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Bad Bishops – Chess Endgame Masterclass – GM Damian Lemos

Here’s a scary fact: more rating points are lost in the endgame than any other phase. And that’s not even including the knock-on effect these painful late losses have on your following games.

But there is a silver lining – golden, even.

Master the fine art of endgame play and you will be on the other side of those painful losses, vacuuming up rating points like there’s no tomorrow!

GM Damian Lemos is here to help you play the endgame like a natural. In his new 8 hour Endgame Masterclass course, Damian trains you in the skills and techniques you can use in any endgame, as well as giving you the insider knowledge required to steer your unsuspecting victims into lost positions. In this exclusive free preview of the course, Damian focuses his attention on piece activity, and specifically the bad bishop.

It’s a key chess strategy rule to not place your own pawns on the same color squares as your own bishop (the exception for this is in the case that you’re on the defensive in endgames with opposite-colored bishops.)

Bad Bishops – Piece Activity

If your pawns are fixed on the same color squares as your bishop, your bishop’s mobility is limited – especially if your bishop is not outside the pawn chain. Such a bishop is called a “bad bishop”.

In most cases a bad bishop is unable to attack the opponent’s pawns which are usually placed on the opposite color squares. Therefore, the bishop is doomed to passively defend his own pawns. Even with equal material, such a bishop hands an advantage to your opponent – it’s almost as if they are a piece up, which at intermediate level and higher, is usually enough to determine the outcome of the game.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, it gets worse – placing your pawns on the same color squares as your bishop usually creates many weak squares on the opposite color squares which the opponent can use to create outposts for their pieces, forcing their way into your position while there is little you can do about it.

Watch GM Damian Lemos’ tips on how to avoid falling into this tricky situation with bad bishops, and how to make the most of it when your opponent is the one with a bad bishop.

Chess Endgame Masterclass – Bad Bishops

In the video, Damian examines a game from the 1920s between Reti and Olland. Let’s take a look at the opening phase, where we can see how moves even early on in a game can have a direct bearing on the endgame.

It begins with a Queen’s Gambit 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3 Be7 6. Nf3 0-0 7. Rc1 c6 8. Bd3, pretty standard moves so far, for the most part. 8…dxc4 9. Bxc4 Nd5. Black’s idea with this move is to start trading pieces.

Bad Bishops in Chess10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. 0-0 Nxc3 12. Rxc3 e5. Black is looking to gain space. 13. Qc2, a natural move. 13…e4. See the diagram on the left. Believe it or not, this move is already connected to the endgame. While Black wins space in the center, look at the bishop on c8. It is fair to say that this bishop is not doing very well, passive and unused on its starting square.

If we go back a few moves, after 8. Bd3, we can already see that the c8 bishop is bad. Look at the diagram on the right. The bishop crashes into its own pawn chain. Usually, Black might try …b6 and …Bg7 to activate the piece, or …dxc4 followed by …b5, …Bg7.

Avoid bad bishops in chessWith 13…e4, yes, Black gains some space, but the pawn is being moved onto a light-colored square, the very color the bishop needs to be open in order to influence the game. The bishop is stuck in c8, completely useless at this point, and potentially right through the entire game and right into the endgame.

Be sure to watch the video to see the rest of the game and to hear GM Lemos’ Grandmaster analysis.

Practical Endgames

Bad Bishops (and making sure you don’t have any!) are just one aspect of making sure you get a successful endgame. In his new 8 hour course, GM Lemos’ reveals the skills and techniques you can use in any endgame, and start converting those tricky positions into wins. Click here to get instant access to Endgames Masterclass with 35% off.

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– GM Damian Lemos

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