Donny Fischer Larsen

Endgame Fundamentals: When Bishops Rule

By Donny Gray

Last month we looked at the knights and when they can dominate the position. This month we will take a look at bishops. We will look at their strengths and their weaknesses.

The biggest liability of a bishop, of course, is that it can only move on ½ of the squares of a chess board. But the biggest advantage of being a long range piece cancels out most of that liability. It does have in common with the knight the fact that the closer to the center the more squares it controls. For example:

Donny Image 1

As we can see in the 1st example the bishop on a7 controls 7 squares. But what happens if we move it in the center?  Example #2 shows us the answer.

Now the bishop on d4 controls 13 squares! A big difference.

Since bishops are long range pieces, you can use them to create mating attacks from afar with other pieces. For example:

The most common of all is the queen and bishop mating threat. Here the mate is, of course, Qg7.

As we discussed before in a past column, bishops are great for dominating other pieces, especially the knight.