An unexamined life is not worth living.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Opposite Coloured Bishops – part 16 - Conclusion

This is the last post on the subject of endgames with bishops of opposite colours – all examples are from my article on the same subject published in Canadian chess magazine “En Passant” almost 10 years ago.

There is an attitude to endings with opposite coloured bishops that 'they are all drawn'. There is certainly a good reason for this. And yet almost all examples that I showed had a decisive result. Partly this is because in most of them one side had a material advantage. But some endings shown had even material in the starting position. Therefore, in a position with rooks on the board, it is often possible to outplay your opponent. If you are playing for a win, there might also exist a psychological effect that would help you: when seeing opposite coloured bishops, even strong players may relax and expect that even with second rate moves they will get their draw. Not necessarily!

I also hope that the readers’ thinking about types of endings will expand from "pawn endings" and "rook endings" to more complex combinations of material, such as “rooks + bishops of opposite colour”, “rooks + knights”. These are what Dvoretsky calls “simple positions” – not quite endgames, but nor middlegames either.  Studying ideas typical for each type of these simple positions will lead to a better understanding of chess.

To wrap up the series, here is the analysis/solution for the puzzle from the last post.

Topalov Veselin - Shirov Alexei, Linares (10), 1998
opposite_bishop_143 Black to move

47...Bh3 !! An amazing move, which initially does not seem to make any sense. The point is that Black's king needs to support the 'd' and 'a' pawns as soon as possible. The bishop on e4 was on his way. By going to h3, Black attacks the 'g2' pawn, so he wins a tempo. The reason why he is not afraid to lose the bishop, is because this bishop would not help him to advance the queenside pawns anyways. 48.gxh3 Kf5 49.Kf2 Ke4 50.Bxf6 d4 Diagram


51.Be7 Kd3 52.Bc5 Kc4 53.Be7 Kb3 Diagram


The Black king comes to c2. 0-1

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