SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
”You can’t see it, but you should feel it – the power of the Bishop Pair in your games. If the position takes on an open character don’t give your opponent the two bishops. This means, don’t trade your bishop for his knight. You may not see any difference in your game right away, but in the long run two bishops are more flexible and far reaching and can control vital squares from behind the lines. And they are fast moving going here and there.”–
from ”THE POWER OF THE BISHOP PAIR” http://www.expert-chess-strategies.com/bishop-pair.html
Very wise advise. It has been known for as long as modern chess has been played that there is something magical about the Bishop pair. All of the world champions’ games feature this theme time and time again. What modern master has failed to make use of this same theme?
When I was a talented 22 year old IM, living in Montreal, I took a good, sober look at my play one day and I decided that — in order to progress as a player– I needed to incorporate 1.d4 in my opening repetoire. Being a very conscientious worker, I soon made a list of some 2 dozen grandmasters who specialized in 1.d4–to play over their games– and I began a very serious study of the types of positions that can arise from this first move.
I remember that what struck me the most was that 1.d4 games tended to orient themselves more naturally towards the endgame than 1.e4 games. ( I suppose when we play 1.e4 we want to finish the game in the middlegame!) And so I started a series of endgame notebooks (for my own personal use) that concentrated on themes such as Bishop vs Knight, Bishop pair, Rook and pawn endings, opposite colour Bishops, etc. I strove to become a master of the secrets of endgame play.
I still have these notebooks today, here in Portugal! (And I continue to use them from time to time in my research). The notebook on the Bishop pair is filled with hundreds of examples from Grandmaster play. Even today no specialized endgame book on the market can even come close to the depth, clarity and variety of what is found in this notebook.
Be that as it may, I have since always been fascinated with the Bishop pair! To see how an experienced master uses this theme to mold and shape a potential masterpiece fills me with artistic appreciation !
The following pretty example demonstrates a very unusual domination theme in Bishop-pair play in the middlegame. I can not remember seeing such an original use of the 2-Bishops. The game is GM Igor Rausis vs GM Alex Dreev, played in Tallinn , January of 2009. Enjoy!
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 20th MOVE:
Here the position looks fairly balanced, but this is deceptive. An open board is the play ground for Bishops. Dreev first strives to provoke weakness in White’s pawn structure.
If the White Rook moves to c1 then Black can play 21…Qd2 and 22…Bd4 with uncomfortable pressure building on the White position.
21. f3!? Bf5 22. Qc5!?
At first glance very logical, as it attacks the c6-pawn. However, it turns out to be a loss of time
22… Bf8! nice finesse!
If White takes the pawn on c6 then he loses a piece! (Black plays 23…Bxa3 and 24…Rac8) Or if instead 23.Qa4? then Black can exchange and play …Bc2!, winning material.
23. Qa5 Bh6!
Now if the Queen returns to c5 she will be met by 24…Be3ch
24. Kh1 Bd3! 25. Rfe1 Bd2!
The vertical power of the 2-Bishops! Black’s idea is to drive the White Rooks from the centre files.
26. Rg1 Be3 27. Rge1 Bf2!
Excellent play! After the exchange of the White Rook the back rank becomes vulnerable, giving rise to several tactical themes.
28. Rxe8 Rxe8 29. h3 Be1!
A reverse pin on the back rank. A very original position! Black now threatens to simply take the Rook on d1, so the Rook must flee and hide in the corner…
30. Ra1 Bf1! ouch!! How humiliating!
The 2–Bishops have lined themselves up on White’s back rank, with mate in 1 being threatened.
31. Qg5 forced
BLACK TO PLAY AND WIN!
31… Bh4! Touche!
White resigns! After 32.Qg4 h5! either wins the Queen or mates. And other tricky tries (such as 32.Rc1) simply lose decisive amounts of material. A beautiful exhibition of the power of the Bishop pair.
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS