How to Play a Proper Endgame in Blitz #3: Bishop Endgames

How to Play a Proper Endgame in Blitz #3: Bishop Endgames

CM Chessdemon2019

Hello everyone! The bishop is a long ranged piece that moves in a diagonal. It can only control a maximum of 13 squares when it is at the center of the board. Bishop endgames are relatively easier than other endgames because they are blind to half the squares of the board. This also means that bishop endgames have an extremely high drawing tendency.

Bishop endgames are quite simple when you are playing blitz. However, some types of positions are harder than others, especially when there is a passed pawn. There are also multiple types of bishop endgames. I have a few tips for playing bishop endgames in blitz when the positions are complicated and mistakes are easy to make. Note: This article is best for players U2200 in FIDE rating. Note: This article does NOT cover double-bishop endgames

1. Restrict the Bishop

Like how restricting the knight (see How to Play a Proper Endgame in Blitz #2: Knight Endgames) is important in an endgame, restricting the bishop is also extremely important. Most people are probably familiar with the fact that you should put your pawns on the opposite colour of your bishop to increase the amount of squares you control.

As you can see, black's position is horrible. His bishop cannot even move to a safe square; white's king and bishop dominate the position and white will win the position easily. Although bishop endgames are extremely likely to draw, some positions are just horrible for one side.

Restricting the bishop does not mean that you will win. You need to have a significant advantage to win. Restricting the bishop just increases your odds of winning, especially in blitz. The bishop is a long ranged piece, but it can only control 13 squares maximum. You will need to calculate ways to restrict your opponent's bishop, even if that means losing time on the clock.

Even though white is up a pawn, he cannot do anything with his bishop so black as an extremely easy draw. Restricting the white bishop helps black get a much easier draw than if the bishop were on d4.

White can try and press with his well placed bishop on d4, instead of h4. Although white has chances now, his bishop is still blind to all the light-squares. This means that it is most likely going to be a draw as white cannot attack the black pawns without his king. Still, white can press. Without a restricted bishop, white has gained his winning chances back. Restricting the bishop is extremely important, even if it means using a chunk of time.

2. Passed Pawns

Passed Pawns are extremely important in every single type of endgame, but in a bishop endgame, it could decide the result. The reason behind this is that bishop endgames are extremely easy to draw, but the passed pawn of one of the bishop's worst enemies.

One pawn is sufficient material for a win, so every passed pawn counts, even when it feels like a dead draw. Passed pawns are able to save games and win them. In blitz, a passed pawn could make your opponent stop premoving, making you get an edge on time and hopefully enough to flag your opponent. For more information on passed pawns, check out How to Play a Proper Endgame in Blitz #1: Pawn Endgames.

3. Opposite-Colored Bishop Endgames

Before, I was mostly talking about same-colored bishop endgames. Opposite-Colored Bishop Endgames almost always end in a draw because the bishops can't interact with each other. Especially in Blitz, threefold-repetition is extremely common. However, just one mistake can decide a game.

In the original position, white just needs to play Bg6-h7-g6 and is able to get an easy draw. However, if white does not do this and plays Bf5, he will lose the game as black will find h5! It is quite easy to make a mistake in a blitz game, and one mistake could just decide the game.

Small mistakes can make big changes to a position, especially in blitz. In an opposite-colored bishop endgame, there are many opportunities to make mistakes.

Although it is extremely easy to make a mistake, some positions are just drawn without anything in mind. In this position, black just needs to keep his bishop controlling the f5-square and he will draw easily.

Opposite colored bishop endgames are genuinely hard to win. It requires calculation and a lot of time. In blitz, a pawn or two pawns up might not even decide the game if your time is low. These endgames are just extremely hard to win when you are low on time so I won't go into more detail.

4. Simplification

Like knight endgames (covered in How to Play a Proper Endgame in Blitz #2: Knight Endgames), it is extremely important to know when to simplify in a bishop endgame. Some calculation is definitely required when simplifying, but here are two guidelines for deciding.

Firstly, if you have a passed pawn and your opponent doesn't, simplify right away. Even if the pawn endgame is losing (which most likely it isn't) you will most likely find a way to at least draw if your opponent is low on time.

This is one example of what white can do for simplification. White has a passed pawn and black does not. This is why white simplifies and wins. Passed pawns are a crucial weapon when simplifying and this guideline includes all endgames.

Secondly, never simplify if your opponent has further advanced pawns. When your opponent has further advanced pawns, he will win in most pawn races, thus resulting in a loss. 

In this position white should definitely not trade, even though the protected passed pawn looks tempting. This is because black's pawns are so much further advanced that black would win the pawn race. These two guidelines will help you determine when to simplify and when not to, but calculation is still the most important thing when in a blitz game.

5. Stay Calm

This is important in every blitz game because having panicking will only worsen your calculation skills. When you stay calm and play your best, good outcomes will arise, no matter what the circumstances. Like I said in the previous articles in this series, staying calm is the key to winning every game, whether it be on or in an OTB tournament. Stay calm, play your best, and you will win your games!

Thanks for reading!

CM Chessdemon2019

P.S please check out Part #1 and Part #2 for some more of my tips for playing proper endgames in blitz! Check out my blog for some more stuff to read!

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