Two Bishops End games

Aug 8, 2009, 5:11 AM |

In continuing with my training I am now working on two Bishops. I think I have now gotten a pretty good hold on them.

George Orloz in his article writes that Bishop endings do not happen as frequently as Rook endgames, but a player should have some general knowledge of how to play them.

First, let’s look at some basic rules for Bishop endings as written by Orloz.


1) A King must be active. In general, the King must advance towards the center, and then depending on the situation, it should help its pawns to advance, or attack the opponent’s pawns.


2) Pawns belong on squares of the color opposite to your own Bishop’s color. For instance, if you have a light Bishop, you should put your pawns on dark squares.


The four rules work not only in Bishop endings, but in other endings as well.


3) “One fixes two.” When a pawn can hold two of the opponent’s pawns, it should do so in most cases.


4) Always advance your passed pawn first.


5) No pawn move should be played without a clear purpose.


6) Rule of two weaknesses: when possible, a player should create a second weakness in his opponent’s position. Such a weakness can be a weak square or weak pawn.

That said lets look at the plan to do this. Below are two basic mating positions. In the first one we have the normal "trapped" in the corner. The second one is a bit trickier, at least to me.

How do we get there? Here is the plan.
  1. Place your Bishops side by side. The motive behind this is to enclose and restrict the opponent's king in a "pyramidal tomb". He cannot cross the diagonals of which the bishops cover, nor can he advance and attack the two bishops. The positioning should look something like this:

  2. We now want to push the opponents King to the back rank. How do you do that, you ask? Well, the key to pushing the black king backwards is to have the bishops zig-zag one square at a time towards the black king, all while the white king gives support. The king is going to be a protection piece, so you must bring him up so he sits right next to the bishop. It doesn't matter which side, but in this example the king is to the left. Now, whichever side your white king is on, you are going to move the opposite side bishop up one square, towards the white king (to the left, in this case).

    In our example the King steps forward first. Then we zig-zag with the Bishops.

    We are going to continue to drive black's king back until he is on his back rank with only two spaces two move.
  3. Now we drive the black king in the corner. Remember that you must keep the black king on the back rank to keep him from getting away.

All together Now!


There are 3 steps:

1 - Set your bishops up so they are side by side. Get the king next to the bishops.
2 - Drive the opponent's king to the back rank using a zig-zag motion with the bishops. Make sure the king supports the bishops! Watch that Tempo!
3 - Force the opponent's king into the corner and make sure he doesn't leave the back rank!

Here are a couple of videos to help you get it down.