Which is stronger – Bishop or Knight? Let’s see…
Which is stronger – Bishop or Knight? Every chess player wonders which of the minor pieces is stronger and have their own thoughts regarding this.The confusion is even more if they are just beginning their chess practice. That is because they are both assigned a numerical value of 3 and hence the confusion.
A large number of players incline towards bishops and even some World Chess Champions like Fischer and Steinitz favored the Bishop over a Knight.
Chigorin stood out as a different player and preferred Knights against Bishops.
I am not sure if there were others like him. But I personally like to keep knights on board due to their unpredictable nature. My opponents usually misread the power of the wobbly knight and if one of the knights lands on the square d6 or f5 then usually the game ends in my favor.
To have a sample of each piece’s prowess let’s look at some games that highlight the same.
Sample game 1 – The Power of the Dual Bishops
Below is the well known known game between Max Harmonist and Siegbert Tarrasch in the Berlin variation where a large number of kibitzers and even Nimzowitsch in his celebrated book ‘My System‘ demonstrates this as a poignant reminder of the dual bishops’ advantage.
Sample game 2 – The Power of the Knights against the Bishops
And now it is time to witness the knight’s power against bishops played between the great legends Emanuel Lasker vs Mikhail Chigorin. It is instructive and worth replaying.
This game is a fantastic show of knight blockade, one would say after move 14.Bd3+- so Lasker must have thought, but some magic happened and Chigorin won!
When to prefer a Bishop?
When the position is open.
When to prefer a Knight?
When the position is closed.
Which is stronger – Bishop or Knight? To sum up –
Generally the Bishop is stronger than the Knight. But there are exceptions where the Knight is stronger than the Bishop and these are:
1) When the Bishop can be restricted by a pawn chain and
2) When the Knight can find a strong outpost in the center.
That is it for now fellow chess players. If you have any doubts or suggestions feel free to contact me.
The Author Kishore Kumar is a Coach at Golden Chess Centre at Nanganallur and conducts regular workshops and chess classes for children aged 5 to 60 !
The path to chess improvement lies in finding your weakest area of knowledge and placing all of your effort into converting it into a strength. My greatest weakness is an apprehension, bordering on fear, of delving into deep calculations and analysis. This analytical deficiency affects both my combinational and analysis in over the board play , and unless I work to improve these skills, any future chess improvement will be difficult. You tend to avoid or procrastinate working on your weakest area and this is part of the reason why you lack proficiency, since you do not exert the necessary effort in mastering the material that gives you trouble.
Strengthening Your Weaknesses
Whatever your weaknesses may be, you must identify them and apply great effort and patient focus to turn them into strengths. Here are some ideas in converting your weaknesses into strengths:
- Focus – Give all of your attention to your training, and eliminate distractions when studying.
- Practice – Practice daily, but create a varied training schedule that provides you with a fresh perspective every time you train. Your practice should revolve around material that address your weakest area.
- Effortful Study – Always give 100% during every training session, and do not hesitate to cross your comfort zone during each training session. Each session should build upon the last either in intensity or difficulty.
- Play – Playing allows you to transfer the knowledge and skills picked up in your training environment to real over the board play.
- Integrate thought process into your practice.
Discovering Your Weaknesses
If you are unsure as to which areas you need to work on the most the following tips might help you to identify the weaknesses in your game:
- Review your games with a teacher or a stronger player.
- Perform the Khmelnitsky Chess Exam to find your weak areas.
- If you are unable to find a stronger player or a teacher, go over a minimum of 10 of your long games. Do a first pass of the game on your own, and then have a chess engine review it. Determine why you lost each of these games, and create a training plan to address the top 1-2 weaknesses you discover.
My Training Modifications
- Spend 80% of my study time working on analytical positions that require both analysis and calculation.
- Continue my tactics study program.
- Play long games that allow the time necessary to work on my thought process as well as the training of analysis and combinational skills.
- Play over annotated master games using “Guess the Move” method.
- Use a physical board for the majority of my training.
Most of you may have experienced this phenomenon whilst playing chess – you may have spotted a beautiful combination like say a smothered mate and you did a quick cross check. You realized that this was your moment of glory and that you could after all play like Tal. Chances are – it may not be the best playable move. Who knows it may even be an outright blunder! When you see a Tactic… and rush headlong in it only to realize that it was a mirage, what do you do?
And worse is when your opponent has seen the tactic that you have just noticed, and also knows the refutation, that may either destroy your position or the game.
When you see a Tactic – Here is one tip that I believe all Chess players must remember to improve their tactical strokes.
Pause: When you spot a tactic, pause and visualize your combination. The time spent calculating is worth the wait as you will be playing in a winning position if your move was actually a winning one and if the move is not good then atleast your position will not deteriorate.
It seems to me that for most of the time that we see a tactic and quickly rush to play it, that we may have overseen something really basic in the calculations such as –
- The opponent has a subtle intermezzo or in-between move that causes us to fail in our tactical expectations.
- The combination can easily be refuted either by a counter sacrifice or a non-acceptance of the sacrificed piece causing a big change in the expected outcome.
- The move is easily and simply refuted, and results in a inferior position, one that is very easy for the opponent to convert to a win.
So when you see a tactic, remember this adage – “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. So my suggestion is to not rush to play it. Pause for a moment, and calculate the ramifications of the combination- it is after all a critical moment .
Chess is a very interesting game in that it is fully concrete. Therefore, chess has given a number of interesting experiences to the world. Here are Some really interesting facts about Chess
Some really interesting facts about Chess (that even I did not know!)
1. Did you know the number of possible ways of playing the first four moves for both sides in a game of chess is 319,999,664,000?
2. The longest game of chess that is theoretically possible is 5,989 moves.
3. The first chessboard with alternating light and dark squares (as it appears today) was made in Europe in 1090 AD.
4. According to the America’s Foundation for Chess, there are 169,518,829,100,545,000,000,000,000,000 (approximately 1.71×1029) ways to play the first 10 moves of a game of chess. Even a computer would find that difficult to digest.
5. The word “checkmate” in chess originally comes from the Persian word “Shah Mat,” which is often translated to “the king is dead”, although more accurate may be “the king is trapped” or ” the king is without escape” (Treadwell).
6. The longest chess game ever played was I.Nikolic – Arsovic, Belgrade 1989, which ended in – hold your breath – 269 moves. The game ended in a draw!
7. There are 400 different possible positions after one move each. There are 72,084 different possible positions after two moves each. There are over 9 million different possible positions after three moves each. There are over 318 billion different possible positions after four moves each. The number of distinct 40-move games in chess is far greater than the number of electrons in the observable universe. The number of electrons is approximately 1079, while the number of unique chess games is 10120.
8. The second book ever printed in the English language was about chess! Now that is really strange.
Winning Chess: How To See Three Moves Ahead (Bestseller at Amazon)
by Irving Chernev
9. The new pawn move, where pawns were allowed to advance two squares on its first move instead of one, was first introduced in Spain in 1280.
10. The first chess game played between space and earth was on June 9, 1970 by the Soyez-9 crew. The game ended in a draw.
11. An old puzzle: If you put one grain of wheat on the first square of the chessboard, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth, and so on, how many grains of wheat do you need to put on the 64th square? The answer is 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (approximately 9.22×1018) grains of wheat. That’s a lot of nutrition.
12. The folding chessboard was invented by a priest who was forbidden to play chess. The priest found a way around it by making a folding chessboard. When folded together and put on a bookshelf, it simply looks like two books.
13. Kirk and Spock have played chess three times on the show Star Trek. Kirk won all three games.
14. A computer called Deep Thought became the first computer to beat an international grandmaster in November 1988, Long Beach, California.
15. Garry Kasparov, at 22, became the youngest ever world champion. Ruslan Ponomariov was younger but he was not the undisputed world champion; Maia Chiburdanidze was even younger when she won the women’s title.
16. Some people are so good at chess, they can play against more than one opponent at a given time. In 1922, World Champion José Raúl Capablanca played 103 opponents simultaneously and won 102 of the games (with 1 draw). This type of chess prowess display is called as a ‘SIMUL’.
How to Beat Your Dad at Chess – (No:1 Bestseller at Amazon)