by Steve Lopez

This week, we'll preview a new ChessBase CD: King's Indian Attack by Don Maddox. As with my preview of his CD on the Reti Opening (ETN, May 20, 2001), this preview comes with a caveat: Don's a longtime friend and also my boss at ChessBase USA. With that in mind, I'll repeat what I said in that past issue:

You don't have to be an Einstein to see an apparent conflict of interest here; however, keep in mind that I'm also employed as a writer by ChessBase GmbH. In light of this, nothing I write about a CB product in a "New CDs" column in ETN should ever be construed as an unbiased "review"; in fact, customers who've talked to me on the phone know that I always term these columns as "previews" (see ETN, April 15, 2001), because that's how I view them. I'm just telling you what's on a disk and giving you pointers to items or features you might find interesting, as well as guidelines as to the level of chessplayer at which a particular CD is aimed. After that, it's up to you to decide whether or not a CD will be of value to you.


Don has a long history with the King's Indian Attack (herefater referred to as the KIA); he co-authored a book on this opening in 1993. Prior to that he coached a high school chess team of relative beginners and took them to the State Championship (which they won) with the KIA as their principle weapon. Don's also an avid correspondence player and has been playing the KIA himself for many years. While Don's not a grandmaster, I'd certainly term him a leading authority on the KIA.

As is the case with most authors of ChessBase opening CDs, Don concentrates on the ideas behind this opening rather than on rote memorization of specific variations. This is a particularly effective approach to use with the KIA; due to the many transpositional possibilities and variety of Black openings it can be used against, you really need to learn KIA structures instead of variations. And Don's a fine writer -- he writes for the average player, not for titled players. So I'd classify King's Indian Attack as a CD suitable for players rated 1300+ USCF.

Don opens the KIA CD with a discussion of what makes this opening (a reverse of Black's King's Indian Defense) a useful one to add to your repertoire. He follows this up with a chapter on basic KIA principles. This chapter contains links to some heavily annotated sample games -- nearly every move of each of these games has a text annotation describing the action. He also provides opening key links to additional similar games; once you've read one of these annotated games, numerous related games are just a mouse click away.

Next comes the "meat and potatoes" of the structural approach: two chapters that divide the KIA into several sample structures for White and Black. Don breaks these sample structures down move by move to not only show you the structure but also why the moves are played.

Don also provides short biographies and photos of famous players who were/are acknowledged masters of the KIA, with brief discussions of why they played this particular opening.

Next in the database are sixteen ChessBase-generated opening reports on various systems within the KIA. These provide you with links to important games as well as the key plans for the players and useful statistical information on each of the variations.

The main database on this CD contains nearly 21,000 KIA games. Over 700 of these are annotated. In fact, Don has annotated over 100 of these himself, either alone or in conjunction with other annotators (in the latter case, by adding additional text amplification to these largely symbolically-annotated games).

The CD also contains a database of training questions -- sixteen games containing timed training questions which let you test your knowledge under actual clock conditions. There's also a KIA opening tree, usable for statistical study in ChessBase/Fritz or as a Fritz opening book (loading it forces Fritz to play nothing but the KIA). The tree contains over a quarter-million individual opening positions. And, as always, the CD comes complete with a copy of ChessBase Light which you can use as a "reader" program to access the information on the CD: this makes the KIA CD a complete standalone product -- no other software is required (although owners of ChessBase or any of the Fritz family of playing programs will certainly want to use them instead of CB Light).

So if you have a hankering to add something new to your opening repertoire, if you want an introduction to hypermodern openings, if you want to play the KIA and feel you need some extra text explanation to get you started, or if you just want to play through a lot of well-annotated games, I encourage you to give King's Indian Attack by Don Maddox a try.

Until next week, have fun!

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