Do YOU know how to win with 2 Bishops vs a lone king? How about a Bishop & a Knight?

Do YOU know how to win with 2 Bishops vs a lone king? How about a Bishop & a Knight?

  • Piece of cake!! I'm insulted you would even ask!
  • 2 Bishops, yes - not sure about B+N...
  • Not sure about either... I'd have to experiment.
  • No clue! Draw, I guess.

Created on December 12, 2011 | 8085 Votes | 58 Comments


  • 5 years ago


    Forgot where I had read this but supposedly, a GM went into a B/N vs. K "basic" mate and couldn't do it.  It was rather humiliating for him because it is said that most other GMs could do this mate blindfolded.  

  • 5 years ago


    I can do B+B but not B+N

  • 5 years ago


    Fundamental Chess Endings contains an amusing statistic: in the 1.7 million-game ChessBase Mega 2001 database, of the 283 games that resulted in B+N vs. lone king, 62 of them ended in draws. Doh!

  • 5 years ago


    B+B easy, B+N tricky . Challenge is with time pressure( Under a minute no icrement)

  • 5 years ago


    A B+K mate is an exquisite form of hunting but the wrong move and it's a draw.

  • 5 years ago


    Easier said [or answered] than done! (at least amongst beginners along with perhaps some 'intermediate-level' players) - and assuming of course, that both bishops are on opposite-coloured squares (otherwise, an extremely rare-occurring draw [usually by stalemate or mutual agreement] will inevitably result [i.e. should both bishops be of matching coloured squares]).

    I would like to think that these types of mating examples are 'elementary' [in theory], but contrary to the opinion of most masters, the rarity of such occurrences that often unfold within tournament-type events are more likely to produce draws rather than wins, despite the theory associated under the constraints of psychological/time pressure involvement.

    Nonetheless [given sufficient clock time], the endgame mating scenario: K + [K-]B + [Q-]B vs K should not pose much more difficulty (for an 'A-class' player [1800+ elo]; at most, mate in 19) than the example: K + R vs K (at most, mate in 16).  On the other hand: K + B + N vs K is a much more difficult mating scenario (even for some 'master-level' players; at most, mate in 33) that only all too often produces unwanted draw results, dependent on [any] tournament-type [time control/directorial, etc.] circumstantial limitations/influences. 

    Coincidentally - just to fulfill the satisfaction for any doubt towards the inquiring mind[!] - the endgame: K + N + N vs K should inevitably lead to a draw result [through either of several means, including via time control] with best play, and although mate is in fact 'theoretically' [albeit, remotely] possible (say[?], unless your opponent foolishly blunders), it is by no means scientifically enforceable.

    And lastly - for those curiosity seekers - perhaps the most demanding of all 'mating[?]' examples [for either side, for that matter - in the attempt] to prove: K + N + N vs K + P is again, remotely possible [often, but not solely limited to the dependency] upon the relative establishment of what is known as the 'Troitzky line' - a theme based upon the positional advancement of the opposing enemy pawn which consequently, must not only be [temporarily] blockaded by a knight, but which must not as well be captured (otherwise [concurs], the endgame e.g. above: K + N + N vs K [should] = draw result).  The brilliant 'idea[?]' (laid out by the late [GM?] Alexei Troitzky [1866-1942]) - to eventually 'squeeze' (a type of one-sided zugzwang) one's opponent [via a prepared pseudo- or anti-'stalemating' recourse] through forcibly freeing the advance of the blockaded pawn [at the precise moment; i.e. to deliver mate with the blockading knight] - is virtually chaotic chess 'purity' in one of the game's most finest hours.  Theory aside, but more often than not, the game usually concludes with an agreed draw.  Certainly not for the average 'club-level' player, nor even for most grandmasters.

    Finally, to actually attempt to answer this query - although I myself (and certainly no 'master') in my many thousands of games have never once [except for an approachable few 'close encounters'] experienced the opportunity to deliver the above 'elementary' mating examples [in both 'OTB'- and 'online'-type games], but did have their [very few occasional] occurrences delivered towards me [with mixed results] - given a sufficient allotment of time, I'd be reluctant not to fear the 'element of truth', at least with the scenario: K + B + N vs K, even though I already know the general gist [for both] of the above mating sequence[s] (first objective [in either case]: forcing the lone enemy king to a [matching coloured] corner square [if with B + N, respective to the colour of the opposing bishop), despite all the known [and proven] theory behind it.  So it is perhaps for 'that' (the relative rarity of its occurrence, not only in a chess player's career, but of the practicality of proving the win in actual tournament-level [consequential] play) sole reason only, 'why' I've not only never thoroughly studied it, but would rather simply (perhaps remain somewhat fearful[?] for it) just keep 'it' under 'check'.

    And that's the way 'I' see it! ...

  • 5 years ago


    KARAFLOF, please explain how you could "mate your opponent when you both have a bishop and the king... but the opponnent's king must be at the corner(draw when you play with someone with IQ over 5)"

  • 5 years ago


    Yeh in a time controlled game BK is not so easy. Take some thinking..

  • 5 years ago


    BB mate under 1 minute thinking time, BK would take some thinking. With over 2 minutes left for the oponent and a "normal" looking start position I would resign.

  • 5 years ago


    I say a big Amen to Hnisby's comment. Spend your time with P+K vs K knowing when you have a draw vs a win; then add pawns to this position.  And the R endings, against all type of material patterns, should keep most of us challenged for the duration of time.

  • 5 years ago

    IM Kacparov

    that's easy stuff

  • 5 years ago


    I picked up the #1 hehehe B+K it is a draw 4 sure, anybody that has played live here would know it.

  • 5 years ago


    Here is Youtube video of B+K CM

  • 5 years ago


    I've been playing chess for over 4 years. I don't think I've ever had to actually perform either of these mates before. O_o.

    So, yeah... I'm pretty rusty with 'em. But now I am going to relearn them!

  • 5 years ago


    I had B+N 3 times in 314 games. I drew all 3.

  • 5 years ago


    Bishop + Bishop easy, Bishop + Knight not worth it.

  • 5 years ago


  • 5 years ago


    I never found B+B to be too hard.  The one time I had to do B+N I succeeded, but I fear a wouldn't have against a stronger opponent.

  • 5 years ago


    Bishop and Knight was Capablanca's favourite ending.

  • 5 years ago


    In practice, BN mate occurs very rarely.  Spend your time for typical P endings and R endings and QvsR and ....(continues infinitely). 

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