Handto Hand Combat

A Bishop can be a godsend in positions where it deals the final stroke, taking away the enemy King's escape squares without any assistance from the other pieces.

Once F. Olafsson offered to show the shortest game he had ever played in his life. "Here it is," the Icelandic grandmaster said, smiling.

Bodversson-Olaffson (1947): 1 P-KB4 P-K4 2 PxP P-Q3 3 PxP BxP 4 N-KB3 N-QB3 5 P-KR3?? B-N6 mate!

Also quite amusing is this position from Tid-Del-Mar (1896), played, it is true, in the last century, which perhaps eases the pain.

In the preceding examples the final stroke dealt by the Bishop was possible thanks to the cramped position of the enemy King and the weakness of the diagonal leading to it. Such situations arise, as a rule, as a result of clear errors by one of the players; however, one can develop a feeling about how to bring about an effective attack.

NN-Pilsbury (1899): 1 . . . Q-B8ch! (Forcing White to blockade KN1) 2 B-Nl Q-B6ch! 3 BxQ BxB mate.

No More, No Less

Pretty final positions have caught the attention of chess composers and have been taken into their arsenal by them. V. Korolkov has managed to execute this idea of the blockade of the enemy King with an analogous mating picture, most economically and artfully. Some readers may possibly find this study difficult, but its solution will provide great aesthetic de-light.

The position looks as if it arose in actual play. It seems as if Black has just sacrificed a Rook and the pawns are moving irresistibly ahead to queen. One also gets the impression that Black should win, since the White QP is easily stopped by the King. But...

The first surprise. The Rook lies in ambush, to reply to 2 . .. P-B8/Q with 3 P-Q8/Qch KxQ 4 B—R6dis ch K-B2 5 BxQ KxR 6 KxB, winning. But Black still has something up his sleeve.

Black threatens not only 3 . . . P-B8/Q but also 3 . . . BxR. 3 KxB does not solve the problem: 3 . . . P-B8/Q 4 P-Q8/Qch KxQ 5 B-R6dis ch K-B2 6 R-N7ch K-Bl 7 R-N6dis ch K-B2 8 R-N7ch K-B1 9 RxPdis ch K-Nl 10 R-N7ch K-Rl with a draw, since White cannot take the Queen without giving up the Rook.

To continue the cat-and-mouse game: now the Rook is within the Black pieces' zone of accessibility. But the struggle for that has not yet ended.

"And White wins," many would say. But. . .

The point! To an undefended square and into a pin! And the Bishop will even give itself up with check. However after 6 RxBch K-B2 the game is drawn, as was shown in the notes to Black's second move.

6 BxQ K-B2

It is becoming clear that the King hopes to get to N2 so as to wall the Rook up in the corner. This must be prevented.

Another retort: the Bishop is diverted.

8 BxP K-N2

Black has realized his plan, but White will have the last word.

9 B-B3H KxR

It can easily be seen that after 9 ... P-R3 10 BxPch KxB 11 RxB White easily stops the QRP.

10 BxP mate.

There are no words which can express the joy of this ending. There remains but one piece on the board, and the entire game has been played for this one, single move.

countered in tournament play, but there is this unlikely possibility.

Unbelievable, but True

With the help of pawns, a Bishop sometimes manages to conclude a fight in some very surprising ways.

The ending of Denker-Gonzales (1945) is rarely en

It is hardly believable that the Bishop on N2, blocked by its own pawn on B6, in three moves will deal the decisive blow to the enemy King. But this is brought about with the aid of two tactical techniques already known to us.

1 NxPch! (clearing KN5; the Queen will go to R6 without losing a tempo). 1 ... NxN 2 Q-R6! (diverting the Knight on B2 which was blocking the KBP). Black resigns. On 2 . . . NxQ there follows 3 P-B7 dis ch with mate on the next move.

Note that 1 . .. RxN did not save Black: 2 BxR NxB 3 Q-R6! Q-Nl 4 R-Kl! and there is no defense to 5 R-K8.

White finished with a similar combination in Salwe-NN (1906).

Black has some dangerous threats (in particular, P-K7dis ch) but his King is insecure.

1 RxB

This sacrifice (forced, it is true) not only eliminates a dangerous enemy, but weakens the black squares in the opponent's position, allowing the Queen to get behind the lines.

No better is 1 . . . RxR 2 Q-B7 (threatening 3 Q-R7 mate and 3 B-K5). If Black had not taken the Rook, and played 1 . . . BxB, then he also gets mated: 2 Q-Q8ch K-N2 (2.. . QxQ 3 B-K5ch) 3 B-K5 QxB 4 R-Q7ch K-R3 5 R-R7 mate.

A familiar situation has arisen: The opponent's King has been blocked in by its Bishop and completely restricted spatially. To deal the final blow, only the Queen need be deflected from the long diagonal.

3 Q-R4ch! and Black resigns, since on 3 . . . QxQ 4 B-K5ch he is mated; and after 3 . . . K-N2 4 QxQch RxQ 5 B-K5ch, he is no better off than before.

Salwe's combination is even more remarkable if you consider that the famous Polish master found it in a simultaneous exhibition, playing blindfolded!

A Niche in Your Memory

The King can come under the irresistible blows of the Bishop not only in the corner, but also in the center.

In Vanka-Skala (1960), White lured the enemy King out of hiding to meet his death. 1 P-QN4!

The diagonal is opened for the Bishop with tempo and prepares the decisive move.

1 ... Q-Ql 2 QxPch!! KxQ (2... K-Nl 3 B-N2) 3 B-N2 mate!

To take advantage of the latent combinational possibilities one needs, of course, to be responsive to tactical opportunities and, to some degree to one's imagination, but certain signs can serve as benchmarks for further search. Above all these are a cramped enemy King's position and open diagonals for the Bishops.

The following uncomplicated but not-so-obvious com bination reflects honorably on one of the strongest Soviet women chessplayers.

Domsgen-Kozlovskaya (1975): I . . . QxPch! and White resigns, since on 2 KxQ there follows an unusual mate —2... B-B3!

In some instances the opponent's King is forcibly removed from his shelter and then has death meted out by a not-so courteous Bishop.

Zilberstein-Veresov (1969): 1 . .. Q-R7ch 2 K-N4 P-B4ch 3 K-N5 QxBch! 4 QxQ B-K6 mate.

In the game Kliukin-Hergel (1971) the final judgment came in the "outlying districts."

1 P-N6! (this is no simple exchange, but the beginning of a combination) 1 .. . PxP 2 RxB! QxQ 3 RxPch K-N5 4 P-R3ch K-R5 5 R-B4ch! PxR 6 B-B6 mate. A very pretty combination.

does not usually obtain complete freedom of movement until the endgame, we must turn to the realm of chess composition for some examples.

Shades of Studies

Now let us look at some positions in which the Bishop finishes off the struggle in cooperation with the King and pawns. Inasmuch as the King

The mating patterns presented seem very artful. Nevertheless, they are attainable.


The win is also to be had after 2 . . . P-K3ch 3 K-Q6 K-B2 4 K-K5 K-Nl 5 K-B6 P-K4 6 B-K3 P-R4 (6.. . P-K5 7 B-R6) 7 B-N5 P-K5 8 K-N6 or 2... P-K4 3 K-K6 P-K5 4 K-B6.

A paradoxical move, which leads to a marvelous finale.

3... KxQ 4 K-K6! K-Rl 5 K-B7 P-K3 (K4) 6 B-N7 mate.

A very pretty study. But the final position is not new. It had been known since the 1820s.

We have before us a position from a game between the two great French players Deschapelles (White) and Labourdonnais. It is hard to say just how this "abstract painting" came about, since the opening moves have not been preserved. Nevertheless, chess historians consider this position authentic, not fabricated. In Neistadt's opinion, put forth in his book Uncrowned Champions (Moscow, 1975), in that long-ago era in France the game was actually called partie des pions or "pawn game." One player could remove any piece from the board and exchange it for several pawns with the condition that they did not cross the halfway line of the board. It seems this game was played under those rules.

White's position seems completely hopeless, but Descha-pelles finds a brilliant combination idea: 1 NxBch PxN (1 . . . K-Rl 2 N-B7ch K-Nl 3 QxPch! KxQ 4 B-B6ch K-N1 5 N-R6 mate) 2 Q-R8ch!! KxQ 3 K-B7! R-Blch 4 KxR and mate by the Bishop on B6 is unstoppable.

Almost a la Troitsky, but seventy years earlier.

Similar endings have appeared in problem literature.

Cheron (1943)

Mate in Three Moves

If the Black Bishop can be diverted from the long diagonal, its White counterpart can deal the fatal blow from N7.

Gutman (1935)

Gutman (1935)

Mate in Six Moves

The mating mechanism has already been set up, and all that remains is for the Bishop to find its way to the long diagonal. Since the Black Rook is preventing this, the maneuver takes six moves.

Not 1 B-N4? immediately because of 1 . . . R-B2! and White not only does not give mate, but in fact loses: 2 KxB K-N7. I B-R3 also does not work in view of I . . . R-QN2. White must maneuver so as not to allow the Rook onto the QB or QN files.

1 ... R-B4 2 B-N4 R-B6 3 B-B5 R-B5 (3 . . . R-B6 4 B-Q4) 4 B-R3 R-QN5 5 BxR and mate next move.

And now another mating picture.

Troitsky (1916)


L „.i


White's problem is to force the White King to occupy one of the squares along the QN1-KR7 diagonal. A diagonal check would then win the Queen. In defending himself Black is ensnared in a mating net.

I Q-Q4ch K-N4 2 Q-B6ch K-N5 3 Q-B3ch K-N4 4 Q-N3ch B-N5

A clap of thunder! If 5 . . . K-B4, then 6 Q-B6ch K-K5 7 Q-Q4ch K-B4 8 Q-Q3ch or 5 . . . K-B5 6 Q-B2ch B-B6ch 7 QxBch K-N4 8 Q-N3ch K-B4 and once again 9 Q-Q3ch.

Wurzburg (1896)

Mate in Three Moves

1 B-R3! (now on any King move or KP move White replies 2 Q-N4 with unavoidable mate on QB8 or Q7) 1 ... P-R4 2 Q-R6ch! (the same sacrifice as in the Troitsky study) 2 . . . KxQ (2 . . . K-Rl, N1 or B2—3 Q-B8 mate) 3 B-B8 mate.

Again an echo from ages past.

This is a position by del Rio (1750). Mate in three. 1 N-K6ch! QxN (J . . . PxN 2 Q-B8 mate or 1 . . . K-Nl 2 Q-N8ch!) 2 Q-R6ch! KxQ 3 B-B8 mate.

The following mating positions occur at the edge of the board.

The problems arise, as we can see, because of the Black King's cramped position, blocked by its own pawns.

Kaminer (1925), endgame study


One of those positions where the Bishop is stronger than the Queen. 1 B-Q8ch!

Forcing Black to self-block his last free square.

Now Black can only move the Queen (2 .. . P-N5? 3 B-Q8 mate), but even it does not have free reign. It must stay on the second rank so as not to allow P-N3 mate, and keep an eye on K8, from where the Bishop can deal a death blow.

Creating the threat of 4 B-N3 mate, and keeping its eye on Q8 in case the NP moves.

The right place, from where it has the possibility of transferring to the KR4—Q8 diagonal. Black is now in Zug-zwang: any move leads to a loss.

Hoping for 5 BxQ PxB, drawing.

The idea behind Kaminer's study is by no means abstract and has occasionally been found in tournament play. Here are two examples.

Wachtel-Musiol (1953): I R-K5! and Black resigns, since after 1 . . . RxR 2 BxR mate by the Bishop from B3 (or B7 if Black plays P-N4) cannot be avoided.

Young-Szabados (1952): 1 BxN! RxR 2 QxRch! KxQ 3 B-B6ch P-N4 4 B-B3!

From this square the Bishop controls both critical points, K1 and B6. Black resigns, since he is in Zugzwang. The Queen cannot leave the second rank because of P-N3 mate and on 4 . . . Q-KB7 there follows 5 B-Kl, and on 4 . . . P-N5, 5 B-B6 mate. It is interesting how the study parallels the game almost "word for word."

Schlecter's (White) idea and combination against Meit-ner (1899) is similar.

1 P-N4ch PxP 2RPxPch K-R5 3 QxRPch! QxQ 4 K-R2

and mate by the Bishop on B2 is inevitable.

Mosionzhik-Gorniak (1969)

Mosionzhik-Gorniak (1969)

White s Move

Is the Bishop on Q4 good or bad?

Solve It Yourself

Gulyaev m

Mate in Three Moves

Eliskases-Berensen (1960)

Eliskases-Berensen (1960)

White's Move

A draw by perpetual check. But after 1 K-N4 Q-N8ch, why can't the White King go to B5?

21 23

Man-Papp (1962) Kubbel (1922)

Black's Move Win

Black's Move Win

The White King is trembling, It all happens in six moves, yet still holding his ground. But...

Geller-Tal (1975)

White's Move

1 N-N5. A retreat? Why didn't Geller take the Knight on K7?

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