Studying the Pieces (Minor Pieces):
Part of the Chess Strategies Guide (Section 3)
Chess Strategies Guide
Section 3: Studying the Pieces
[Minor Pieces: Knights & Bishops]
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The "Minor Pieces" are the Knights & Bishops. It's basically a collective term for describing them in a catch-all term, rather than speaking about them individually.
Minor Pieces are more powerful than Pawns, due to a greater range of movement and their ability to go backwards and forwards across the board (in their own unique ways).
However, Minor Pieces are weaker than the Major Pieces (Rooks & Queens) ...
At first, it may seem that the Bishop should be equal to the power of a Rook, because both can travel the full length of the board in one move (if conditions permit). However, because the Bishops are stuck on opposite color squares, they cannot "team-up" and work together, whereas the Rooks CAN be connected, which makes them stronger.
The following collection of articles compares strengths and weaknesses between the Minor Pieces only, as revealed by Horowitz & Mott-Smith in their book, Point Count Chess ...
Studying the Pieces (Minor Pieces) Index
- Strong Outpost Station
An Outpost Station is any square between each army's 4th and 6th Rank, where a Piece (mostly Knights) sits guarded by a Pawn.
A Strong Outpost Station
is one where the Piece (e.g. Knight) cannot be attacked by enemy Pawns.
The advantage of the Bishop-pair
is only awarded after an army loses one of their two Bishops, while their opponent still retains both Bishops.
Whoever still has both Bishops has the "Bishop-pair"
- Bishop v. Knight
In the Endgame phase when there are plenty of open spaces, a Bishop is considered slightly more beneficial than a Knight, due to its ability to get from one side of the board to another in a single move (a Knight is slower).
With that in mind, when one side loses all Minor Pieces except for one Bishop, and their opponent loses all Minor Pieces except for one Knight, it's the army who retains the Bishop that is considered to hold that particular advantage.
- Bad Bishop
Bishops are stronger if they have clear diagonals, but are weaker with each square that they're denied access to.
A Bad Bishop is one that has fewer squares to move to, usually through a combination of its own army blocking its path and enemy Pawns & Pieces defending squares that the Bishop would otherwise be able to move to.
Having a Bad Bishop
is considered a disadvantage