For those of you curious as to how each of the endgames arrived, I have included the complete game for all three games, but since the article is an endgame article, the analysis given will be on the endgame in all three cases. The unique thing about this article is that all three games below end up being drawn, and yet, only one of them should have ended in such a way. White should win the first game, and Black should win the second one! The third is a draw, but there is room for both sides to error.
Part I: Bishop vs Pawns
We will start with a game featuring one side having the Bishop and the other side having an extra pawn. This should almost always be winning for the side with the Bishop, especially in a case like the one we will see where Black only has one pawn for the piece, and White did indeed miss a fairly simple win.
NC Open, Round 2
W: Mohak Agarwalla (1977)
B: Patrick McCartney (2075)
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 b5 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.Bxc5 Nxc5 11.Nd4 Qb6 12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13.Qd4 Rb8 14.O-O-O b4 15.Ne2 b3 16.Ng3 bxa2 17.Kd2 Qb6 18.Ke3 Qxb2 19.Qxc5 Bd7 20.Bd3 g5 21.Nh5 gxf4+ 22.Kxf4 Qb4+ 23.Qxb4 Rxb4+ 24.Ke3 Ke7 25.Ra1 Rb2 26.Ng3 Ba4 27.Rhc1 Bb5 28.Ne2 Rc8 29.Kd2 Rg8 30.g3 Rg5 31.Nd4 Ke8 32.Nxb5 axb5 33.Kc3 Rb1 34.Rcxb1 axb1=Q 35.Rxb1 Rxe5 36.Rxb5 Rh5 37.h4 Ke7 38.Rb8 Kf6 39.Rg8 h6 40.Kd2 e5 41.Be2 Rf5 42.Ke1 e4 43.g4 Re5 44.g5+ hxg5 45.h5 g4 46.Bxg4 Rg5 47.Rxg5 Kxg5
So here we see White with a Bishop, an outside, well-advanced passed pawn, a c-pawn, and the King in front of Black's passed pawn. Black simply has 3 pawns, and about the only thing going for him is that the 3 pawns are connected. If they were scattered and isolated, the win would be even easier. That said, White should have absolutely no problems here. The main thing is to recognize a couple of very important factors:
- First and foremost, with White having a passed pawn, Black's King is severely limited. In reality, White's Bishop isn't even threatened because the Black King can't exit the box crated by the squares h5-e5-e8-h8. If Black goes anywhere outside that territory, the h-pawn promotes uncontested and White wins easily.
- The second thing to keep in mind is that given that White's c-pawn is not a Rook Pawn with a promotion square opposite the color of the Bishop, White does not have to worry about draw tricks from the stalemate perspective. If White can maintain the c-pawn and eliminate ANY TWO of the Black pawns, White wins easily. Use the Pawn and the Bishop to guard each other, and then tempo Black out and the last pawn will then go away, and White again wins easily.
- From Black's perspective, his only hope is to get at least two connected pawns far advanced up the board such that there is at maximum one light-square (since it's a light-squared Bishop that he is going up against) between his pawn and promotion. He must also get rid of the White h-pawn and get his King down near White's final pawn, the c-pawn. This is a very tall task if White plays the right moves.
- Given Black's idea, White wants to immobilize the Black pawns, especially the e-pawn.
This move is OK, but not necessary. However, it must be followed up correctly. A far easier way to victory was to play 48.c3!. Remember in the first bullet that Black is not threatening the Bishop because the White h-pawn will run. However, by playing the move 48.c3, White can keep the h5-pawn guarded, and immobilize the d-pawn on a light square, where the Bishop can then attack it. For example, after 48...f5 49.h6!, White forces the King back and away from the center as once again, taking the Bishop with either the Pawn or King leads to White Queening the h-pawn and Black can't get the g-pawn promoted in time. Therefore, forced is 49...Kxh6, when after 50.Bxf5 Kg5, the move 51.Be6 wins easily after either 51...Kf4 52.Bxd5 or 51...d4 52.cxd4, White wins easily because you have the Bishop and Pawn protecting each other versus the single Pawn scenario where White can put Black in Zugzwang and eventually win the pawn, and then the game easily with Bishop and Pawn versus the lone King.
Again, 48.Bd7 wasn't the move that White threw the win away, but why complicate matters when there are simpler wins out there?
Black can't take the h-pawn yet as 48...Kxh5 49.Bc6 wins the d-pawn, and while Black still does have two connected Pawns remaining, the e-pawn and the f-pawn, White's c-pawn is passed, and so Black won't be able to march the King deep into White's territory to harass the c-pawn and help promote his own e-pawn.
Here is where White blows it. White can either play 49.Bg4, going back to where it originally was, or else play the even stronger move, 49.Bc6!
The idea here is that if Black takes the h-pawn with 49...Kxh5, then 50.Bxe4 leads to split pawns for Black, which is far easier to win in a Bishop versus Pawns endgame than if they were connected. Again, the Bishop and c2-pawn will guard each other by putting the Bishop on d3. The d-pawn will be completely immobile, and White can use the King to tempo out the Black King and collect the loose pawns, occasionally moving the Bishop to "lose a tempo" whenever necessary.
After 49...e3, White has 50.Bf3, re-guarding the h-pawn and winning easily as the White King now has a path to d4 with the Bishop covering e2. Again, the Black King can't run to the d-pawn's rescue as the h-pawn will promote.
The last possibility is 49...f5, but here 50.Be8! does the job. Again, Black can't leave the box of the h-pawn. Three moves must be considered, but none of them work. After 50...e3, White has the simple 51.Ke2 and after 51...f4, White blocks with 52.Kf3 with the idea of 53.Bg6 and 54.Bd3, giving the Bishop the role of covering e2, and then tempoing Black out and winning the f-pawn. The Black King may be able to take on h5 after the Bishop goes to d3, but here you have a similar scenario to the game where the Black King is on h5 instead of being entrenched in White's territory. This is a simple win for White as he will collect the d-pawn with his King. The second possibility to consider is 50...f4, where White now plays 51.Bg6 and here, 51...e3 52.Ke2 is simple as we already saw this idea in the 50...e3 line. That leaves 52...d3, but after 53.c4!, Black's pawn mass is not far enough advanced. After 53...e3 54.Bxd3, the pawns are easily stopped while 53...f3 54.Bxe4, once again, the pawns are stopped, and the passed c-pawn wins it for White. The last move to consider is passively toggling the King with 50...Kh6, and here White should answer is 51.Kf2 with similar ideas to the previous lines. If Black ever advances e3, White puts the King on f3. If he advances the d-pawn, White answers again with c4, and of course, the idea is to put the Bishop on g6 and Black's position will crack.
The move played in the game fails tactically due to the fact that the only way to pressure Black's central pawn mass involves putting the Bishop on a square that Black can use to his advantage to gain the tempo and save his d-pawn.
Now is the time to grab the pawn! This leaves White with only one Pawn left, so even if White wins all three of Black's pawns, all Black cares about is eliminating the c-pawn, unless, of course, White just outright blunders and hands Black the win, but Black needs to instill reality into his mind and realize that even with the three pawns versus one, all he is looking to achieve is the draw, which he has there.
Trying to attack e4 from long distance (from the Black King that is) via 50.Bc6 doesn't work because of 50...f5. The longer Black can go without advancing the central pawns, the better it is for him as advancing one of the pawns weakens either the dark squares or the light squares around the pawns. Obviously, if forced to advance one of them, Black would like to put the pawns on dark squares so that the Bishop can't capture them, but for now, they should be left on d4 and e4 as long as possible.
By putting the Bishop on f5 instead, White forces Black to advance the e-pawn immediately, but it gives the Black King just enough to get to the d-pawn.
And here is the saving grace for Black. The Bishop is under attack, and there are no squares that the Bishop can go to immediately that cover the e2-square. Therefore, not only will White not be able to take on d4 this move, but he also won't be able to do it next move either because of the move ...e2 by Black where White can't stop promotion, and so Black buys two tempi to get the King to the rescue of his d-pawn.
52.Bh3 Kf4 53.Bf1
53.Bg2, with the idea of 53...Ke5 54.Bh1 f6 55.Bg2 f5 56.Bh1 etc, trying to tempo Black out, doesn't work. Instead of 53...Ke5, Black draws with 53...Kg3! Now 54.Kf1 f5 55.Ke2 is White admitting that he has nothing, and 55.Be2 also draws after 55...f4 56.Ke4 (56.Kxd4?? f3 is winning for Black) Kf2 57.Bh5 e2 58.Bxe2 Kxe2 59.Kxf4 d3 is also a draw. Note that 55.Kxd4?? actually loses after 55...Kf2 56.Bd3 (56.c4 also loses to 56...f4 57.c5 Kxf1 58.c6 e2 59.c7 e1=Q 60.c8=Q Qe3+ 61.Kd5 f3 62.Qa6+ Ke1 63.Qa1+ Ke2 64.Kc6 f2 65.Qb2+ Kf3 66.Qa1 Qd3 67.Qf6+ Ke2 68.Qe5+ Kd1 69.Qa1+ Kd2 -+) 56...f4 57.c4 f3 and the Black pawns are too fast.
53...Ke5 54.Be2 Kd5 55.Bf3 Kc5
And so once again, White can't cover e2, cover d5, and attack d4 with the King, all at the same time, as he has to make a move. Therefore, there is no available Zugzwang. If White moves the Bishop and continues to cover e2, the Black King can always go back to d5. If the Bishop moves and plugs up d5, then e2 is abandoned and Black can move his King, not worrying about the White King taking on d4 as then the e-pawn promotes. If White moves his King, then d4 won't be under attack and once again, Black can move his King. So again, there is no Zugzwang tactic available to White here.
56.Bg2 Kb4 57.Bf3
Now the problem is different. White would like to get the Bishop to d3 and the King free to chase down the Black pawns. However, White can't do this without the Black King getting to c3. For example, had he played 57.Bf1 instead, then 57...Kc5 58.Ke4 f5+ 59.Ke5 f4 60.Ke4 f3 61.Kxf3 Kb4! 62.Ke2 Kc3 63.Kd1 Kb4 and White can't make progress.
57...Kc5 58.Bh5 f6 59.Bf3 f5 60.Bh5 Kd5 61.Bf3+ Kc5 62.Bg2 Kb4 63.Bh3
The only move that works. 63...f4?? 64.Bg4 Kc5 65.Bf3! does put Black in Zugzwang and White will take the d-pawn on the next move. Instead, Black jettisons the f-pawn, keeping the critical ones on d4 (to stop the c-pawn and protect the e-pawn) and e3 (to limit what White can do with the Bishop and King due to the threat to promote), and now brings the King down to the White c-pawn, forcing White to baby the pawn at all times. If the pawn goes, White has only a Bishop left!
64.Bxf5 Kb2 65.Ke2 Kc1!
Now what? If 66.Kf3, then 66...Kd2 and Black will toggle to eternity between d1 and d2. For example, 67.Bd3 Kd1 68.Ke4 Kd2 69.Kxd4 e2 70.Bxe2 Kxc2 and it's a draw.
So we will note this position after Black's 66th move. White spends the rest of the game uselessly trying to make progress, but there is nothing here, and we will see this position occur three times with White to move.
67.Kd1 Ka2 68.Kc1 Ka3 69.Kb1 Kb4 70.Kb2 Ka4 71.Kc1 Ka3 72.Kd1 Kb2 73.Ke2
Note that this does not constitute 2-fold repetition as the first time it was with White to move and this time it is with Black to move. Therefore, this position has occurred once with each player to move.
73...Kc1 74.Bf5 Kb2 75.Kd3 Kc1 76.Bg4 Kb2 77.Be2 Kc1 78.Bg4 Kb2 79.Be6 Kc1 80.Bf5 Kb2 81.Bg4+ Kc1 82.Be2 Kb2 83.Bf3 Kc1 84.Be4 Kb2 85.Ke2 Kc1 86.Bd3 Kb2
It turns out the diagram position above occurred here on move 86, but Black missed that.
87.Kd1 Ka2 88.Ke2 Kb2
And so now we have the last diagram for the second time (In Black's mind) with White to move. Of course, other positions have also occurred twice, but this is the one that will ultimately occur three times.
89.Kf3 Kc1 90.Ke2 Kb2 1/2-1/2
And here Black claimed the draw based on moves 66, 88, and 90 (despite it actually occurring four times!)
Ultimately, White failed to win this game due to a lack of understanding how critical King position is and that White should have improved the position of his own King before giving up the h-pawn to deflect the position of the Black King. The White King needed to be blocking the e- and f-pawns initially rather than trying to hunt down the d-pawn by going to d2. This was one of those cases where prevent defense works better than trying to force the issue, and that is very often the case in endgames where one side has a minor piece and the other doesn't. Prevent the side with the extra pawn or two from storming down the board and promoting, making the pawns immobile while maintaining your own trumps, is the key to winning this type of endgame.
Part II - Same Color Bishops
With same color Bishop endings, there are two things to always be aware of that aren't nearly as common in Bishop versus Pawns or opposite color
- The first one is Domination, and from that, often time, Zugzwang. The Bishop can only occupy half the squares on the board. If both players have a Bishop on the same color squares in an endgame, there are fewer squares that both sides are fighting over. Rather than 64 possible squares, there are only 32, and often times, certain squares or entire diagonals can be critical to control. Domination of the most important diagonals, which in theory can mean control of up to 14 squares, almost half of all the possible squares the Bishop can occupy, is often the most critical aspect of the Bishop ending, and if pawns become immobile, and the Kings are opposing each other where a King move from either side allows the opposing King to penetrate, can often mean that it comes down to the two Bishops, and if one side dominates all the critical squares, and the opposite side is trying to avoid penetration by the opponent, then the side with the domination can often toggle his Bishop on the dominant diagonal, forcing the opposing side into Zugzwang, where his only choices are to allow the opposing Bishop or the opposing King to penetrate into the position. This theme will be seen in the first game.
- The second theme to look out for is the sacrifice. Pawn chains are not safe in Bishop endings, especially if your pawns are on the same color as the Bishops. Sometimes, when penetration with the Kings or the Pawns is impossible, a draw is not automatic, and a sacrifice of the Bishop for a pawn or two can lead to an unstoppable promotion, or a scenario of the Bishop vs Pawns ending we saw above, only in a case where the side with the pawns has the upper hand rather than the side with the piece. We will see this theme in the second game.
Before going further with the games, I just wanted to illustrate a very simple example of the Bishop sacrifice. Obviously the instance that we will see in the second game will be a far more complicated example, but here is a very simple version of what can happen if you are not careful in Same Color Bishop endings.
Here, it is Black to move. White's last move was 1.Bh3. If Black takes the Bishop, it's a simple draw, but Black has far better here:
This wins for Black as 2.bxc4 b3! wins for Black. White has no way to stop a pawn promotion on a1, regardless of whether White takes the pawn via 3.axb3 a2 or moves the Bishop as his own pawn blocks the diagonal. For example, 3.Be6 bxa2 and 4...a1=Q can't be stopped.
We will see a far more complicated example of this in the final game. But for now, let's look at a game that features the idea of domination and zugzwang.
NC Open, Round 4
W: Davide Nastasio (1854)
B: Patrick McCartney (2075)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 Bb4 5.Bg5 d6 6.dxe5 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Nxe5 8.Nxe5 dxe5 9.Qxd8+ Kxd8 10.Bd3 h6 11.Bxf6+ gxf6 12.Rb1 Ke7 13.h4 Rg8 14.g3 Rb8 15.Ke2 Be6 16.a3 Rgd8 17.Rb2 Rd6 18.Rhb1 Rb6 19.Rb4 Rd8 20.Ke3 Rdd6 21.Rxb6 Rxb6 22.Rxb6 axb6
What we have at the moment is a level position. If this were a pair of GMs playing this game, it would not be a surprise if a draw was agreed upon here. However, this game is between amateurs, and amateurs make mistakes, and it will start with a major error by White. If both sides pretty much sit put, it will be a draw, but we will see White get stuck in a situation where his g-pawn will be immobilized on a light square, and this combined to Black achieving domination of the f1-a6 diagonal will create a Zugzwang scenario where Black should have won the game until he fails to follow up the Zugzwang correctly.
If White wants to try to penetrate, the best move here is 23.f4, but it should still end in a draw. Note that White's Kingside Pawns would still remain on dark squares, safe from the opposing Bishop.
23...f5 24.f3 Kd6 25.g4?
This is ultimately the move that gets White into trouble. A simple move like 25.exf5 would retain a level position. Now we are going to see Black paralyze the White pawn on g4, and the attack by Black will center around this along with White's shattered pawn structure on the Queenside and domination of the f1-a6 diagonal.
25...fxg4 26.fxg4 f6!
Because the White King cannot break through, Black does not need to worry about any weak pawns on dark squares. The only pawn of Black's on a light square is the b7-pawn, which is virtually impossible for White to get at. White, on the other hand, has the shattered pawns on the Queenside along with two weak pawns affixiated on light squares, namely e4 and g4, the latter being the real issue for White.
27.Kd2 Kc5 28.Kc1 Bc4!
The shattered Queenside allows Black to take over the f1-a6 diagonal. White cannot afford to trade Bishops. After 29.Bxc4?? Kxc4, it doesn't matter if White plays 30.Kd2 or 30.Kb2, Black will tempo White out because of the White Pawn on c2. It makes it so that White has no toggle squares to continue guarding the c3-pawn, and so after something like 30.Kd2, Black can simply play 30...b5!, which put's White in Zugzwang. No matter what White does, he would lose a pawn. Therefore, White must abandon the open diagonal and hand it over to Black.
29.Bd1 Bf1 30.Bf3 Kc4 31.Kd2
So we have reached the first stage of Black's goal. Black wants to force White to lose a pawn. To do this, we want the Bishop arrangement exactly as it is with White to move so that when White moves the Bishop, he has to allow Black to come in via g2 or e2, harassing either the e-pawn or g-pawn. However, we also want the White King as far away as possible from this action, and therefore, we want to force the White King to be on b2 instead of d2. Lastly, it needs to be White's move at the end of all of this. So how do we achieve this?
Step 1: Attack the a3-pawn so that White must bring his King to the other side of the doubled c-pawns.
32.Kc1 Ka4 33.Kb2
The first phase has been achieved. The problem now is, if Black tries to run back to c4 with the King, the White King simply runs back to d2. Therefore, we need the King to be further away. From this position, White cannot move the Bishop. With the Black King pressuring the a3-pawn, if it were White to move in this position, he would be forced to go to a2. From there, Black can play ...Kb5, headed back to c4 where the White King can't make it to d2 in time, and so we would have the Black King on c4 with the White King on b2 instead of d2, which is what we are trying to accomplish, or else White would have to come up with Kb3 in response to ...Kb5, and as seen in the game, that will lead to other problems. Therefore:
Step 2: Make it White's move in this same position.
Since the King can't move, White's Bishop is forced to d1.
Now White must move his King as otherwise, 35.Bf3 Bf1 achieves the goal for Black that we talked about at move 33.
A stall tactic for Black.
Or 36.Bf3 Bc4+ 37.Kb2 Bf1 reaching the desired position.
36...Bc4 37.Bf3 Bf1
Mission Acomplished! We have reached the same position as the diagram after White's 33rd move, only now it is White to move instead of Black.
Now if 39.Kb2, then 39...Kc4 and White can't get his King to d2 and he is in Zugzwang because he must move his Bishop, allowing the Black Bishop to crash in on the weak White Kingside pawns on e4 and g4.
So White tries to keep the Black King out of c4, but stall tactics will force White to run out of moves and once again put him in Zugzwang.
39...Kc5 40.a4 c6!
Now White has three choices and none of them are good. Drop a pawn, allow the Black King to c4, or allow the Bishop on f1 to penetrate toward the weak Kingside pawns on light squares.
41.Ka3 Kc4 42.Kb2 b5 43.axb5
Or 43.a5 c5! and again White's in Zugzwang.
And it's official, White is in Zugzwang! 44.h5 would be answered by 44...b6 and White is still forced to move. Black is about to win a pawn.
44.Bd1 Bg2 45.Be2+ Kc5 46.Bd3 Bf3 47.g5 fxg5 48.hxg5 hxg5 49.Kc1
This move does not completely throw away the win yet, but far simpler is for Black to shove the g-pawn. After 49...g4! 50.Kd2 g3 51.Ke1 (51.Ke3 Bh1!) g2 52.Kf2 b4 53.cxb4+ Kxb4 54.Kg1 Kc3 55.Kf2 Kd2 56.Kg1 Ke3 57.Bc4 Bxe4, White is completely lost!
Now Black is throwing the advantage away. Black is still winning after 50... Kxb4 51.Kd2 g4 52.Ke3 Kc3 53.Kf2 Kd4
51.Kd2 Bxe4 52.Be2??
Handing Black one last chance. The immediate 52.c3+ is correct.
Black should keep the pawn at home on b7 and move the Bishop away from e4, whether that be 52...Bd5 or 52...Bg2. What matters is that Black will be able to answer 53.c3+ now with 53...Be4!, which doesn't allow the White King to penetrate via e3 like it does in the game.
53.c3+ Kd5 54.Ke3! Bf5 55.Ba6
Possibly even stronger is 55.c4+!
55...Kc6 56.c4 Kd6 57.Bb7 Be6 58.Ba6 g4
A better try was 58...Bd7, but life is still a lot more difficult for Black than it would have been after 49...g4.
59.Kf2 also works, but the game move is simplest.
59...Bd7 60.c5+ bxc5 61.bxc5+ Kxc5 62.Kxe5 g3 63.Bf1 Bb5 64.Kf4 Bxf1 65.Kxg3 1/2-1/2
A depressing result for Black. When you have the extra pawn, and the promotion square is opposite the color of the Bishops, the idea is to get the pawn to the 7th rank (or 2nd for Black) and tie down the King, and then using your own King to penetrate on the other side of the board since the Bishop is totally useless at covering the promotion square.
While the last game saw the themes of Domination and Zugzwang, this is not always possible, and the other main theme to always be on the lookout for is to sacrifice the Bishop to achieve an unstoppable pawn.
NC Open, Round 5
W: Patrick McCartney (2075)
B: Maurice Dana (2200)
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bg5 c6 10.Nxe5 Re8 11.O-O-O Na6 12.Rhf1 Nc5 13.f4 Nfxe4 14.Nxe4 Nxe4 15.Rd8 Rxd8 16.Bxd8 Be6 17.Rd1 g5 18.Nf3 gxf4 19.Bc7 Bh6 20.Rd8+ Rxd8 21.Bxd8 Nd6 22.b3 Nf5 23.Bg5 Bxg5 24.Nxg5 Nd4 25.Bd3 h6 26.Nf3 Nxf3 27.gxf3
So here we have a different scenario than the last game. Black is a pawn up, but his extra pawn is doubled, and no pawn is unopposed by a pawn of the opposite color on the same file. You don't even have the typical ideas available that you get when you have a majority. For example, when you have a g- and h-pawn against just an h-pawn, you advance the g-pawn first and then bring the h-pawn with it to turn a 2-on-1 into a 1-on-0. With this luxury unavailable, Black must find something else if he wants to penetrate. There are key squares that if the Black King were able to enter, he would likely win. These include squares like d4, c3, or h2. The problem is, White always has corresponding squares. For example, if you label e5 with a 1, Black has c3 (or d3 in some cases), then put a 2 in f5 and f6 and a 2 for White on d2. A 3 goes on g5 for Black and e1 for White. A 4 goes on h4 for Black and f2 for White, and then h3 gets a 5 for Black and g1 gets a 5 for White. With Bishops on the board, White can toggle his Bishop if he needs to lose a tempo, and so King infiltration does not appear to be an option either. White will keep the Bishop on the b1-h7 diagonal so as not to allow the Black Bishop to attack the White pawn chain.
So what does that leave for Black? Should he offer a draw right now? The answer lies in a piece sacrifice. But where is that sacrifice? It turns out that the sacrifice is also not winning for Black, though it's not lost either, but what it does do is open up White to the most vulnerable opportunity to mis-defend, and it turns out he does exactly that, but like the first two games, Black does everything right to reach the opportunity, but will fail at the end of it to make the final execution needed to win.
27...Kg7 28.Kd2 Kf6 29.Be4 Ke5 30.Kc3 Bh3 31.Bd3 a5 32.a4 Bg2 33.Be2 Bh3 34.Bd3 Be6 35.Bc2 f6 36.Bd3 Bf7 37.Bc2 Bh5 38.Bd1 c5 39.Be2 Be8 40.Bd3 Bc6 41.Be2 Kf5 42.Kd2 Kg5 43.Ke1 b6
So now the Queenside is completely blocked. White clearly won't ever advance the h-pawn, but with the given position, it is now fairly obvious what Black has in mind. He is going to advance the f-pawn to f5 and try to sacrifice the Bishop on e4 to give Black connected passed pawns. He will want to do this with the White King closer to the Kingside as he wants to force White to take the Bishop. If the King is far away from the Queenside pawns, White won't be able to ignore the Bishop and decline it as the blocked pawns for White are on the color squares of the Bishops. White can't let the Black Bishop infiltrate and attack the Queenside at the base.
44.Bd1 f5 45.Be2 Kf6 46.Kd2 Ke5 47.Kc3 Kf6 48.Kd2 Kg5 49.Ke1 Kh4 50.Kf2 Be4
So here is the position that Black envisioned. White is virtually forced to take the Bishop as 51.Bd1 Bd3 leads to various forms of Zugzwang, whether that be a case of the White Bishop moving and letting the Black Bishop win on the Queenside, or else the King leaving the corresponding squares and Black using the King to win material.
51.fxe4 fxe4 52.Bf1 Kg4 53.Ke2 Kf5
White has spent a very long time defending. Roughly for two hours straight. This will often wear on someone. There are two moves that draw for White, one of which leaves the possibility open for Black to error and actually win! Can you find the two drawing moves, and can you determine which one leaves Black with the possibility to error?
This is one of two moves that works. The difference between this one and the other is that here, White has no winning chances. The other drawing move is 54.Kd2!, and here, White leaves Black room to error. The problem is that Black can never advance his pawns as White then penetrates because advancing one of the pawns weakens certain squares. After 54...Ke5 55.Kc3 h5 56.Bh3, Black has nothing better than to toggle the King. A move like 56...f3?? loses. After 57.Bd7, Black has no way to save the game. For example:
- 57...Kd6 58.Bf5 Ke5 59.Bc8 Kf4 60.Kd2 h4 61.Bd7 f2 62.Bh3 Kf3 63.Bf1 h3 64.Bxh3 e3+ 65.Kd3 e2 66.Bg4+ Kxg4 67.Kxe2 Kh3 68.Kxf2 Kxh2 69.Ke3 Kg1 70.Ke4 Kf2 71.Kd5 Ke1 72.Kc6 Kd1 73.Kxb6 Kc2 74.Kxc5 Kxb3 75.Kb5 Kc3 76.c5 and White wins.
- 57...Kf4 58.Kd2 e3+ 59.Kd3 h4 60.Bh3 e2 61.Kd2 Kg5 62.Bc8 Kf4 63.Bb7 Kg4 64.Ke1 Kh3 65.Bxf3 Kxh2 66.Kxe2 Kg1 67.Bg4 Kg2 68.Ke3 Kg3 69.Bf3 h3 70.Bb7 Kg4 71.Bc8+ Kg3 72.Bxh3 Kxh3 73.Ke4 Kg3 74.Kd5 Kf2 75.Kc6 Ke3 76.Kxb6 Kd4 77.Kb5 and again White wins.
After the game move, White will defend the rest of the way, but will hang on by a thread.
54...Ke5 55.Bd7 Kd4 56.Bc6 e3
Or 56...f3+ and it's a pin that saves White. 57.Ke1 Ke3 58.Bd5 f2+ 59.Kf1 Kf3 60.Bc6 Ke3 61.Bd5 Kf3 with a draw.
57.h4 Kc3 58.h5 Kxb3 59.Kxd3 Kb2 60.Bd7 Kb3 61.Bc6 Kb4 62.Bd7 Kb3 1/2-1/2
A very tough game indeed and it took a very long series of accurate, defensive moves from White to draw this game!
So we saw three endgames involving Bishop against Pawns and Same Color Bishops. We saw three major themes in this article. The fact that King position is critical, which we saw in the first game. The constant theme of domination and zugzwang that we saw in the second game along with the third game in the case of White not accepting the sacrifice, and lastly, while it wasn't enough to win in the case of game three, the theme of the sacrifice always has to be taken into consideration, as there will be times where games end up similar to the "simplified example" covered earlier where the Bishop Sacrifice will score the full point. Of course, lots of calculation is required in this case as one mis-step and you can easily lose doing that!
Well, that concludes this article on Bishop Endings. Till next time, good luck in all of your tournament games!