4. Bishop endings
In this book, bishop endings, we shall examine the endgames of bishop versus pawn (s) as well as all endings of bishops with pawns. In contrast to knight, bishop is a long-range piece wielding power from one to the other end of the chess-board. However, its impact is two-dimensional – as it lacks the ability to jump over obstacles, its activity, speed and striking power will to a much greater extent depend on the pawn structure. As a result, it is the most efficient in open positions.
Its main short-coming is being restricted to moving only along the squares of the same colour, thus not presenting any danger to pieces placed on the squares of different colour. Pawns placed on the squares of the same colour also may drastically restrict its activity. It is useful to know right from the start that bishop’s worth is, on average, slightly greater then that of knight: numerically it equals three and one third pawns. In order to be able to understand the strategy and specificity of some solutions, we first have to become familiar with bishop’s capability as well as its tactical peculiarities.
Bishop’s activity, that is, its actual strength, is the greatest in the centre and then linearly diminishes as the bishop approaches the rim of the chess-board.
The bishop placed in the central square controls as many as 13 squares. From the square “ring” defined by the c-file and the third rank it controls 11 squares; from the ring next to the rim it covers 9 squares, while from the rim it always controls 7 squares even when it is placed in the very corner! Bishop is much faster than king or knight. You should note the most important feature of the bishop’s “geometry”: from any initial square bishop takes only two moves to reach the square of the same colour anywhere on the chess-board! Often it may choose between two different trajectories. For instance, it can reach e8 via d1-a4-e8 or via d1-h5-e8!