How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bishop Pair

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bishop Pair

NM CoachJKane
May 2, 2016, 6:43 PM |

Hello again chess friends,


As a chess coach it often seems like the value of two bishops compared to a other combinations of minor pieces is just something students are suposed to trust. I think it's often someting learned from experience, rather than study. I don't know if I won a serious game thanks to strong bishop pair until I was already a master-level player. This power of the bishops revealed itself quite on accident, based on a miscalculation in the position below. What would you play for white?










I calculated that if I sacrificed an exchange on c6, black's knight would be pinned on b6 and I could win back my material. Unfortunately, I missed a simple defense, and stayed down an exchange for a pawn. 








I was briefly shocked that I had missed Re6, but I still could keep a pin on the b6 knight, and before I knew it, the bishops took over and dominated the board! Look how the bishops prevent black from ever coordinating his pieces. I won quickly without black having any real chances.



Playing that game gave me a much healthier respect for the two bishops than I had before.

Another nice example of the power of the bishops, occured in this game, but one of the top columnists. White breaks all sorts of opening principles, but his bishops tear apart the black kingside, leading to a cool mating tactic.


Take care of your bishops and they can take care of you!