Fischer and the Bishop Against Knight

  • GM BryanSmith
  • | Nov 21, 2013

The eleventh world champion, Bobby Fischer, has to his credit a great number of very artistic endings in which he exploited the advantages of one minor piece over the other. One of his great strengths (of the many that he possessed) was a subtle understanding of the respective strengths of bishops and knights. I believe you could say that he helped to fine-tune the chess world's understanding of this imbalance. You can hardly find an example in which Fischer ended up on the wrong side of the bishop versus knight equation.

In this article I will be focusing on some artistic endings in which Fischer exploited the strengths of the bishop against the knight. One of the most well-known examples of this pure ending, which Fischer managed to win with basically no other advantages besides the bishop against the knight, is his game against Mark Taimanov from their 1971 Candidates Match:

Fischer & Taimanov in 1971 | Image uploaded by goldendog

A similar - but more complicated and artistic - ending occurred in Fischer's 1962 game against Mikhail Tal. This masterpiece was one of Fischer's best. From a slightly worse position at the start of the ending, he simply outplayed his opponent. Eventually he sacrificed a pawn, long-term, allowing his king to enter the black position and the bishop to show its superiority over the knight. Once again, Zugzwang developed (despite Black's extra pawn) - a typical method in battles between the bishop and the knight.

Note the similarities of the two endings - the use of Zugzwang, the presence of the "pawn triangles" on the wings, the use of the bishop's superior power to ensure the domination of its king.

When Tal was in the hospital in 1962, Fischer visited him

Now try to play like Fischer in the following bishop versus knight endgames from his practice:

In the following example, try to find the best way to activate the White pieces and strengthen his position:
In the following position, Fischer found a nice sacrifice which led to a position where the knight cannot fight against a passed pawn - a typical method in these endings, as you have seen.



  • 7 months ago


    Can White break through in the Fischer-Taimanov game after 25. Bf1 Ra8?

  • 3 years ago


    I've just looked at the first game so far, but through Houdini. The amazing thing is that black doesn't seem to make any wrong moves, but the eval creeps from a very minor advantage for white to a clear win. Evidence of very deep play by Fischer!

  • 3 years ago


    SomDip: Tal was born with a deformity of his right hand, but it is hard to see in most photos.

  • 3 years ago


    underpromotion is a tactic which is used when needed like when you dont want to stalemate so you pick up a bishop instead of a queen.

  • 3 years ago


    Will this build my game ??

  • 3 years ago


    thank you mcclain!

  • 3 years ago


    quietcrow. Look up the Lasker Trap in the Albin CG. I requires and underpromotion to a knight in order for black to win.

  • 3 years ago


    Fischer games are really gems and beauty, even his endgame were deep and exciting; not like boring Carlsen. Like in the Taimanov game against Fischer, Bobby take with his well place knight and capture Taimanov bad Bishop, even GMs thought that was wrong. But Fischer prove it was correct and won a beautiful endgame; not boring game at all. That is true a World Champion, not some boring current Champion ( Mr. Boring Carlsen).

  • 3 years ago


    nice article. thanks :)

  • 3 years ago


    Grande Artico !!! Obrigado !

  • 3 years ago


    An excellent article....imparts essential knowledge to every chess player....good...

  • 3 years ago


    This is a very good article, thanks and keep it up!

  • 3 years ago


    And yet, I feel like players below master level wouldn't prevail in these types of endings. Doesn't it take an incredibly strong player to realize the difference between the two minor pieces in such endings?

  • 3 years ago


    very nicely done article!! i especially enjoyed the puzzles and, throughout, the annotations. reminds me of articles energia has done. thanks so much IMBryanSmith Smile

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks! great work Awesomee!!!!

  • 3 years ago


    simply amazing !!!!

  • 3 years ago


    UGH! Still no pieces are displayed on any of the chess boards! UGH!

  • 3 years ago


    Fischer was the most genuse and smart chess player of the world, in days with no computers and no deep analyzer machines, he promoted the chess with discovering solutions and correcting the opennings! just see the Soozin atack in siciliian will show us a little, He changed the chess world!

  • 3 years ago



    There are positions (however contrived) where promotion to a Bishop instead of a Queen is preferred, in order to obtain a stalemate.

  • 3 years ago


    I'm saying that the Knight is unique, it's abilities are unlike that of any other piece.

    Would you ever take a Bishop over a Queen when you promote a pawn? Of course not, the Queen can do everything a Bishop can do and more.

    Would you ever take a Knight over a Queen? Maybe. I've never seen a situation like it occur, but a Knight can do things that a Queen cannot do.

    I'm gonna check this out.

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