Saturday, January 29, 2011

In a chess endgame two bishops are usually stronger than one bishop and one knight.

What the heck is this post doing here?

When I play chess I avoid trading a bishop for a knight. I try to hold on to both bishops so I have better chances of winning in an even endgame. There are exceptions. For example a bishop should be traded for an enemy knight if that knight is well placed deep in my territory and well supported by its pawns with no way of chasing it away with my pawns. But usually two bishops are good to have, especially if the opponent has only one bishop or zero bishops.

In the end game two bishops against one bishop and one knight (or zero bishops and two knights) should win but the technique takes some practice. The knights are dangerous so there's a great need to be careful. It's best to use pawns to restrict the mobility of the enemy knights. The bishops are long range pieces so they are especially effective if there are still pawns on both sides of the board.

This is my favorite endgame. It's a great way to finish a well fought game that's been even until near the end.


UPDATE: 6/4/2014 a conversation about two bishops in endgame:

I wrote this comment at

What's your favourite chess piece?

The two bishops. In an even endgame two bishops against one bishop and one knight should win, especially if there are pawns on both sides of the board.
The idea is to improve the mobility of the two bishops (exchanging pawns if necessary to make room) while restricting the mobility of the enemy knight with pawn moves. And watch out for knight forks. Centralize the king. Because bishops are long range pieces they should be able to pick off some pawns.
I wrote this comment at

latinokooljb wrote:
Bishop & Knight exchanges are common in early session of a chess game. Who will gain? The one who loses Knight or the one who loses the Bishop?! Any thoughts?
My first thought when my opponent trades a bishop for my knight is "I have a won game".
All I got to do is try to get an endgame with pawns on both sides of the board then my bishop pair which are long range pieces can help themselves to my opponents pawns. I can keep the weaker knights under control with pawn moves to restrict their mobility. The knights can't easily defend both sides of the board so unless I screw up I should win.

I might use this to play chess: FIDE Online Arena

ALEX 3/7/2015 I won on time in 74 moves. Interesting endgame with bishops.

ALEX 3/14/2015 interesting attack I had on king side, combined with a smaller attack on the queen side, mate in 46 moves.

This is one of my best games. Playing the black side of a King's Indian Defense I defeated a very strong chess player (from Dublin Ireland) after sacrificing a knight for two pawns. The game is at

In this game at I sacrificed a bishop to queen a pawn in the endgame.

Another interesting game I won at

This game was a 10 minute game. I lost on time when my opponent had only one second left. It was an interesting endgame and when my time ran out I had an easy win.

This was not a great game because my opponent blundered away a rook and then later lost another rook. The end was a bit interesting because I had the opportunity to sacrifice two pieces to checkmate my opponent's king.

In this game I had a bishop pair in the endgame which won against a bishop and knight.

This game was a draw. I had the black pieces. When the game ended my opponent from Mexico City had 2 seconds left and I had 11 seconds left in a 10 minute game. It was a complicated game, a Sicilian Defense, Najdorf Variation.

This game was an easy win. I was never in any danger. I had the black pieces. What was unusual was my opponent from Lyons France had the nerve to criticize my opening (too passive) as if I should only make moves my opponent wants me to make. I blocked the stupid asshole. Here it is:

In this game against a strong player I had the black pieces in Najdorf. I won in the endgame.

This game was like a knife fight. When my opponent resigned I had an advantage and he had only 11 seconds left.

In this game my opponent had a higher rating than me. He lives in Wales, UK. The queens were exchanged early. The end game was interesting. For some strange reason my opponent got disconnected just before I was going to checkmate him.

This chess game had an interesting ending. My opponent resigned after I sacrificed a pawn:

November 18, 2013 one of the best chess games I ever played. In the endgame there was a race to see whose pawn would queen first. I won the race. The game also had an interesting middle game because my opponent was attacking my king.

November 25, 2013 this was a wild game. My opponent resigned when I had mate in 2 moves. I had the White pieces.

November 25, 2013 An interesting game against somebody from Karaj city, Iran. My opponent ran out of time (10 minute game) when I had only 16 seconds left. I had the White pieces.

November 25, 2013 In this game it looked like I had to force a draw but I found an interesting combination of moves that made a win possible. I had the Black pieces.

November 27, 2013 I won against a person from Tartu, Estonia who is rated higher than me. I had the Black pieces. My opponent ran out of time (10 minute game) when I was winning the endgame. I won despite two blunders. My opponent somehow didn't notice both of my mistakes and so he didn't take the pieces I left for him to take. It was an interesting game.

December 5, 2013 I was planning to just watch a game at but I somehow started a game by accident. I quickly got into trouble but somehow I survived my opponent's attack and then had my own attack which worked. A sloppy but interesting game I didn't want to play:

December 8, 2013 I won this interesting game despite some mistakes I made. My opponent missed a good move which I saw while waiting for him to move. If he moved 20. Nxe6 fxe6 21. Bb6 I would have lost my queen.

December 15, 2013 I lost this 10 minute game against a master (USCF rating 2300). When my clock ran out my opponent from Toronto had one minute and 15 seconds left. My next move was going to be  Rb6. I'm not sure who is winning but I had a very small material advantage. Considering he is master I probably would have lost even without the time trouble I was in. Very interesting game.

December 23, 2013 This game was a bit interesting for me because it had my favorite ending, my two bishops against my opponent's bishop and knight. As usual the two bishops won.

December 30, 2013 Lots of knight moves in this game. I was aggressive about moving a passed pawn and won with it. Not a great game but I thought it was a bit interesting.

January 13, 2014 It's not every day I can defeat an opponent rated in the 1700's but in this game with the Black pieces I won in 19 moves. Time control was 10/0. I had 7:14 left, my opponent had 4:54 left.

February 2, 2014 After losing my rook for a knight to save my king, there was an interesting forced checkmate in the middle game. I won.

February 2, 2014 In this game my opponent made a mistake that gave me his rook for my knight. What was interesting was how long it took me to win the game.

February 2, 2014 A very complex middle game. I won. I think my opponent missed a chance to force a draw.

February 2, 2014 I'm saving this game for the ending. I had one pawn and one bishop. My opponent had one bishop. I had 5 seconds left when I checkmated him (10 minute game)

February 9, 2014 after losing five games in a row I finally won while playing the black side of a nardorf, and it was a knife fight. I won on time (10,0) in a won position.

February 16, 2014 an endgame which was not great but it was a bit interesting.

February 16, 2014 What I like about this endgame is I planned it. I made moves in the middle game hoping to get the kind of endgame I wanted.

February 22, 2014 My two bishops defeated my opponent's bishop and knight. I like the way I won this endgame.

February 25, 2014 I had the black side of a Sicilian Nardorf. I won with a mate threat in a strange middle game.

March 2, 2014 I had the black side of a Sicilian Nardorf. My opponent threw everything at my king, trying to kill me, but my defense was good enough to survive it and then win.

March 3, 2014 As black I played the King's Indian Defense. It was a knife fight. My opponent's last move was a mistake. I think he could have got a draw. My opponent was 80 years old and lives in Russia.

March 3, 2014 I defeated a 32 year old guy from Bangalore, India. There was an interesting Queen and pawns endgame.

March 8, 2014 After solving many problems with getting my pieces developed I made it to a king and pawns endgame which I won.

April 6, 2014 I had the Black pieces, King's Indian Defense. I trapped his queen in the middle of the board. The game was annoying because I had just spent a few weeks at another chess website which had a much larger board and for me worked much better.


August 28, 2014 Strong opponent from Massa Italy. An interesting and difficult endgame which I won: 

August 29, 2014 extremely complex game against strong player. I made a desperate sacrifice to queen a pawn and save the game. In the end it was checkmate or be checkmated. In terrible time trouble  I missed the two moves I needed to checkmate, his king got away, and I would have been checkmated next move except my clock ran out of time. The desperate sacrifice turned  out to be brilliant but time trouble killed me.

September 21, 2014 Finishing off my opponent was sloppy but this was an interesting game.

October 15, 2014 A 77 move knife fight. I had a won game with 7 seconds left (enough time to win) when my opponent ran out of time in a ten minute game 10/0.

October 16, 2014 I'm saving this game because the young lady from India who I defeated is stunning. She looks like a goddess.

October 16, 2014 In this game I did not castle until the 25th move. My opponent from Armenia castled on his 23rd move. While still in the middle game I moved my queen 5 moves in a row to force a checkmate.

October 19, 2014 My opponent from Dubai, United Arab Emirates had a mate threat against me for a long time. I survived, had a won endgame, and at move 51 I won on time when I had only 6 seconds left (10 minute game as usual).

October 19, 2014 A difficult game for me. I had winning endgame when opponent from Ukraine ran out of time. I had only a few seconds left when game ended on the 68th move.

October 19. 2014 I turned around an attack against my king and wiped out white's army. When the fireworks was over with I realized I wasn't watching my clock and I had only 13 seconds left to checkmate my opponent's king. I finished the job with a rook & bishop & knight with only 4 seconds left. My opponent from Macedonia had 3 minutes and 28 seconds left.

October 22, 2014 With only 11 seconds left, enough time to win, but not enough time to notice queening a pawn would be a stalemate, so the game was a draw. B-Q4 instead of queening the pawn would have won easily. An interesting exciting game.

October 26, 2014 My opponent is from Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina. The game had an interesting middle game and interesting endgame. Martín Taboada resigned when he had to lose a rook to kill a pawn.

February 9, 2015 In an endgame between 2 black bishops I made sure I had all my pawns on white squares. I won as the black side of a Najdorf:

February 10, 2015 I defeated a Russian. I had the white pieces in my usual King's Indian Attack. My opponent made a dumb move in the opening losing his queen pawn, but still the game was a bit interesting.



April 19, 2015 LICHESS I DEFEATED AN 1960 PLAYER. I had the black side of a sicilian najdorf


May 20, 2015 LICHESS I defeated an opponent from Iran. Interesting endgame.

May 21, 2015 LICHESS I was down a piece but despite all odds with a king attack I was able to win.

May 21, 2015 LICHESS I defeated a strong player (rating 2014) in the endgame. One of my best games ever.

April 11, 2015 ALEX at at work I won an interesting game.

October 2, 2014 Down a queen but up two knights I got lucky in a hopeless game. A very unusual end to an unusual game.

January 18, 2015 I had black in a very exciting King's Indian knife fight.

June 23, 2015 LICHESS I get the two bishops against one knight/one bishop and I win with it. One of my best endgames ever.


I highly recommend this blog: Celebrate Chess


One of my favorite openings: King's Indian Defense

How to play against the Bayonet Attack.

YouTube videos about King's Indian Defense

YouTube video: Opening systems: Bayonet attack against the Kings Indian defense PART ONE

YouTube video: Opening systems: Bayonet attack against the Kings Indian defense PART TWO Kings Indian Defence, White plays early Bg5

google search: youtube kings indian defense bg5

Why the london system against the king's indian is rubbish

good advice from Veresov vs King's Indian?

good advice for black in the smith-morra opening:

jontsef wrote:
pfren have you heard anything about the new Morra book by Quality Chess?
No, and  don't bother, either. For me declining with 3...Nf6 is more than enough: Black is 101% solid, and also retains fair winning chances. Why getting involved in run & gun chess for the sake of being politically correct and accepting the gambit should be the indicated method of play? If Black accepts the gambit, then the most challenging line is the so-called Taylor's defence (...Nc6, ...d6, ....a6) but I'm not convinced white's play against it is unsound.

The answer to Smith-Morra is to decline and play Nf6. The knight will be kicked but is fine on d5 (which is a hole in white's position). I know that game explorer data is not proof to anything but the record for Nf6 is ridiculously good.

From Modern Chess Openings MCO-14 page 349: Black can decline the gambit and reach a reasonable position. See page 349 (p) for the rest of it.

1. P-K4  P-QB4
2. P-Q4 PxP
3. P-QB3 N-KB3
4. P-K5 N-Q4
1. e4  c5
2. d4  cxd4
3. c3 Nf6
4. e5 Nd5

pfren is rated higher than myself. I need to study his games at

From pfren:  A wonderful composition, with incredibly rich content, given the very limited material available.

The Road to Chess Mastery

Very interesting endgame in a 80 move 2012 game between Nakamura and Krammik at and at Nakamura won.

I used to this to play chess on the internet: 

Now I prefer

A famous scientist talks about the rules of chess in this video: Feynman :: Rules of Chess

At a website about Go (a game popular in Japan) there is a quote about chess: If Go is like war, Chess is a knife fight in a phone booth.Please see to read my other posts about chess.


WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH Official Site of the FIDE World Chess Championship Match MOSCOW, STATE TRETYAKOV GALLERY, MAY 10 — MAY 31, 2012

The Morals of Chess by Benjamin Franklin


News about chess, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times.

10 interesting facts about chess


On 6/25/2012 I played a very exciting chess game. After missing an easy way to win, then after my opponent missed an easy way to win, I was under terrible time pressure but managed to checkmate my opponent with only 0.2 seconds left, also known as 1/5 of a second left on my clock. It was a ten minute game. For the next month the game will be available to examine at and it might be available forever if I ever decide to pay extra. Right now I'm just using the free stuff.


At I wrote the following comment about draws:

Threefold repetitions are automatic draws only if one player claims it. If neither player wants a draw it's not a draw. If one player wants a draw he gets it whether or not his opponent agrees.

Repeating the same position three times is, in my opinion, usually the only proper way to get a draw. Asking for a draw is an annoying and rude interruption for the opponent who is trying to think. Asking for a draw a 2nd time even though the answer will most certainly be "no" is a rudeness that deserves something that would be inappropriate to write about here.
Also, avoiding a three move repetition even though the 50 move rule is inevitable is a rude way to waste the opponent's time.
Being rude is legal in both chess and real life, but these people are only ruining their reputation.


I wrote this comment at

Do you hate or love your opponents?

Those words are a bit too extreme. How about "dislike or like".
After a hard fought and beautiful game, I feel like my opponent is my best friend whether or not I won, because it takes two people to create these exciting battles.
From the book "Bronstein on the King's Indian":
"Winning or losing is not the main idea of chess at all. A chess game is in fact a friendly exchange of intentions, hidden in individual moves. You always have the choice either of putting into action your planned move, or of first calmly preventing the intended move of the friend with whom you are playing chess in this brief, finite moment of your life."


I wrote this comment at about Bobby Fischer:

Why do Americans like Bobby Fischer?


SerbianChessStar wrote:
I mean, he hated Americans, even though he was American.
What are Americans thoughts on this?
He didn't hate Americans. He just had a problem with the American government which wanted to throw him in jail for not paying taxes.
I will always be a big fan of Fischer because he was the best chess player in history. Who else could beat candidates for the world championship 6 out of 6 games. It was unheard of before Fischer and I don't see anyone doing that now. Fischer would never agree to a "grandmaster draw". He was not a quitter. He always played to win with both the white and black pieces, whether or not he needed to win. Fischer was a "real" chess player.
There's something about his style that makes his games so interesting. Chess players will be studying his games 1,000 years from now.
He won the world championship at a time when it was thought impossible for anyone to defeat the Soviet Union. And he did it completely on his own.
Fischer more than anyone else before or since made chess popular in America. During his match with Boris Spassky every American was paying attention.
Fischer more than anyone else before and since made playing professional chess lucrative. Before Fischer one million dollars or more for the world championship was unheard of. Now it's normal all thanks to FIscher.
Of course he had some mental problems but who cares? Is that more important than his chess games? No, of course not. A thousand years from now the people studying his brilliant games will not be interested in his strange political views and the other strange stuff. They will just be amazed at his games, and how he makes winning seem inevitable.
Only nitpickers care about Fischer's mental illness. Those nitpickers are boring, and Fischer could have beaten everyone of them with his eyes closed.


Winning Move: Chess Reigns as Kingly Pursuit in Armenia

No One Is Bored With Board Game in Nation That Adores Grandmasters

Justin Vela
Students last month at the Patriarch Vasgen elementary school learnedto play chess, which is compulsory in Armenian schools.

YEREVAN, Armenia—Reporters stake out Tigran Petrosian's home. Fans seek his autograph. His image is splashed across magazine covers, and his youthful face beams from posters on teenagers' walls.

The sturdy 28-year-old isn't a star athlete or a movie star. He is a chess grandmaster. In this chess-crazy country, that makes him a king among pawns.

"Chess here is like soccer in Brazil or football in America," Mr. Petrosian said over coffee at the Yerevan Chess Academy ahead of a concert to honor the country's top players. The concert featured musicians and singers performing in front of 10-foot-high chess boards while the audience clapped rapturously.

Mr. Petrosian—whose father named him Tigran after a former chess champion with the same surname—is one of a legion of top chess players that have catapulted this poor nation of three million into world beaters on the 64-square board. In September, he was part of the five-man squad that claimed Armenia's second consecutive gold medal at the World Chess Olympiad.

Being good in chess carries big benefits in Armenia. Top players say they struggle to be allowed to pay for gasoline or parking. Restaurant bills sometimes never materialize when they go out to eat.

"Some girls giggle when they see us on the streets and some even give me presents," says 30-year-old Levon Aronian, Armenia's No. 1 player and the second-ranked player in the world. "Most of us are just regular nerds, so it's quite a lot to get used to. I've changed the way I dress for photo shoots but that's all."

Armenia's veneration of its chess players recalls a bygone era when the game produced a series of global household names.

In a Cold War grudge match that captivated audiences world-wide, American Bobby Fischer in 1972 broke Soviet dominance by beating champion Boris Spassky. Chess is still popular across much of the former Soviet Union, a legacy of Moscow's patronage of a game it said demonstrated its intellectual superiority over the West.

But whereas chess players are on their own in many Soviet spinoffs, they still have full state support in Armenia. The country's president, Serzh Sargsyan, also is the president of the Armenian Chess Federation.

In September 2011, his government passed legislation that made chess compulsory in schools. Promising players get free training at elite chess academies. The state pays for children to play in foreign championships and pays a salary to all grandmasters.
Tigran Petrosian

Mr. Sargsyan hailed a "golden age" for Armenian chess in a speech earlier this year. "It continues to inspire our society with belief in its own strength and self-confidence," he said.

Armenia's love affair with the game is less than half a century old. The country caught the chess bug on May 20, 1963, when 33-year-old Tigran Petrosian, no relation to the current player, dethroned reigning world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, a Soviet, over a grinding 24-game match.

Nicknamed "Iron Tigran" because of his impenetrable defense, Mr. Petrosian's victory made him a national hero. Thousands of families named their children Tigran in his honor.

"In the U.S., everyone can remember where they were when President Kennedy was killed. In Armenia, everyone can remember where they were when Petrosian won that championship," said Aram Hajian, board member of the Chess Academy of Armenia.

Nowadays, chess fever starts young in the country.

At the Patriarch Vasgen elementary school in Yerevan's northern suburbs, aspiring grandmasters daily squeeze into the chess room: a makeshift shrine adorned with the sober faces of former champions and half a dozen huge magnetic boards showcasing the game's most celebrated offensive and defensive plays.

All boards, pieces and textbooks are provided by the government. The children switch between theory and practice and sit through a written test every two months. The teacher, Marina Kamalyan, a frizzy-haired chess evangelist who plays online late most nights, insists on total dedication from the pupils.

"Chess is a real passion that is a metaphor for life. Education is a very important part of our mentality in Armenia, and I want to pass on this passion to the children," Mrs. Kamalyan said as she moved white pieces into an unassailable position on one of the class's wall-mounted magnetic boards.

Many of these children are already veterans, but they are determined to join Armenia's top players as world beaters.

"I want to be world champion. Grandmaster is not good enough," says 9-year-old Yervan Davtyan, after thrashing a reporter in a game lasting less than 15 minutes.

"I taught my mother how to play better, but I didn't show her all the secrets because I want to be the best," adds 8-year-old Julia Hakobyan.

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