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Endgames: Knight Versus Bishop Part 1

Endgames: Knight Versus Bishop Part 1

Apr 11, 2010, 5:14 PM 0

The bishop and knight are probably the two most compared pieces, quite naturally since their values are so close.  Is one better than the other?  This depends on the circumstance.  In this case I will be examining a single bishop versus a single knight in the endgame.  I took two scenarios, one where both sides had six pawns, the other where both sides had four pawns.  Theoretically with fewer pawns the bishop should be better due to his superior mobility.  Looking at only strong master games the knight side won 51.6% of the points while with four pawns the bishop side eeked out 50.2% of the available points.  A small but significant swing.  Certainly either side has hope and the majority of games still end in draws.  As I looked over the games in the database I reviewed a few of the games that were decisive and featured thee highest rated players.  I noticed two key elements in this type of endgame, piece activity (both the minor and the king), and king penetration.  Even though this seems elementary it's amazing how even grandmasters can lose drawn positions.  A few examples will follow, the first today, is the most persistent one I saw where Bobby Fischer poked and prodded until Taimanov could no longer hold back the tide.

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