13 January 2007

Q: Is the KID dead? • A: Definitely not.

The second of the two questions in Is the KID dead? was, 'Who else besides Kasimdzhanov (currently FIDE 2672) plays it at the 2650+ level?' To answer this I used the Position Search at www.chesslab.com.

I asked ChessLab to return all games in 2006 starting 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6, by players rated 2600 or better. There are a few quirks of its search to keep in mind. At the time I asked the question the ChessLab database was up-to-date through November 2006, meaning I missed one month of games. Also, its search on rating returns all games where at least one player was rated 2600, not necessarily the player of the Black pieces. Most importantly, the search can't pick up relevant games where one of the first moves is other than those I searched on. The KID is a fluid opening and transpositions to it are possible by many different move orders.

The search returned 353 games with the position through 2...g6, and matching my other criteria. Of those, 302 continued 3.Nc3, and 126 continued 3...d5, the Gruenfeld Defense. The 174 that continued 3...Bg7 are real KIDs. If I had wanted a more precise count, which I didn't, I could have done a search from this position. The Gruenfeld is another opening that has been declared dead.

For the record, of the 174 KIDs, 160 continued 4.e4, with 151 of those 4...d6. At that point the games started to diferentiate into many different variations: 74 5.Nf3, 31 5.f3, 18 5.Be2, 10 5.Bd3, 12 5.h3, 5 5.Nge2, and 2 5.f4.

Of the 174 games that reached 3...Bg7, 51 had the player of the Black pieces rated above 2650. These broke down by player as follows: Bologan 12; Radjabov 10; Smirin 6; Morozevich 5; J.Polgar, Mamedyarov, and Kasimdzhanov, 3 each; Volokitin 2; Van Wely, Svidler, Najer, Motylev, Ivanchuk, Areshchenko, and Almasi, 1 each.

I was pleased to see a few world top-10 players in the list. The KID isn't dead. It's alive and kicking.

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