Good Bishop/ Bad Bishop

Grumly06

Hello !

To help you identify if your Bishops are good or bad and to give you the keys to turn a bad Bishop into a good one, I have created this video:

Hope you will find it useful happy.png

Do not hesitate to ping me in case something is unclear or if I forgot to deal with one part of the issue.

ThrillerFan

The video was pretty weak.

 

First off, a bad Bishop, a passive bishop, and a blocked Bishop are not the same thing.  For example, if White has pawns on c4, blocked by a black pawns on c5, and a pawn on e4, blocked by a black pawns on e5, and the White Bishop is on d5, this is still a bad bishop.  Bishops have 4 classifications.  You can have a passive bad Bishop  (typical of the French Advance or Classical King's Indian), an Active Bad Bishop (example given above), passive good bishop (i.e. Black's e7-Bishop in the Petroff), and an Active Good Bishop.

 

The example with the e2 bishop is really weak because white can play f4 immediately.  Nobody cares if a mobile pawn blocks the Bishop, you move the pawn with whatever prep may be required to move it.  It is all about keeping that pawn immobile, forcing your opponent to maintain a bad Bishop.  For example, in the French, there is a reason White pushes e5.  To keep that bishop on c8 or d7 bad.

 

That said, in the exchange French or open tarrasch, that is still black's bad Bishop because of the immobile pawn on d5, but it may be easier for Black to trade off for White's bishop or knight.

 

Also, the classical development rarely sees both bishops being developed to the 4th or 5th rank.  I emphasize rarely.

 

Far more common is for one of them to go to e2, e3, d3, or d2.  Part of it is coordination.  The example given there is poor because you will never see a wide open board with bishops on b1 and a1.  It is more about coordination, such as going for a kingside attack.  Let's say white wants to attack the weak h7 square after black has castles.  Bc4 or Bb5 would be stupid and lack coordination with the DSB that went to g5.  Instead, you develop them to g5 and d3.  The DSB is to rid Black of the defender on f6.  The LSB combines with the Queen and either a knight or lifted rook to go for the kill on the black king.

 

Another common thing completely overlooked here is in Endgames.  With a blocked position, bishops that look bad because they are blocked by the opponents pawns are really not bad.  If the King's are on the kingside, each side has their LSB, White's is on the other side with his king, and you have something like WP a2, WP b3, WP c4, BP a3, BP b4, BP c5, often times one has to look out for scenarios like ...Bxc4 bxc4 b3 axb3 a2 winning, or if White ignores b3 but can't cover b1 in time, then b2 and b1=Q.

 

Also, facts about how bishops can indeed influence the other color complex.  A knight on a dark square only covers light squares, so a DSB can have major influence over the light squares by pinning or exchanging for a knight.

 

A lot of weak examples in the video and a lot of missing items.  Even the example with the g3 bishop blocked by Black's pawns.  White can get that bishop back in the game with f3 and Bf2 (or Be1).  He can play h4 to trade on g5 to partially weaken the blockade and open the h-file for attack if his heavies can get there before Black's do.  A pawn sacrifice with f4 is possible later on, especially if that scenario is with black only being able to double take on f4 with pawns and is left with isolated double f-pawns.

 

No follow up analysis of what to do with or against bad bishops.  Even an 800 player can see when his bishop is nothing more than a tall pawn.  It is what to do in situations with it.  In the French, it is often a critical defender to the often weak e6 pawn.  There are many other scenarios where it plays a critical role of defending key squares.  There is a famous game that I do not recall the players where a superior white Knight on c5 takes a bad Bishop on d7 that shatters black's position completely  (covered in Bishop v Knight the Verdict).

 

There is a lot of editing to do if this is going to be useful to even a 1200 player!

selkea

great video as always

Grumly06

I can't ask for feedbacks and ignore the negative ones happy.png

So thank you @ThrillerFan, for such a long and detailed feedback.

About the example with the e2-pawn and the d3-e4-f3 pawns, I think we both agree that this Bishop can be activated pretty easily. I do think I even mention the f4-push myself in the video. But OK, my bad for labelling it as a "bad bishop" too quickly.

 

About the example with the Bishop on g3, I was actually quite impressed by a Capablanca-Winter game with a Bishop on g3 that remained there for the rest of the game. My desire to craft an original position made me overlook the possibility f3 - Bishop f2 ! I should probably simply have shown the position from the actual game (where there is a white doubled pawn on f3, and in this setup, the Bishop can never be reactivated).

 

I'll actually probably make a new version of this lesson for a future website and I'll take those feedbacks into account to propose an improved version of this lesson (yes, yes !)

Preggo_Basashi
ThrillerFan wrote:

There is a famous game that I do not recall the players where a superior white Knight on c5 takes a bad Bishop on d7 that shatters black's position completely  (covered in Bishop v Knight the Verdict).

 

It's a great game and story

I'll post it so others can see

 

 

Robert Byrne: 
21...♗d7 
<The press center was hopping with excitement as the journalists all gathered around chess table showing various ways of how can White can improve his position. The move ...♗b5 should be stopped. The immidiate favourite was 22.a4 which just about everybody would play. After furthur consideration 22.♔f2 ♗b5 23.♔e3 became the favourite. Bobby played...>

22.♘xd7+!? 
<This brought the house down! GM Miguel Najdorf jumped up and started shouting, 'My God!! He's crazy!! Such a knight!! My God!! How can he give uo such a knight for such a terrrrrible bishop?' Of course no one else understood Bobby the way I did. You see I played a lot with Bobby and analysed with him at length. You see Bobby loved bishops. According to the way he played chess, Bobby was just driving the nails into the coffin. The bishop may look bad but it's not. The position is open. The c5-knight is great but it blocks the open c-file. Finally the d3-bishop is so much superior to a knight when there are pawns on both sides of the board. Bobby was just using his principles. As for the Soviets, GM Suetin smiled and showed a great sense of relief.>

31.♖ee7 
<At this point I was so excited I could hardly glance up from my typewriter. I wanted it all be true Bobby was dismantling Petrosian and was on his way to meet Spassky. Of course thnervous as it involves some sacrifices iI hadn't worked out. I cast a glance at Soviet delegation and saw that GM Suetin 's mouth was wide open and he looked pale. A bit worried, I asked if he was alright? He turned, looked at me and murmured, 'My god, he plays so simply.' I turned back to my typewriter and laughed within myself so hard it hurt.>

 

 

 

 

superchessmachine

[ @goodknight0badbishop intensifies]

ghost_of_pushwood
ThrillerFan wrote:

For example, if White has pawns on c4, blocked by a black pawns on c5, and a pawn on e4, blocked by a black pawns on e5, and the White Bishop is on d5, this is still a bad bishop.  

 

 

 

not really...

Preggo_Basashi
ghost_of_pushwood wrote:
ThrillerFan wrote:

For example, if White has pawns on c4, blocked by a black pawns on c5, and a pawn on e4, blocked by a black pawns on e5, and the White Bishop is on d5, this is still a bad bishop.  

 

 

 

not really...

That's the terminology some people use though. A bad bishop can be a good piece, but it gets its "bad bishop" label from the pawns.

KingSullian

Hey!!!!!   This is really good stuffy here! Thank ya' very much!  happy.png 

ghost_of_pushwood
Preggo_Basashi wrote:

A bad bishop can be a good piece, but it gets its "bad bishop" label from the pawns.

That's specious.  It's only "bad" in an endgame when the enemy king can get in behind.  Otherwise it can be very strong indeed...

Preggo_Basashi
ghost_of_pushwood wrote:
Preggo_Basashi wrote:

A bad bishop can be a good piece, but it gets its "bad bishop" label from the pawns.

That's specious.  It's only "bad" in an endgame when the enemy king can get in behind.  Otherwise it can be very strong indeed...

Yeah, I don't know what to say.

When I was ~1300 I thought it was really genius.

Looking back it seems like a useless label and a bad way to teach.

But the 1300 me found it useful, so I'm not sure shrug*

ghost_of_pushwood

It's fine as long as they start their lessons around move 50... grin.png

Preggo_Basashi

In his defense (I read it from Silman) he immediately gives 3 solutions to a "bad" bishop (and yes it's a middlegame book, so no endgame stuff).

1) Move it outside the pawn chain
2) Move your pawns off that color
3) Exchange your bad bishop for one of their minor pieces

ghost_of_pushwood

The real question is:  what does it matter whether it's "bad" or not if it's mating you? happy.png

Preggo_Basashi

Yeah, I'd rather judge a piece on its own merits.

But recalling back to when you're a new player, chess is just a big ball of confusing crap, and nothing makes sense. So having something concrete that mostly works is a relief. Later after you get more experience you can (and should) question all these platitudes and rules you learned while working your way up.

ghost_of_pushwood

I suspect this is all a quibble on the word "bad." happy.png  I also should say that I've seen Karpov make good use of many a bad B in the middlegame...

ghost_of_pushwood

(Incidentally, has Grumly ever spent a day out in the sun?) grin.png

Grumly06

@ghost_of_pushwood: I actually live in a very sunny area near the sea but, well, I don't particularly like roasting under the sun. A matter of taste happy.png

 

@all: I am glad I am not the only one puzzled by the notion of "powerful bad" Bishop  happy.png I had never heard about that.