Playing against the powerful bishop pair – Holiday Invitational Round#9

bishop pair

Battling the bishop pair can be tough. I had a slow start in this game. It started with me mismanaging the opening and allowing a pesky knight to land on my weak d3 square. I wasn’t lost but I had a worse position to be sure. Black had the bishop pair and was poised to control the pace of the game until he blundered with an ill-advised capture.

When you play an opening you are familiar with, in this case the KIA, never rely on memory alone to make a move. I instinctively played c3, as I always have, hoping to control the d4 square and then castle. What I never realized is that Black’s odd 8…Nd7 could create problems for me given the hole I created on d3. That’s exactly what happened. Keeping your composure is as least as important as playing well.

Dealing with the bishop pair

Paul H. – Chessmaster XI (Turk)
Ponziani Opening & Scotch Gambit [C44]
Holiday Invitations Round 9
30 seconds per move

Post-game analysis

Don’t force opening moves. I mentioned this in my introduction but it bears repeating. No matter how well you think you know an opening, calculate moves before you make them. Playing 5. g3 seemed natural at the time but this is not a typical KIA. Instead, the simple Be2 followed by castles gives white an equal position. My move gives an advantage to Black because I have a light-squared bishop with limited scope and mobility.

Understand thematic moves. If you plan an opening regularly, understand the keys moves that need to be made for both sides. For White, Nc4 is a typical move that needs to be played whenever possible. The knight not only hits Black’s e5 pawn but it also has the option of landing on e3 where it exerts nice influence on the g4, f5 and d5 squares.

Realize when you are worse. Once black had the bishop pair, I knew I was in for a long game. That’s ok though. There are times when you have to accept the fact you are worse and this was one of them. Remain vigilant. Do not get discouraged. As it turned out, my opponent made a poor capture and I was suddenly right back in the game.

Playing against the powerful bishop pair - Holiday Invitational Round#9

Just a few moves I would be the one with the advantage.

Activate your king. The reason I won this game was because of my superior king position. When Black played Kh8, he put his king further away from the center of the board. Once the major pieces are traded off, the king needs to start marching towards the center in preparation for the endgame.


The bishop pair is only as good if a player knows how to use them. The Turk personality squandered its advantage by trading off the wrong bishop, letting me back in the game. This brings me to a larger point. If you are faced with the bishop pair, try to either close the position or capture one of the bishops. Sometimes a rook sacrifice is fully justified (depending on the position of course) to limit the control of the two long diagonals.

This has been a long tournament. With only a single game remaining, I must remain vigilant and not let down my guard. Each chess game needs to be played with as much energy as I can muster. This approach will be critical once I start to play in official tournaments again. More on that in a future post.

I am Black in the final game. Will I pull through with another win? Let’s see.

What chess computers (if any) do you use to practice? Have you even played Chessmaster or any of its personalities? Please share by leaving a comment below. Here’s to Better Chess!

The bishop pair failed to stop me.
This was my seventh win a row!