Fischer and the Bishop Against Knight

Fischer and the Bishop Against Knight

| 36 | Endgames

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.


More from GM BryanSmith
Magnus Carlsen And The Nimzo-Indian Defense

Magnus Carlsen And The Nimzo-Indian Defense

Vishy Anand And The Semi-Slav Defense

Vishy Anand And The Semi-Slav Defense