Saturday, October 15, 2011

Endings with Bishops of the Same Color

FM Steve Stoyko gave a wonderful lecture on Bishop Endings at the Kenilworth Chess Club on Thursday, September 22nd, which I have finally written up based on my notes (with additional analysis).  His focus was bishops of the same color, where the superior side often has winning chances.  Though Steve would have liked to have given dozens of other examples, I think the ones he focused on went very far in laying out the principles. I have chosen to focus on only about half of the examples Steve presented, organizing them according to several critical themes: exploiting the short diagonal, needing "two weaknesses" to win, using the more active king, fixing targets on both sides of the board, deflection, and zugzwang.  For those who want even more examples, I have compiled a bibliography of sources, including multiple videos.

Though Steve discussed several pure B v B+P endings, I have chosen to focus only on the classic position analyzed by Nimzovich since all of these endings have been well covered in several YouTube videos (see above).  Pure B v B+P endings are fascinating, but they are nowhere near as stunning as the themes Steve covered in Bishop endings with multiple pawns where one side has a positional advantage.  Here the theme of "two weaknesses" (typically two pawns on the same color as the Bishops, which can become targets) is very much worth remembering as it occurs frequently in practical play.  In all of the positions, an untrained player could easily agree to a draw without recognizing the winning advantage that one side holds.  Meanwhile, a player who knows how to fix his opponent's pawns on the right color square can steer the game toward a winning Bishop ending.

I look forward to Steve's next lecture, when he promises to do something on Rook endings.

Same-Colored Bishop Endings Webliography

Mark Dvoretsky, The Process of Elimination, Part Two (ChessCafe, September 2011)
Dvoretsky's article begins with discussion of a wonderful Bishop ending composition that is practically a tour de force of every Bishop ending theme.

Karsten Müller, The Overgrown Pawn (ChessBase, October 2011)
Examines a position where the defender's Bishop is trapped behind its pawns on the same color.

_______.  The Eternal Hunt (Chess Cafe, June 2011)
Uses several practical examples to illustrate the problem-like theme of the "Bishop hunt," where a Bishop trying to stop a pawn along a short diagonal can be "hunted" by the King to force a draw.

_______.  Capablanca's Concept (Chess Cafe, October 2010)
Discusses Capablanca's principle that you should try to keep your pawns on the opposite color of your Bishop, especially in Bishop endings of the same color.

_______.  Small Advantages in Bishop Endings (Chess Cafe, October 2009)

_______.  Same-colored Bishops (Chess Cafe, May 2009)

_______.  Bishops and Overgrown Pawns (Chess Cafe, September 2004)

_______.  Bishops at Work, Part Three (Chess Cafe, September 2002)

_______.  Bishops at Work, Part Two (Chess Cafe, August 2002)

_______.  Bishops at Work, Part One (Chess Cafe, July 2002)
Sets forth some useful principles of Bishop endings, which the series goes on to illustrate.

_______.  Ponomariov's Tecnnique, Part One (Chess Cafe, March 2002)
Examines an interesting Bishop ending where Ponomariov used his king position to achieve a draw.

_______.  Brains in Bahrain Game 3 and Brains in Bahrain Game 1 (ChessBase 2002)
Two Bishop endings from the Deep Fritz - Kramnik match.

George Orlov.  Bishop Endings II (Jeremy Silman website)
A very useful overview of Bishop ending themes and principles.

_______.  Bishop Endings I (Jeremy Silman website)

Brooklyn 64.  Bishops of same color endings: Bishop v Bishop+pawn.
A useful quick overview of Bishop ending themes.

Armis.  Bishop Endings video (
A useful overview of Bishop of the same color themes.  This video could not be embedded.

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