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Bishop versus Knight (Part 1)

Dejan Bojkov Avg Rating: 1661 Endgames

It is generally known that the bishop is stronger than the knight in most cases. Some experts even call such an advantage "a small exchange." Why the bishop is better, and when in the endgame-- this is what we are going to discover in our course. I tried to choose only fresh samples from modern practice when strong players were following their plans in the best possible way. The only exception is the last sample, which is a true masterpiece and it would be a pity not to include it in the course. I hope you will enjoy it, good luck!

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  • Pawns on Two Flanks (Symmetry)

    I always use Capablaca's "Chess Manual" to explain to my students the general idea why the bishop is better than the knight in the endgame. Here is what the great Cuban teaches us: "In this position it is better to have the bishop, although after correct play the game should end in a draw. The advantage of the bishop over the knight is that it can attack from far away, from the center both flanks of the opponent, and the ability quickly to transfer from one side of the board to the...
  • Pawns on both Flanks (Assymetry)

    Capablanca: "In this position the bishop has an indisputable advantage. Both players have an equal number of pawns, but they are not balanced on the flanks. White is somewhat better although after a correct play the game should end in a draw." The less symmetrical the position is the more powerful the bishop feels.
  • Pawns on both Flanks (further Assymetry)

    Capablanca: "In this position the bishop has an obviously decisive advantage over the knight as the pawns are not only placed on both flanks, but there are also passed pawns. It will be extremely difficult, if even possible, for Black to achieve a draw here." And indeed, White can simply place his bishop on b2 from where it will both stop the black passers and support his own. The opponent's knight cannot manage in both functions and will have simply to be on the defense." Just...
  • Domination

    Efimenko-Najer, Bundesliga 2008/2009 The bishop can dominate the knight alone, if the latter is at the edges of the board, and trap it.
  • Domination and the Corner Pawns

    Cmilyte-Csonka, Gibtelecom Masters 2009 A rook's pawn is a real nightmare for the knights. As soon as that springy horse comes close to the edge of the board it loses power, and becomes a clumsy donkey. In the featured position White manages to convert a single corner pawn, and one that promotes on the "wrong" square-- the opposite color of the bishop.
  • Restriction, Deflection, Win

    Kveinys-Ejsmont, Polish Ekstraliga 2006 White is practically a pawn ahead as the black f-pawns are doubled and he has the opportunity to realize his advantage by combining play with his passer and limitation of the knight. In this example we see another inconvenient square for the knight.
  • Material Advantage

    Carlsen-Adams, World Cup Khanty-Mansiysk 2007 Converting the material advantage is an easy task if the opponent cannot build a fortress.
  • Positional Advantage

    Ki. Georgiev-Nisipeanu FIDE Wch k.o. 2000 When the stronger side has possibility for play on both flanks the bishop becomes a monster.
  • Pawn Fixation

    Adams-Karjakin, ECC men 2007 We have seen so far that bishops have one general drawback-their "color blindness." In order to use these pieces correctly we must use our pawns in a proper way, helping the bishops have fixed targets.
  • Outside Passed Pawn

    Rej-Castor, Sydney International Open 2010 An outside passed pawn is a great advantage in all endgames. A bishop is extremely happy to have such support as it eases its main hobby- play on two flanks.
  • Play on both Flanks

    Ki. Georgiev- Erdos, EICC Budva 2009 Play on both flanks is the most successful strategy in the bishop versus knight endgames.
  • Complex Positions

    Bogner-Mutschnik, 2 Bundesliga South 2008/09 Black's prospects look grim, as his opponent simply wants to come and destroy the b pawn, after which he will be practically a pawn ahead. At the same time black bishop on g7 has a terrible life and is restricted by his own pawns.
  • Principle of the Two Weaknesses

    Fischer-Taimanov Candidates match, Vancouver 1971 Usually when there are plenty of pawns on the board the bishop does not feel comfortable, as they might limit its scope. However, if there is a possibility for play on both flanks it is again the better piece. The most remarkable masterpiece of this thesis was created by Robert James Fischer.

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