Yates’ King’s Indian Defence

December 1, 2016 Matthew Sadler 2 comments

I would like to finish this celebration of Yates’ play by taking a look at his handling of the King’s Indian Defence. In the article on Yates and Alekhine, we have already seen the fantastic win that Yates scored against Alekhine with this opening. That game featured his own approach in the King’s Indian of playing his knight to c6 immediately, and following up quickly with …Nd7 and …e5. I would like to entertain you with 2 more of his games in this opening. In both cases, it’s amazing to think that these games were played in the late 1920’s / early 1930’s!


Vidmar,Milan Sr – Yates,Frederick

British Empire Club Masters 1927


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 0–0 5.Be3 d6 6.f3 Nc6 7.Bd3 Nd7 8.Nge2 e5 9.d5 Ne7 10.Qd2 f5 11.g3 Nf6 12.0–0–0 a6 13.h3 Bd7 14.Rdf1 b5



15.c5 b4 16.Nd1 Bb5 17.Kb1 Qb8 18.Nf2 a5 19.c6 a4 20.Bg5 Qb6 21.g4 f4 22.Bxf6 Bxf6 23.Bxb5 Qxb5 24.h4 Rfb8 25.g5 Bg7 26.Ng4 Nc8 27.Nc1 Nb6 28.Rf2 Nc4 29.Qd3 Ra5 30.Rhh2 Qa6 31.Ka1 Rc5



32.Rc2 b3 33.Rc3 a3 34.Nxb3 axb2+ 35.Rxb2 Qb5 36.Rb1 Na3 37.Qxb5 Rcxb5 38.Rd1 Rb4 39.Nf2 Ra4 40.Nd3 Nb5 41.Rcc1 Rba8 42.Rd2 Ra3 43.Rb2 Nd4 44.Nxd4 exd4 45.Rd1 h6 46.Kb1 hxg5 47.hxg5 R8a7 48.Rdd2 Kf7 49.Rb7 Be5 50.Rh2 Kg8 51.Nxe5 dxe5 52.Rb8+ Kg7 53.Rbh8



Ray Keene who annotated games for a tournament book of the 1927 British Empire Club Masters tournament produced by the BCM in 1971 commented: “a surprisingly modern game twenty years before the King’s Indian Defence really came into fashion. The role played by British masters in the development of this defence has usually been overlooked”. Just as a little aside, my Dad pointed out to me also that when annotating this game of Gawain Jones’ for the Times of 20th September…


Henriquez Villagra,Cristobal  – Jones,Gawain C

Baku Olympiad 2016


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.g3 0–0 5.Bg2 d6 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.0–0 e5 8.d5 Nb8



9.e4 a5 10.h3 Na6 11.Be3 Qe7 12.Ne1 Nd7 13.Nd3 Ndc5 14.Nxc5 Nxc5 15.Qd2 f5 16.exf5 gxf5 17.Rae1 Bd7 18.Kh2 Rae8 19.f4 e4 20.Rg1 a4 21.Bf1 Qf6 22.Rc1 Re7 23.Be2 Rfe8 24.Nd1 Rb8 25.Rg2 Kh8 26.Rc3 Ra8 27.Ra3 Ree8 28.g4 fxg4 29.hxg4 Nd3 30.Kg1 c5 31.Bxd3 exd3 32.Qxd3 Kg8 33.Bd2 Re7 34.Qc2 Qh4 35.Rag3 Rae8 36.Be3 Re4 37.Qd3 Bd4 38.Bxd4 Rxd4 39.Qf1 Rde4 40.Qd3 Re1+ 41.Kf2 Bxg4 42.Nc3 Kh8 43.Qd2 Bh5




…Ray noted that “this retreating manoeuvre [6…Nc6 and 8…Nb8 used by Gawain in the game above] reculer pour mieux sauter, as one might say, was inspired by the games of the English masters of the 1920’s, for example the famous victory by Frederick Yates against Alexander Alekhine from Carlsbad 1923”.


Yates’ game against Euwe from Hastings 1931 was even better. I started annotating the game in detail, but in the end I just stopped and decided to enjoy the ride!


Euwe,Max – Yates,Frederick

Hastings 1931


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0–0 6.Be3 Nc6



Yates’ patent.


7.Nge2 e5 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0–0–0 Nb6



A very nice concept. The c4 pawn is often a target in the Samisch for a knight, though usually via …Nc6-a5.


10.b3 a5 11.dxe5 a4



Played like a true King’s Indian player!


12.Bxb6 axb3 13.Be3 bxa2 14.Nxa2



When I saw this position, I thought straightway of the following classic game I saw in an old Batsford book of Efim Geller’s on the King’s Indian Defence. It features a similar sacrifice and also similarly marching queenside pawns!


Kotov,Alexander – Geller,Efim P

URS-ch 1949


1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.g3 0–0 5.Bg2 d6 6.Nf3 Nbd7 7.0–0 e5 8.e4 exd4 9.Nxd4 Nc5 10.f3 Nfd7 11.Be3 c6 12.Qd2 a5 13.Rad1 Ne5 14.b3 a4 15.Nde2



15…axb3 16.Bxc5 Nxc4 17.Qc1 bxa2 18.Nxa2



18…Qa5 19.Qxc4 Be6 20.Qc1 dxc5 21.Nac3 b5 22.Nb1 b4 23.Nf4 Bb3 24.Rd6 c4 25.Rxc6 c3



26.Nd5 Bxd5 27.exd5 Qxd5 28.f4 Qd4+ 29.Kh1 Ra2 30.Bf3 Rb2 31.f5 Be5 32.Qe1 Rd8 33.Be4 Kg7 34.f6+ Kg8 35.Ra6 h5 36.Ra5 h4 37.Bxg6 Rxh2+ 38.Kxh2 Bxg3+ 39.Qxg3 hxg3+ 40.Kh3 fxg6




Anyway, back to the Yates game!





14…Nxe5 15.Nec3 Be6 was more natural


15.Nec3 Be6 16.f4 Na5



Slightly dodgy as it stops the Black heavy pieces from massing on the a-file: the knight on a5 is rather in the way.


17.Qc2 Bg7 18.Nd5 c6 19.Bb6


A very unpleasant idea. All of a sudden, the drawback to …Na5 is seen: the knight blocks up Black’s counterplay on the a-file and White’s knight and bishop do the same for the rest of Black’s queenside.


19…Qb8 20.Nc7 d5 21.e5


21.f5 is so tempting when Black’s pieces have lost all their scope


21…Bf5 22.Bd3


Another suboptimal move giving the Black knight on a5 a new and dangerous lease of life!


22…Bxd3 23.Rxd3 Nxc4 24.Nxa8 Qxa8



A dream position for Black now even if the computer still thinks White is clearly better! His king is safe, White’s pieces are somewhat uncoordinated and he has a simple plan of pushing his queenside pawns. Let White worry about the rest!


25.Bd4 Rc8 26.Re1 c5 27.Ba1



A really ropey place for the bishop unless White is aiming to play f5 very quickly. 27.Bf2 b5 28.Nc3 looks more sensible.


27…b5 28.Re2 b4



This position shows the difficulty of playing positions where the opponent’s king is safe, even when the material situation is strongly in your favour. This is true enough in analysis and even truer in a practical game with limited / little time. White is a rook up for 2 pawns, but is struggling to find a clear plan. Black on the other hand just needs to work out how to get his knight out of the way in order to push his c- and d- pawns through.


28…d4 is also very natural shutting in White’s minor pieces behind the wall formed by the queenside pawns and knight on c4




A critical moment. This is definitely NOT the best way to deal with Black’s manifold threats:


a) 29.f5


The most obvious attempt to start chipping away at Black’s king’s position and thus create some targets for counterplay


a1) 29…Bh6+ 30.Kd1 (30.Kb1 Na3+ 31.Rxa3 bxa3 is very nasty for White 32.Bc3 d4) Na3 31.Qb2


31.Rxa3 Qxa3 32.e6 Rf8 Komodo…! 0.00…. Will need to get my head around that one! (32…b3 33.exf7+ Kf8 34.Qc3 Komodo’s huge improvement on my analysis (34.Qd3 b2 35.Re8+ Kxf7 36.Qxd5+ Kxe8 37.Qe6+ Kd8 38.Qd6+ Ke8 was my draw) 34…d4 35.Qh3




31…d4 32.e6; 31…Nc4 32.Qb3 This is much better than in the game: the inclusion of …Bh6+ and Kd1 ruin masses of the tactics!


32.e6 c3 33.Nxc3 Nc4


I wasn’t 100% sure about this though I thought it would be good for White. Komodo has no fears.


34.exf7+ Kxf7 35.fxg6+ hxg6 36.Qb1


a2) 29…Na3 30.Qd2 c4



30…d4 31.f6 Bf8 32.e6 feels as if White has made some progress


31.Rxd5 c3 32.Qd3 Bh6+



32…Nc4 33.fxg6 leads to the same as above


33.Kd1 Nc4 34.fxg6 hxg6 35.e6 c2+ 36.Rxc2 Ne3+ 37.Qxe3 Bxe3 38.Rxc8+ Qxc8 39.Bf6 Bb6 40.e7 Kh7


is around equal according to Komodo


b) 29.e6


A drastic way to get things started – the material investment doesn’t justify the resulting attack


29…Bxa1 30.exf7+ Kxf7 31.Rh3


31.f5 Bb2+ 32.Kd1 (32.Kb1 Qxa2+ 33.Kxa2 Ra8+) 32…Qxa2 33.fxg6+ Kg8 34.gxh7+ Kh8




31…Bb2+ 32.Kd1 Qxa2 33.Rxh7+ Kf8 34.Rh8+ Kg7 35.Re7+ Kxh8 36.Qxg6 Qa1+ 37.Ke2 Bg7 38.Qh5+ Kg8 39.Qf7+ Kh8 was my draw and seems to be correct!





32.Re7 Qb8 33.Rexh7 Qd6 is winning for Black!


32…Bg7 33.Rxh7 Kxh7 34.Qxg6+ Kh8 35.Re7 Qa3+


is Komodo’s win


And now 2 sensible suggestions!


c) 29.Kd1



The most sensible approach, abandoning any hope of getting at the Black king and using the f4 and e5 pawns as shields to get the White king out of the ay of the onrushing queenside pawns. It also makes sense of White’s last move which allows the king safe passage across the e-file behind the cover of the rook on e2. It really looks though as if Euwe lost track / couldn’t get to grips with the position and couldn’t keep hold of a consistent plan.


29…Na3 30.Qd2 d4 What a mess!


d) 29.Rh3



Preventing …Bh6 after f5 and increasing the strength of f5 and e6 from White by already putting pressure on the h7 pawn.


29…Na3 30.Qb3


is a computer suggestion, securing the b3 square for the White queen while avoiding the tactics in the game. White’s next moves will be Kd1–e1 to bring his king to safety on the kingside.


Back to Euwe’s unfortunate 29.Qb3!



29…Nxe5 30.Rxd5 c4



31.Qh3 Nd3+ 32.Kb1 Nxf4






Ingenious last-ditch defence from Euwe. The win isn’t easy to spot for Black (despite a computer evaluation of -3.81!)




33…Qc6 34.Qe3 Nxe2 35.Bxg7 c3 36.Qxe2 (36.Bh6 Qc4 37.Ka1 Nd4) 36…c2+ 37.Kc1 Kxg7 38.Nxb4 Qb6 wins. There are too many threats: …Qxa5, …Qxb4 and …Qg1+. Unfairly enough the position is equal after Yates’ move: White has just enough to round up Black’s pawns and secure the draw.


34.Rxa8 Rxa8 35.Bxg7 Kxg7 36.gxh3 b3 37.Nc3 Rd8 38.Kb2 Rd3 39.Na4 Rxh3 40.Nb6 g5 41.Nxc4 f5 42.Nd2 Kf6 43.Nxb3 h5 44.Kc2 f4 45.Nd4 h4 46.Kd2 Ra3 47.Ke1 h3 48.Re6+ Kf7 49.Re5 Kg6 50.Ne2 Ra2 51.Kf2 Kf6 52.Rc5 g4 53.Rc4 f3 54.Rxg4 fxe2 55.Rh4




A wonderful game. Yates did not have any particular reputation as a theoretician, but he was definitely one of the spiritual fathers of the swashbuckling King’s Indian play that seems so commonplace nowadays!

2 Comments on “Yates’ King’s Indian Defence

  1. Great blog! Just happened upon it after noting your monster grade on GingerGm, in the Gorm Monthly Moan column. The Yates KID stuff is really interesting – chess wise and historically. Suggestion – is it possible to have a play-through board on here? That would add value to your site. Secondly, if you ever might be interested in a trip to Japan btw, I’d be happy to sort chess stuff for you round Tokyo way, inc. accommodation with really nice people. Just a thought. The world is a big place and there is much to see…. Simon Bibby (Maidstone to Kobe!)

    1. Hey Simon! Thanks for your comment! A play-through board is something I’m looking at – I tried at the start but didn’t get it working and gave up. I’ll give it another go! Japan is most definitely on my world must-see list – if I’m ever organised enough to put a trip together, you’ll be the first to hear! Thanks! 🙂 Best Wishes, Matthew

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