The final game of the ten round Holiday Invitational took place on March 21st. It came down to a knight versus bishop ending that I won convincingly, save for a few innacuracies. manner. This was my eighth win a row, proving that the Turk personality (ELO 2038) of Chessmaster 11 is no match for me.
As I mentioned in a previous post, setting up your own tournament against a computer opponent is a great way to prepare yourself for an official chess tournament. Playing slow chess, writing down moves and keeping an eye on the clock are all part of the tournament experience. To be clear, my approach allows for “liberal” time controls where you can play the computer throughout the course of a day. For this tournament, the computer was given thirty seconds per move while I had no time limit. This is a fair compromise that balances a players availability with playing a long game.
Knight versus bishop ending
Chessmaster XI (Turk) – Paul H.
Irregular Opening [A00]
Holiday Invitational Round 10
30 seconds per move
Let pawns fall. Losing a pawn in the opening doesn’t always mean the game is lost. This is a problem with amateur players – they are worried about restoring the material balance at any cost. After 8.dc5, Black is fine. There was no need to be concerned about this pawn loss since it allows me to play e5 with a strong center.
Sometimes it is fine to let pawns fall so long as you can justify their loss. In this case, given White’s lack of development, the c5 pawn is weak and will eventually be captured.
Look for knight outposts. Knights should always find outposts, ideally in enemy territory. In this game, my knight had the option of landing on h4 or f4. From either of these squares, the knight would disrupt much of White’s mobility which brings up an important point: Always put pieces on squares that have the most influence over your opponents’ position. Knight versus bishop endings are no different!
Practice your endings. I can never write enough about the importance of endgame play. In this game, my extra piece was barely enough to win. I had to sacrifice a piece to get into a winning knight versus bishop ending. This could have been avoided had I found the centralizing move 42…Ne5. From there, the knight has control of the center and allows the king to start its march toward the center.
This was a fun tournament. I was happy that I could win the match by a final score of 8.5 to 1.5. This win was part of eight straight victories that happened after my loss in round two.
The knight versus bishop ending worked in my favor but I still need to work on improving my endgame play. The difference between putting my knight on a central square could have been the difference between a win or a draw. Endings are something every chessplayer needs to work on but minor piece endings are even more important.
There is an excellent book on this topic – Secrets of Minor-Piece Endings by John Nunn. It is a very technical book that is packed with deep analysis. A friend of mine once said that reading a book like this is “prison reading”, meaning you would need 20 years to life to be able to read through such a dense book.
This, like most chess books, should not be read like a novel. It is a reference book. If you are looking for specifics on how to handle knight versus bishop endings (appropriate given this last game), you can look at the Table of Contents and see that coverage of this ending starts on page 265. Since endings never change, this is a book every chessplayer should have in their library.
Well, that wraps it up for this tournament. I will continue posting individual game analysis along with some product reviews in the near future.
What was your impression of the game (or match if you’ve followed along from beginning) ? How do you feel about knight versus bishop endings? Please post below.