This very morning a paragraph from Garry Kasparov’s book series “My great predecessors” (part II, page 168) struck me:
“In that first post-war year, full of hopes and expectations, the fresh wind of King’s Indian ideas burst into chess. The wind blew from the Ukraine, with its rich chess traditions – first from Kyiv, from where came Boleslavsky, Bronstein and their teacher Konstantinopolsky, a little later from Odessa, where Geller grew up, and then from Lviv, where Stein appeared… And it was not just a matter of the King’s Indian Defence and not simply a change of generations, but that the new masters appeared with quite different chess baggage, having assimilated and creatively processed the rich heritage of the past.”
Just to be clear, the year was 1946. The opening sequence 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 without 3…d5 was occasionally seen since a few decades but only caught ground through the efforts of these Ukrainian players. As Zigurds Lanka points it was never related to games or analyses by Indian players. King’s Indian is actually not universally used: In France it’s called Défense est-indienne (East Indian), in Russia Staroindiskaya Zashchita (Old Indian Defense).
The fight of the Ukrainians is strong and heroic, and this is the spirit of the King’s Indian Defence.
Today, the Ukrainian people – among them many chess players of all levels – are fighting for their lives, their property, their future and their independence. One of them is my Bundesliga teammate Igor Kovalenko. He remains in Kyiv and cares for elderly neighbours who are too frail to flee from the atrocities. The fight of Igor and his people is strong and heroic, and this is the spirit of the King’s Indian Defence.
As chess players we can send a strong message. Let us rename the King’s Indian the “Ukrainian Defence” from now on. This is historically fair and a tribute to the great Ukrainian chess players who advanced it in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. This is also an expression of our confidence that the Ukrainian people will resist the Russian aggressors and successfully defend their country, their liberty and the liberty of us all.