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LCB, Issue #011 -- Saving the Day with the Ultra Defensive Bishop
April 01, 2012

Ultra Defensive Bishops

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #011 -- Saving the Day with the Ultra Defensive Bishop

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Last month we concentrated on some fairly complex rook and pawn endgames. We explored the struggle involved when a rook pawn is involved in rook and pawn vs rook endgames. Little tips and tricks for both sides with the rook pawn on the seventh rank, then the sixth. Then we played out positions with central pawns on the fifth rank and then the fourth. Many ifs, ands, buts and maybes that determine whether a position is a win or a draw.

This month we're going to add more depth to our bishop endgame knowledge. The area we will be concentrating on will be in the bishop of opposite colors category. A couple of issues ago we saw how a lone bishop can work with it's king to draw against a king, bishop and two pawns. This is when the two pawns are isolated by files. Now we will see how a bishop should defend against an enemy bishop of the opposite color and two connected pawns.

Saving the Day with the Ultra Defensive Bishop

Stopping Connected Passed Pawns in Opposite Colored Bishops Endgame

Every so often you'll reach an endgame where you're left with a king, bishop and perhaps some pawns and your opponent will have a king, bishop and possibly some pawns. Not all bishop endgames are the same. There are two types of bishop endgames. Same colored bishop endgames and opposite colored bishop endgames.

In same colored bishop and pawn endgames, the side with the more active bishop often prevails. When you reach an opposite colored bishop and pawn endgame, the weaker side has many ideas to hold for a draw. With just a king and bishop, it seems impossible to hold the line and share the spoils against a king, bishop and two connected passed pawns. If this were two rooks, the weaker side's fate would be sealed.

But with opposite colored bishops, the defending king and bishop need to position themselves to form a fortress that the stronger side simply cannot break through. The stronger bishop is not able to influence the outcome at all. It's operating on the wrong color squares and is virtually frozen out of the game. Bishop vs Opp Colored Bishop and Two Connected Passed Pawns.

When the Bishop vs Opposite Colored Bishop and Two Pawns is Lost

Of course there are very deliberate procedures to follow, some fail safe rules of thumb. The first golden rule as defender is always attack your opponent's rear pawn. This prevents the enemy king from making that decisive advance.

Never allow the two pawns to reach the sixth rank side by side. If this happens you are lost. Keep your king in the files directly in front of the advancing pawns with your bishop attacking and harrassing them from the flank. If your bishop is in front of the pawn's rolling advance and your king is ineffectually wandering around on the wings, it's probably not a good thing.

For a good example of how not to defend in this endgame take a look at Lost Bishop vs Opposite Colored Bishop and Two Pawns.

Stopping the Advancing King In Front of the Pawns

The defensive pieces take up their correct positions and they have their tactics ready and waiting. The attacking side needs a new plan as simply rolling forward with the pawns is easily stopped. Instead of throwing his pawns forward the stronger player decides to play his king forward first to take control of the decisive supporting square. He plans to begin his pawn advance when his king is in place.

How do the defenders deal with this plan? If the king reaches his destination, only one pawn will be won for the sacrifice of the defending bishop. The other will promote by force and the game will be over. The answer is for the bishop to attack the pawns so that the king cannot leave them behind. When the rear pawn is forced to advance to escape the attention of the bishop his comrade will no longer enjoy his protection. That duty will fall to the king who now will no longer be in a position to advance and all hopes of victory will quickly fade. To take a better look play through the Stop the Advancing King replayer.

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