, Indian defences have been the most popular Black replies to 1.d4 because they offer an unbalanced game with chances for both sides.

The Indian defences are considered more ambitious and double-edged than the symmetrical reply 1...d5. In the Queen's Gambit Declined, Black accepts a cramped, passive position with the plan of gradually equalising and obtaining counterplay. In contrast, breaking symmetry on move one leads to rapid combat in the centre, where Black can obtain counterplay without necessarily equalising first.

The usual White second move is 2.c4, grabbing a larger share of the centre and allowing the move Nc3, to prepare for moving the e-pawn to e4 without blocking the c-pawn. Black's most popular replies are

  • 2...e6, freeing the king's bishop and leading into the Nimzo-Indian Defence, Queen's Indian Defence, Bogo-Indian Defence, Modern Benoni, or regular lines of the Queen's Gambit Declined,
  • 2...g6, preparing a fianchetto of the king's bishop and entering the King's Indian Defence or Grünfeld Defence, and
  • 2...c5, the Modern Benoni, with an immediate counter-punch in the centre,

but other moves are played as detailed below.

Instead of 2.c4, White often plays 2.Nf3. Then Black may play 2...d5 for Queen's Pawn Game (D02, see 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5). This can lead to Slav Defence (D15), Queen's Gambit Declined (D37), Queen's Pawn Game (D05), or Queen's Pawn Game (D04). Or black may play 2...e6 for Queen's Pawn Game (A46, see 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6). This can lead to Queen's Gambit Declined (D37), Queen's Indian (E12), or Queen's Pawn Game (A46). Or black may play 2...g6 for King's Indian Defence (A48, see 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6). This can lead to King's Indian Defence (E60), King's Indian, Orthodox (E94), or King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4 (A49). Or black may play 2...c5 for Queen's Pawn Game (A46, see 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5). This can lead to Queen's Pawn Game (E10), English, Symmetrical, Benoni Formation (A31), Queen's Pawn Game (A46), or Old Benoni (A43).

White can also play 2.Bg5, the Trompowsky Attack. Black can respond 2...Ne4 (see 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4), or 2...e6 (see 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 e6), among other moves. A third alternative for White is the rarer 2.Nc3. Then black may play 2...d5 for Richter-Veresov Attack (D01, see 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5). Black may also play 2...g6 (see 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6).


Read more about Indian Defence:  Variations, Historical Background

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