My Favorite Classic Games, Part 3

My Favorite Classic Games, Part 3

| 15 | Strategy

This series is all about the classic games that, as a young teen (15 years of age), affected me in a profound manner. In general, they were positional games since, for a kid that grew up on attacking chess and combinations (12 to 14 years of age), strategic considerations were left behind and, as a result, were alien.

Thus, when I was finished studying games by Adolf Anderssen, Morphy, Spielmann, Marshall, Alekhine and Tal, I decided to check out less extreme players and broaden my chess horizons.

The games I will share might or might not be masterpieces; the criterion for this series is that they taught me an extremely important lesson(s) that made me well rounded and much stronger. I’m hoping that these games will teach you the same lessons, thereby improving your positional understanding and helping you become a better player.

This week we’ll look at an example of one very important topic: good active bishop vs. bad inactive bishop. I came across this game during my Smyslov phase, and it really helped me understand Bishops in a much deeper way.

The first part of the game (which I won’t give) wasn’t very interesting, and the position in the diagram seems like a draw should be the logical (and boring) result. However, Black enjoys one small plus that he can milk: Black’s queenside pawns are on dark squares while most of White’s are on light squares. These means that: 

  1. White’s bishop can easily end up with less mobility since his own pawns block it.
  2. White’s pawns might turn out to be targets since Black’s bishop can take aim at them, while White’s bishop can’t touch Black’s queenside pawns.

Let’s have a look at how things played out:

Returning to the very important position from move 38, I’ll show some possibilities that will highlight Black’s whole strategy in an instructive, interesting manner. Make sure you look at it and fully understand what’s going on.


By Angelo DeSantis

If you’re into Smyslov, I highly recommend his wonderful book, My Best Games of Chess 1935-1957. I own the first edition hardcover, but the paperback is far easier to find.



  • Most high-level games aren’t won by attack or tactical tricks, they are won by creating an imbalance, nurturing it, and ultimately making serious gains due to it.
  • Even the smallest imbalance can bring you huge rewards if you water it and help it grow.
  • One common imbalance is the battle between a bishop that isn’t blocked by its pawns and enjoys active use of various diagonals (an active good bishop), versus a bishop that’s blocked by its own pawns and doesn’t have many diagonals to run on (an inactive bad bishop).
  • The good bishop vs. bad bishop battle happens all the time, and every serious player needs to have a firm grasp about its fundamentals.
  • Find out what “Danger Will Robinson, danger!” means. You’ll be a better human being if you do, loved by gods and demi-gods alike.


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