Bishop Chess Piece


Jump to a section about the Bishop Chess Piece:
Moves | Capturing | Weaknesses

Pairs & Single Bishops:
The Bishop Pair | Opposite-colored Bishops

The Good, The Bad, And The Active Bishop:
Good Bishop | Bad Bishop | Active Bishop

Bishop Chess Piece

The Bishop Chess Piece ... Each game begins with four Bishops on the board - 2 White; 2 Black.

They have a relative value score of 3, so are one of your higher-value pieces on the board.

The relative weighting sees the Bishops ranked above the Pawns (1); having the same value as the Knights (3); but lower in rank than the Rooks (5), Queen (9) and King (invaluable - more about this in the King Chess Piece article).


Bishop Chess Piece
- Moves -

Take a look at the image below (screenshot from Chess Titans game), which shows the White Bishop Chess Piece - on the gold highlighted square - about to move:

Bishop Chess Piece Scenario

The Bishop can ONLY move along the diagonal squares and ONLY ONE WAY per turn.

However, it can move as any square directly - and legally - in its line of sight ... What that means is, if you take another look at the image, you'll see highlighted squares in red and blue, respectively ...

The legal moves, in this scenario, that are in line of sight for the turn of this Bishop, are:

  • To any ONE of the blue-highlighted squares;

  • To any ONE of the red-highlighted squares.

Moving to any of these blue-highlighted squares would just result in a positional move, but no enemy pieces would be captured.


Jump to:
Moves | Capturing | Weaknesses

Pairs & Single Bishops:
The Bishop Pair | Opposite-colored Bishops

The Good, The Bad, And The Active Bishop:
Good Bishop | Bad Bishop | Active Bishop

Bishop Chess Piece
- Capturing -

However, moving to any of the red-highlighted squares would result in you capturing ONE of either your opponent's Pawn, Bishop, or Rook ...

As you can see, you've got a choice to make ...
What Tactics would you use here? ...
Move and capture, or just move to another position?

Take a close look and you'll see White is in a very strong position ...

Bishop Chess Piece Scenario - White Queen Threat

As soon as you move your (gold highlighted) Bishop chess piece, Black's King will be immediately threatened by your Queen - in other words, you'll have "checked Black's King" ... This particular Check is what's known as a "Discovered Check".

If White decides to move the Bishop, Black MUST get out of check.

Here's what White can do with his (gold-highlighted) Bishop:

Bishop Chess Piece Scenario
  1. Capture the (red-square) Bishop ... you'll capture a 3-value piece and, at the same time, put Black's King in check from your Queen.

  2. Capture the (red-square) Rook ... you'll capture a 5-value piece, and again Black's King will automatically be checked by your Queen.

  3. Capture the (red-square) Pawn ... you'll capture a minor, 1-value piece, so less desirable than the Rook or Bishop ... but you'll still put Black's King in check from your Queen.

In ALL of those tactical options, at first glance it could appear your Bishop Chess Piece will be in direct, straight-line threat from Black's Queen ...

But, Black wouldn't be able to use the Queen to capture your Bishop, as it'd still be in check from your Queen ... On your next go, you'd be able to get your Bishop out of danger .


Jump to:
Moves | Capturing | Weaknesses

Pairs & Single Bishops:
The Bishop Pair | Opposite-colored Bishops

The Good, The Bad, And The Active Bishop:
Good Bishop | Bad Bishop | Active Bishop

Bishop Chess Piece
- Weaknesses -

The main weakness of the Bishop chess piece is that it cannot capture in straight lines (forward/back, left/right) and, as a result, it can be safely targetted, at distance from those directions, by your opponent's Queen and Rook(s).

To a lesser extent, but still threateningly possible, even the enemy's King can sit directly next to a Bishop - in front; behind; to the left; or to the right - and be in position to safely capture your Bishop.

Another weakness of the Bishop is that it can only operate on a single color of squares. You get two Bishops, at the start of a game - one works the light squares; the other the dark squares ...

Together, they can be a formidable weapon. But, take one away and all your opponent needs to do, to be safe from a solitary Bishop, is to keep on the Opposite-colored squares.


Jump to:
Moves | Capturing | Weaknesses

Pairs & Single Bishops:
The Bishop Pair | Opposite-colored Bishops

The Good, The Bad, And The Active Bishop:
Good Bishop | Bad Bishop | Active Bishop

Bishop Chess Piece
- The Bishop Pair -

So, as mentioned already, at the start of a game, each player gets two Bishops to take into battle.

They're known as the "Bishop Pair" because, in order to be effective, as they each patrol a single color of squares only, they must work together - in paired alliance.

The term "Bishop Pair" is also used when describing a battle between one side that has two Bishops and the other side, who has two Knights ...

That is, one player has lost his two Knights and is down functioning with the two Bishops - and vice-versa.

You don't really hear the term "Knight Pair" because a single Knight is able to bound onto any colored square, providing it does so within its legal range of movements ...

A Knight will start on one color and end its L-shape move on a square of the opposite color.

<<< Back to the Chess Glossary (Bishop Pair)


Jump to:
Moves | Capturing | Weaknesses

Pairs & Single Bishops:
The Bishop Pair | Opposite-colored Bishops

The Good, The Bad, And The Active Bishop:
Good Bishop | Bad Bishop | Active Bishop

Bishop Chess Piece
- Opposite-colored Bishops -

In the following clip, you'll see the Board deliberatlely reduced, so that each side only has a Bishop, as a piece of any real significance.

Of greater note is the fact that both enemy Bishops are patrolling the squares of the Opposite-color - hence the term "Opposite-color Bishops" ...

Ignoring the daft suicides of the Rook and two Knights, you can see the frustration of having just a single Bishop and trying to do battle against an enemy with an Opposite-color Bishop ...

As they have trouble capturing one another, it's easy to imagine how difficult it can be to "Checkmate" your opponent, as all his King has to do is move on the opposite-color squares.

<<< Back to the Chess Glossary (Opposite-colored Bishops)


Jump to:
Moves | Capturing | Weaknesses

Pairs & Single Bishops:
The Bishop Pair | Opposite-colored Bishops

The Good, The Bad, And The Active Bishop:
Good Bishop | Bad Bishop | Active Bishop

Bishop Chess Piece
- Good Bishop -

In Chess, it's not enough to have Bishops on the Board and that's that ... You can have Good Bishops and Bad Bishops. The two terms relate to how freely a Bishop can move along its diagonal pathways.

We'll look at the Good Bishop situation, here; then move onto the Bad Bishop situation, in the section immediately below.

A Bishop is said to be a "Good Bishop" when it has central Pawns that aren't on the same color squares, thus giving that Bishop greater freedom to work against the enemy positions.

In the video clip, at the end of the manouevres, you can see White's Bishop has a clear pathway through the Center of the Board.

As for Black, while his overall positioning is inferior to White's, his Bishop is, at least, not obstructed on the light squares, by any pieces of his own side - thus, it is also a "Good Bishop".

<<< Back to the Chess Glossary (Good Bishop)


Jump to:
Moves | Capturing | Weaknesses

Pairs & Single Bishops:
The Bishop Pair | Opposite-colored Bishops

The Good, The Bad, And The Active Bishop:
Good Bishop | Bad Bishop | Active Bishop

Bishop Chess Piece
- Bad Bishop -

A Bishop is said to be a "Bad Bishop" when its central Pawns are on its same-color squares, thus blocking the Bishop's progress across the Board.

The Bishop is an excellent, long-range piece - useful for both attacking and defensive duties ... If you've got material blocking the path of a Bishop - the culprits are usually stuck Pawns - then that Bishop becomes less effective ... And that's why it becomes a "Bad Bishop".

In the video clip, White's attempts to block the advancement of Black's Pawns lacks total consideration for his own dark-square Bishop ...

Before long, Black, aided by White's obvious ignorance for the needs of his Bishop, is able to protect all diagonal routes on the dark squares.

White's only option now will be to lose a piece or two by way of deliberately sacrificing them, such as by advancing his c-file Pawn to c4.

It's now White's only chance to open up channels for his "Bad Bishop".

<<< Back to the Chess Glossary (Bad Bishop)


Jump to:
Moves | Capturing | Weaknesses

Pairs & Single Bishops:
The Bishop Pair | Opposite-colored Bishops

The Good, The Bad, And The Active Bishop:
Good Bishop | Bad Bishop | Active Bishop

Bishop Chess Piece
- Active Bishop -

An "Active Bishop", simply put, is one that's in a progressively active role.

If you've been reading down this page, you'll already know a Bishop can be either "Good" or "Bad" ...

In most cases, you want to avoid having a "Bad Bishop", as they can severely restrict ability to cause ideal trouble for your opponent's pieces.

However, there are situations when a Bishop in a "Good" position is less effective than an "Active Bishop" in a "Bad" position ...

As you saw in the video clip, Black's Bishop didn't have Pawns blocking the center squares, on its same light-squares ...

  • Black, therefore, had a technically "Good Bishop".

In contrast, White's Bishop had to navigate around the Queenside flanks in order to get to the d5 square, in the Small Center ...

  • White, therefore, had a technically "Bad Bishop".

White's solution, to his "Bad Bishop", was to work it into a forward position, supported by his Pawn Structure ...

Once White's Bishop was in Black's half of the Board AND beyond any attacking obstruction by his Pawns, White's "Active Bishop" was able to play a decisive role in Black's demise.

<<< Back to the Chess Glossary (Active Bishop)


Jump to a section about the Bishop Chess Piece:
Moves | Capturing | Weaknesses

Pairs & Single Bishops:
The Bishop Pair | Opposite-colored Bishops

The Good, The Bad, And The Active Bishop:
Good Bishop | Bad Bishop | Active Bishop


Return to the Beginners Chess Guide:
Individual Chess Pieces page; About The Bishop Chess Piece
<<< Back to the Chess Glossary
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