Under Cover of Bishop

Under Cover of Bishop‎

GM BryanSmith
37 | Middlegame

There are certain kinds of positions where one particularly well-placed piece leads the entire action, like a conductor in a symphony. We chess players always try to put our pieces in good places, but it is more difficult than it seems. A piece that looks good may not have any bearing on the real direction of the game. In fact, in most chess positions the pieces for both sides are placed “okay” – but when one piece is particularly bad or particularly good, it usually has a decisive impact on the game. 

Today we will see some games where the attack was watched over by a bishop which never moves but is undeniably the spiritual force of the attack. In fact, the main difficulty with obtaining this kind of bishop is not managing to put it on a long diagonal, unblocked with pawns; but rather making it relevant to the direction of the game and placing it in coordination with the other pieces. But when such coordination occurs, the results can be fantastic. Now let’s see…


Quite a tour de force! The bishop on b2 never moved, but it was watching over things the whole time, and it would be hard to deny that this was White’s key piece.

How many games have been won by black in the Dragon due to the influence of the dark-squared bishop? Thousands? Millions? Here is one I played a while ago in a random small tournament in New York City. After this game I couldn't finish the tournament because the person who had promised that I could stay with him in Brooklyn instead was gambling in Atlantic City! So I wandered around the city all night and took the train home at 4 AM.


Just as in the first game, the bishop made just one move - ...Bg7. Yet it was the true force behind Black's play. 

Now you can solve some combinations where the main role is played by an all-powerful bishop:





Finally, we have the following position from the game Pomar-Larsen, Palma de Mallorca 1969. 

In the actual game, the move 19.Bc2 was played, and the game ended in a draw. According to GM Eduard Gufeld in his autobiography My Life In Chess, he found an amazing combination in this position. He wrote that he showed the position to Bobby Fischer, who was also able to find it. This spectacular combination fits well in with our theme, where the prelate "hidden" on b2 radiates enormous power on the kingside:

It makes you wonder what combinations are lurking in normal-looking positions, still undiscovered!

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