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Elementary endgames (Part 7b)
Outside passed Pawn with Bishops.

Like the corresponding endgames with no pieces or with Knights-only, the strong side usually wins Bishop-only endgames with an outside passed Pawn. There is an important exception. The strong side has winning chances only if the opposing Bishops move on the same color squares.

Bishops of the same color

It should be obvious that the expression of the same color means the color of the Bishop's squares, not the color of the Bishops! In the following diagram, both Bishops are on dark-color squares.

Speelman 132; Averbakh 121

A Bishop has two strengths. It marks time easily and it can control both sides of the board at the same time. Nevertheless, White wins by limiting the moves of the enemy Bishop and forcing its exchange.

1.Kf1 Kf8 2.Ke2 Ke8

The Kings take paths to avoid checks from the opposing Bishop. While not necessary in this position, it is a useful trick to avoid surprises in Bishop-only endgames.

3.Kd3 Kd7 4.Kc4 Kc6 5.Bc3 g6 6.b4 Bb6 7.f3

Now Black marks time while White creates a passed Pawn.

7...Bc7 8.a4 Bb6 9.Bd4 Bc7 10.b5+ axb5+ 11.axb5+


If 11...Kd6, guarding the approach to the Kingside, White wins with 12.Bc5+ Kd7 13.b6 Bf4 14.Kd5, followed by 15.Bd4 and 16.Be5.

12.Kd5 Bb8

The Black Bishop prevents the White King from reaching the Kingside. Now White must clear a path to attack the Black Pawns. If 12...Bf4 13.Be5 Be3 14.Kd6.


White can't barge ahead with 13.Be5, because Black has 13...Ba7 14.Kd6 (14.Bd6 Bf2 15.Ke5 Bg3+) 14...Bb8+, forcing the White King away from the Black Kingside Pawns.

13...Bc7 14.g3 h5 15.h4 (If 15.f4 h4 gets Black out of trouble). 15...Bb8 16.b6

Zugzwang! The Bishop has no useful moves. Note that White on the move could now continue 17.f4, 18.Bd4, and 19.Be5, forcing the exchange of Bishops.

A possible continuation from the diagram is 16...Kc8 17.Kc6 Be5 18.f4 Bb8 19.b7+ Kd8 20.Bb6+ Ke8 21.Bc7.

Bishops of opposite colors

Bishops of opposite colors, where one Bishop moves on light colored squares while the enemy Bishop moves on dark squares, are notorious for their drawing tendencies.

Speelman 134; Averbakh 124

White has difficulty creating a passed Pawn on the Queenside, which is a necessary condition for promoting to a Queen. Black has to be careful that White doesn't create a passed Pawn on the h-file. Following is a typical continuation.

1.Kf1 Kf8 2.Ke2 Ke7 3.Kd3 Be6 4.b3 Kd6 5.Bb4+ Kc6 6.Kc3 g6 7.a4 Kb6 8.Bf8 h5 9.b4 Bd5 10.g3 Be6 11.Kd4 Bb3 12.a5+ Kb5 13.Ke5 Be6 14.Kf6 Kc6 15.Kg5 Kb5 16.h4 Kc6 17.f3 Bd5 (The threat was 18.g4) 18.Kf4 Kb5 19.g4 Kc6 20.gxh5 gxh5. White can't make progress.

In our other examples of converting an outside passed Pawn, White (1) created a passed Pawn, (2) used it as a decoy to penetrate with the King to Black's Kingside, and (3) won another Pawn. Here, even where White succeeds in executing the first two steps of the plan, the third step is impossible to achieve by force.

Speelman 135

White has several possible plans, none satisfactory.

1.h4 Bc4 2.f3 Bf1 (2...Be6? 3.g4 wins) 3.g4 Be2 4.gxh5 gxh5 5.f4 Bc4 6.Kg5 Be2 is drawn.

1.f4 Bd5 2.g3 Bc4 3.f5 Bd3 is also easily drawn.

 More of this Feature
• Part 7 : Introduction
• Part 7a : Knights
• Part 7b : Bishops
• Part 7c : Minor pieces
• Part 7d : Major pieces
 Related Resources
• Part 6 - Rook's Pawn