Put Your Bishop Behind Your Pawn

Put Your Bishop Behind Your Pawn

28 | Strategy

We continue our exploration of common chess patterns today by looking look at the pattern "a bishop behind a pawn." While most of you have probably heard about "Tarrasch rule" which recommends putting your rook behind a passed pawn, regardless of whether it is your own pawn or an opponent's pawn, you might wonder what's the point of putting a bishop behind a pawn. Today, we'll look at this interesting pattern.

Siegbert Tarrasch was a great lover of rules.

Imagine that you have a fianchettoed bishop on b2 looking at your opponent's kingside and a central e5-pawn. Here your opponent has a severe strategic problem: Your central e5-pawn restricts the movement of his pieces, but if he eliminates it by playing d7-d6 or f7-f6, then the bishop gets active and starts a direct attack against Black's king! This is a very aggressive strategic set-up which usually leads to a strong attack, like in the next game:

Recently Garry Kasparov was very close to creating his new masterpiece using this exact pattern. Unfortunately, in a completely winning position, he lost the thread of the game in a severe time scramble. (It was a three-minute blitz game!)

The famous Georgian grandmaster, Bukhuti Gurgenidze, was well known for his original ideas, but in the next game, he really outdoes himself. By move 12, his opponent was pretty much in zugzwang, and Gurgenidze simply waited until Black ran out of moves!

Out of moves by move 19, incredible!

The game is very short, just 19 moves. Try to guess White's moves from the 7th to the 19th. If on the very first try, you managed to guess correctly more than two moves out of 13 played in the game, you can be proud of yourself!

In the following game, Gurgenidze played the same enhanced set-up (bishop on b2, e5-pawn, b2-b4 pawn sacrifice) against one of the world's best defenders of that time, GM Ratmir Kholmov. The sailor who beat Bobby Fischer wasn't even able to reach move 25!

The set up that we discussed today is quite common and can happen in many popular openings. I hope this article will help you to turn this pattern into a powerful weapon in your games!

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