My Investigations #4: Same Colour Bishop Endgame: The Bad Bishop

My Investigations #4: Same Colour Bishop Endgame: The Bad Bishop

IM vinniethepooh

Hi my chess friends. I am back with the fourth part of the series "My Investigations". Today we are talking about the tricky Same Colour Bishop Endgame. Missed the other Investigations?

My Investigations #1

My Investigations #2

My Investigations #3

The main image in this blog has been taken from the following youtube lecture: Same Colour Bishop Endgames: Endgame Exclam!! GM Christian Chrilia

First let us talk about some basic principles of this ending, followed by a few examples.

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Same Colour Bishop Endgame

The evaluation of these endgames is usually based on the placement of pawns. A bishop can be said to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ with regard to the pawn structure.

In these endings, the Capablanca rule is especially important. It says that our pawns must be situated on squares of the opposite colour than our own bishop. In this case our bishop becomes a "good bishop".  The bad bishop on the contrary, has its own pawns blocking its movement. This advantage is frequently enough to win the game.

What is the problem of the bad bishop?

  • The pawns can be attacked by the enemy bishop.
  • The squares of the other colour are not protected and the opposing king can take advantage of this fact to penetrate in our position.

A common misunderstanding with club players is that when pawns are fixed on the colour of the our bishop, they will be easier to defend. However, as we discussed this makes the bishop bad.

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  • Playing with pawns skilfully is the key! As mentioned above, remember about Capablanca rule.
  • Role of the king is significantly huge in this endgame! More often than not it is a question of how to breakthrough and for that the two main methods we use is Penetration of the king and the Principle of Two Weaknesses.
  • Fortress is a big possibility in such positions as the side with the bad bishop may just be able to regroup properly to hold weaknesses.
  • Zugzwang positions is a common factor in such positions. One of the easy and instructive examples of this is Averbakh’s Study.
  • We should think with schemes as most of these endgames are more strategic than concrete in nature. We usually should determine the plan of breakthrough.
  • We should try to create more distance between the weaknesses! This way it is more difficult for the side with the bad bishop to hold.

Of course it is not easy to understand all of this just by reading. Memorizing theory is not enough- we must learn to apply in practice!

I hope you are able to relate to this endgame after you see these examples. I recommend you to go through these carefully- all are quite instructive.

Image result for dvoretsky endgame manual

It is always a good idea to start with the basics. With the book "Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual" Dvoretsky highlights exactly this. Let us first learn about these theoretically important endgames from this book before moving on to more complex ones:

By those examples we learn a lot about Zugzwang. Dvoretsky's explanations are crystal clear and he explains the basics very well. The Endgame Manual is a must for any serious chess player!
Let us now move on to more complex ones which are not in Dvoretsky's book:
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