Bojkov on the KID

This review has been printed in the June 2014 issue of the British Chess Magazine.  A penultimate version of the review is reproduced here.  My thanks to the good folks at BCM for allowing me to do so.

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Bojkov, Dejan.  Modernized: The King’s Indian Defense.  Los Angeles: Metropolitan Chess Publishing, 2014. 365pp. ISBN 978-0985628109. PB $24.99; currently slightly less on Amazon.

The King’s Indian Defense spent a few years in the wilderness after Kasparov famously gave it up in the late 1990s. It has recently found new champions in Nakamura and Radjabov, and analysts like Dejan Bojkov – like Vigorito and Kotronias before him – are assisting with its resurgence.

This the first book from Metropolitan Chess Publishing, the publishing arm of a group of Los Angeles organisers and teachers. Dejan Bojkov is a well-known grandmaster and author of chess videos for chess.com and ChessBase. This is his second book, having previously co-written A Course in Chess Tactics for Gambit. Modernized… is his second analytical foray into the King’s Indian Defense, as he made the DVD, A Modern Way to Play the King’s Indian for ChessBase in 2011. Some readers might be concerned about the potential overlap between this new book and the DVD, and indeed, some of the repertoire recommendations are the same.

Modernized… (book) A Modern Way (DVD)
Classical 6 Be2 e5 7 0-0 exd4 6…Na6
Samisch 6 Be3 c5; 6 Bg5 a6 6.Be3 c5; 6.Bg5 a6
Four Pawns 5…0-0 6 Nf3 e5 (also 6…Na6 followed by …e5) 5…0-0 6 Nf3 Na6 and 7 Be2 e5, 7 Bd3 Bg4
‘Averbakh’ (Be2 + Bg5) 5 Be2 0-0 6 Bg5 Na6 5 Be2 0-0 6.Bg5 Na6
‘Bagirov’ (Nf3 + h3) 5 Nf3 0-0 6 h3 Na6 5 Nf3 0-0 6.h3 Na6
Fianchetto Kavalek (…c6, …Qa5) Kavalek (…c6, …Qa5)
Other N/A Seirawan variation (5 Bd3, 6 Nge2)

It’s clear that Bojkov’s ‘modernized’ King’s Indian is not the classic, ‘civilized’ (Shelby Lyman) race of pawn storms on opposing flanks. Bojkov’s repertoire choices attempt to keep piece play fluid while maximizing flexibility.

The analysis in Modernized… is given as a series of complete games. This has advantages and drawbacks, the most notable of which is that the analysis often continues long past the point of relevance to the opening. Where the recommendations are the same as that of the DVD, Bojkov has updated and augmented his analysis. In the Kavalek variation, for instance, Bojkov patches a hole from the DVD by grappling with an Avrukh suggestion. Still, attentive readers will note that few (if any) references are given to post-2012 practice, leading one to rightfully wonder when and how the updating took place.

Bojkov is a skilled analyst, and the density allowed by the print medium is a boon to his readers. There is a lot of analysis packed into these pages, and a judicious mix of prose and moves makes for a comfortable read. Also included are a series of ‘memory markers,’ or key positions re-iterated after each chapter, along with a number of exercises designed to test what the reader has learned. Both add to the text, although some of the ‘memory markers’ come from positions too deep in the game to be of much use.

Bojkov’s book is a practical and well-executed take on a King’s Indian repertoire. Players looking to avoid a memorization contest in the ultra-main lines would do well to look here for inspiration. It can be recommended to club players and above, but I suspect that even the FIDE titled readers of BCM would find Modernized useful. The author is a Bulgarian grandmaster.

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