Catch the Bishop if you Can

Catch the Bishop if you Can‎

WIM energia
18 | Middlegame

There are many openings where black gets his knight to a5: Sicilian, Ruy Lopez, Gruenfeld etc. In the Gruenfeld the knight is a rather active piece there, while in the Ruy Lopez and Sicilian it does not do much there. I would like to take a look at examples where black trades this knight for white’s light-squared bishop in hopes of gaining control over the light squares. This is an especially effective strategy when black has a fianchettoed bishop on b7. In the Sicilian this bishop can go as far as to attack the g2 square. Our first example illustrates this idea very clearly.





Sometimes, black can push his central pawns under the light-squared bishop protection. Then white might end up with an isolated pawn on e4, which black can effectively target. The next example shows this strategy, even though black did not succeed in winning, he was the one pressing.  





With a bishop on b7, and without the opponent’s bishop opposition, there are always tactics that one has to look for. This is so, because the h1-a8 diagonal is a very important one and if there is no white bishop protecting it, one has to always look for the possible sacrifices on g2. The next example is a good illustration of the above point.





If white has a massive pawn center, for example d5-e4 chain, black can still have a prospect for his bishop on b7 by undermining it with c6. Even, if at first it might look to be a hopeless task, one should always consider opening the game when having a pair of bishops, one of which is closed behind the opponent’s pawn chain.





Overall, the strategy of playing Na5 and taking a bishop on b3 can be very effective. This works very well when black has a bishop on b7. On b7 the bishop is located on a long diagonal from whence he can target both white’s centre and kingside. If the center is open and white’s king is castled on the short side (usually from Sicilian lines), then black has great prospects attacking the g2 square, like in the first and third examples. If the center is closed, then black can try to undermine it to let the bishop out as in the last example. It is important to notice that black should attack light squares, like in all of the above examples because white has no light-squared bishop to cover them.


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