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Bishop v Knight
The Triumph of the Bishop

Point Count Chess, NO. 139, p200-201
Stoltz v. Kashdan, 1928

Bishops are often preferred, or are generally regarded as the superior Minor Piece (over Knights), because the positions benefiting the Bishops tend to appear more often than positions that benefit the Knights.

Factors helping the Bishop to Triumph:

  1. The Bishop has long-range operational ability, and can attack from positions of relative safety.

  2. The Bishop has the ability to attack positions on both flanks, from any square it occupies.

  3. Squares can be guarded even when the Bishop is forced to retreat (when attacked).

  4. Pawns that attack the Bishop are immediately counterattacked, as they must enter into its diagonal path of attack.

  5. In the Endgame phase, the Bishop usually triumphs when Pawns are distributed on both flanks of the board. This is when a Bishop's long-range power is superior to the slow-moving Knight.

The weakness of the Bishop:

  1. The Bishop cannot reach squares of both colors. It can only function, or operate, on squares of the same color it starts the game on.

  2. The Bishop can only attack along the diagonals, meaning an enemy piece can sit immediately next to it, and the Bishop is either vulnerable to attack, and/or incapable of taking-out that enemy unit.

  3. The Bishop's mobility can become obstructed by adjacent Pawns and Pieces (especially friendly units).

Beneath the ChessFlash viewer, you'll find my analysis of the position featured in Point Count Chess:
  1. PCC, p.200, No. 139, after 28.axb3
  2. Result of the Triumph of the Bishop.
  3. PGN

The Triumph of the Bishop
My Analysis

Position #1, My Analysis
PCC, p.200, No. 139, after 28.axb3

After: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5 cxd5 9.O-O O-O 10.Bg5 c6 11.Qf3 Be7 12.Rae1 Rb8 13.Ne2 Ne4 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.Nd4 Rxb2 16.Nxc6 Qc5 17.Bxe4 dxe4 18.Qxe4 Ba6 19.Re3 Qxc2 20.Qxc2 Rxc2 21.Nb4 Bxf1 22.Nxc2 Bc4 23.Ra3 Rb8 24.h3 Rb7 25.Rc3 Be6 26.Nd4 Bd7 27.Rb3 Rxb3 28.axb3

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 139 - Page 200
After: 28.axb3

1. When the Bishop v. Knight situation occurs ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 139 - Bishop v. Knight, Triumph of the Bishop, After 6.Nxc6 bxc6
Triumph of the Bishop
When the Bishop v. Knight situation occurs,
After 6.Nxc6 bxc6
After: 6.Nxc6 bxc6 ... One set of adverse Knights are traded off the board.

White gets rid of his King Knight, in exchange for Black's Queen Knight. In the process, Black is forced to weaken his Queenside Pawn structure, gaining Doubled Pawns (c7,c6).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 139 - Bishop v. Knight, Triumph of the Bishop, After 14.Bxe7 Qxe7
Triumph of the Bishop
When the Bishop v. Knight situation occurs,
After 14.Bxe7 Qxe7
After: 14.Bxe7 Qxe7, Both sides have traded dark-Bishops.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 139 - Bishop v. Knight, Triumph of the Bishop, After 17.Bxe4 dxe4
Triumph of the Bishop
When the Bishop v. Knight situation occurs,
After 17.Bxe4 dxe4
After: 17.Bxe4 dxe4 ... The Bishop v. Knight situation is created.

White decides Black's Outpost Knight (Ne4) is too much of a threat, so accepts the loss of his Bishop, in order to trade Black's Knight off the board.

But, which is the superior Minor Piece?

2. Determining the Superior Minor Piece (Bishop or Knight?) ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 139 - Bishop v. Knight, Triumph of the Bishop, After 18.Qxe4
Triumph of the Bishop
Determining the Superior
Minor Piece (Bishop or Knight?),
After 18.Qxe4
The Center becomes fully Open, after White's Queen captures the last Center Pawn (18.Qf3xd4).
  • The Open board favors the Bishop, which has plenty of space to attack (red arrows), and retreat to safety (green arrows).

  • There are Pawns on both flanks, which favors the Bishop.
Black has the factors that should help to give him superiority in the battle of Bishop v. Knight.

Black now plays to simplify the position, by taking-out (trading) the possible threats -- Queen and Rooks. At that point, the game will have transitioned into the Endgame phase. With only Kings, Pawns and the two solitary Minor Pieces, Black's lone Bishop should have the edge over White's lone Knight.


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The Result of the Triumph of the Bishop ...

A caveat to the Triumph of the Bishop ...

Even with the two factors that give Black's lone Bishop the edge (over White's lone Knight), H&M-S note that alone, Black's Bishop isn't capable of winning the game ...

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 139 - Bishop v. Knight, Triumph of the Bishop, After 28.axb3
(RESULT) Bishop v. Knight,
Triumph of the Bishop,
After 28.axb3
All White has to do is position his Pawns, and maneuver his King and Knight, carefully onto opposite color squares to Black's Bishop. That would render Black's Bishop incapable of attacking them.

This means that the Bishop needs help, to win the game.

Black achieves this with the aid of the King.

But, in order for that to happen, Black's King must win the race to the Center of the board ...
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 139 - Bishop v. Knight, Triumph of the Bishop, After 31...Kd5
(RESULT) Bishop v. Knight,
Triumph of the Bishop,
After 28...Kf8 29.Kf1 Ke7
30.Ke2 Kd6 31.Kd3 Kd5
After: 28...Kf8 29.Kf1 Ke7 30.Ke2 Kd6 31.Kd3 Kd5, Black reaches the Center of the board, first.

Black gained the crucial "head-start", in the race to the Center (28...Kg8-f8).

And then Black persists with the King's movement, until it reaches the Center, before White's King can claim the central vantage spot.

After that, the focus switches to the Pawns and the two Minor Pieces (Bishop v. Knight) ...
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 139 - Bishop v. Knight, Triumph of the Bishop
(RESULT) Bishop v. Knight,
Triumph of the Bishop,
After 40...Kf5
Black wins by using his Bishop, with minimal support (from the f4-Pawn), to keep White's King out away from helping defend his Kingside Pawns.

Black's Bishop is also used to prevent White's Knight from getting into position to attack his King.

This enables Black to use his King and Kingside Pawns, to first weaken White's Pawns -- creating an Isolated h-Pawn, which is blocked by Black's h-Pawn, before being taken-out by the King.

In H&M-S's words: "...we can safely conclude that bishop v. knight can be turned into a win by the help of minimal added advantage."

In this game, we saw that Black triumphed with the Bishop, due to the minimal help from its King and but a handful of Pawns.


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PGN

[Event "The Hague Olympiad"]
[Site ""]
[Date "1928"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Stoltz, Gösta"]
[Black "Kashdan, Isaac"]
[Result "0-1"]
[NIC "SO 3.3.6"]
[ECO "C45"]
[PlyCount "112"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Bd3 d5 8. exd5 cxd5 9. O-O O-O 10. Bg5 c6 11. Qf3 Be7 12. Rae1 Rb8 13. Ne2 Ne4 14. Bxe7 Qxe7 15. Nd4 Rxb2 16. Nxc6 Qc5 17. Bxe4 dxe4 18. Qxe4 Ba6 19. Re3 Qxc2 20. Qxc2 Rxc2 21. Nb4 Bxf1 22. Nxc2 Bc4 23. Ra3 Rb8 24. h3 Rb7 25. Rc3 Be6 26. Nd4 Bd7 27. Rb3 Rxb3 28. axb3 {PCC p.200 No. 139} Kf8 29. Kf1 Ke7 30. Ke2 Kd6 31. Kd3 Kd5 32. h4 Bc8 33. Nf3 Ba6 34. Kc3 h6 35. Nd4 g6 36. Nc2 Ke4 37. Ne3 f5 38. Kd2 f4 39. Ng4 h5 40. Nf6 Kf5 41. Nd7 Bc8 42. Nf8 g5 43. g3 gxh4 44. gxh4 Kg4 45. Ng6 Bf5 46. Ne7 Be6 47. b4 Kxh4 48. Kd3 Kg4 49. Ke4 h4 50. Nc6 Bf5 51. Kd5 f3 52. b5 h3 53. Nxa7 h2 54. b6 h1Q 55. Nc6 Qb1 56. Kc5 Be4 0-1

End.

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