Adrian Mikhalchishin: Bishop against Knight

by Priyadarshan Banjan
2/22/2015 – Bishop or knight, which is the better minor piece in a given position? This question often decides the game. Adrian Mikhalchishin helps you to find an answer. In a one hour seminar, giving you the experience of a one-on-one training session, the renowned coach offers useful rules of thumb to treat bishops and knights the right way. Entertaining, instructive, helpful.

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Adrian Mikhalchishin: Bishop against Knight - A Review

Proper chess coaching is imperative for helping you improve your chess. Having a personal coach to guide us improve a specific area of our game is a sure method to improve your chess. However, for an improving player – especially adults – time and costs prove to be deterrents that do not allow them to hire a coach. Mindlessly playing tournaments while repeating the same mistakes in your games will take you nowhere – as I learnt bitterly in my own games.

Bishop against Knight by Adrian Mikhalchishin is a middle-game Fritztrainer in the ChessBase 60 minutes series and aims to pass on the technique of exchanging minor pieces - in sixty minutes and for little money. Studying this DVD is similar to having a one-on-one session with a grandmaster.

Each minor piece has a unique power and FIDE Senior Trainer Mikhalchishin, who was born and learned chess in the Soviet Union will help you understand them. Mikhalchishin has amongst others trained the Polgar sisters, Ivanchuk, Beliavsky, etc. and is a fountain of classical chess knowledge.

FIDE Senior Trainer Adrian Mikhalchishin

The lectures in the DVD are divided into ten video segments where Mikhalchishin discusses the value of bishops and knights in different positions. He kicks off by educating the student on the differing schools of thought in regard to the value of bishops and knights. According to him, the Russian school liked knights a little more than bishops.

His method of teaching is instructive: He formulates a
rule of thumb – a ‘piece of knowledge’ – which he
validates by discussing examples.

Zaichik-Mikhalchishin, Riga, 1975. Black to move; what would you play?

In the very first segment of the video, Mikhalchishin shows an example from his own games. In the position in the diagram above he was happy to plunk the bishop on d4 and to support it with 23….c5 – which looks like a reasonable idea. But Mikhalchishin ran into unexpected trouble and lost the game. In an engaging tone, he reminisces how Grandmaster Eduard Gufeld came to his board and feigned surprise how someone could lose despite having the dragon bishop – a piece which Gufeld loved so much that he would kiss it every time it got exchanged in his own games! Then Tigran Petrosian walked up to the board and reprimanded Mikhalchishin for listening to Gufeld! Petrosian claimed that Black is technically lost after 23….c5 because he broke Capablanca’s rule.

Now Mikhalchishin goes on to explain this rule, and shows that Black should not move the pawn to c5, where it is on a black square and hampers the bishop. Instead Black should play 23….Rfd8 and leave the pawn on c6.

With such enchanting stories which Mikhalchishin backs up by his colourful personality, studying these endgames becomes truly enjoyable. And the stories make the rules easier to remember. This was the first time I had heard of Capablanca’s rule and I am sure I will keep this valuable piece of knowledge in mind. Here’s another example in which Mikhalchishin first puts forward the rule of thumb and then shores it up with a relevant position.

Mikhalchishin-Chernin, Cienfuegos, 1981: White to play

How to evaluate this position? Mikhalchishin explains that in structures in which one side has doubled pawns the side with knight is often better. Knowing this Mikhalchishin played 16.Bxf6! and went on to win easily.

I for one did not even come close to imagining parting with the bishop g5 and I was not the only one – as Mikhalchishin explained he showed this position many of his students and only a few wanted to exchange their bishop against the knight on f6! An example to remember.

These examples show how important it is to remember that pawns and pieces form a team, and Mikhalchishin shows you where your pawns support its minor piece best, and vice versa. The way he explains the rivalry between bishop and knight makes you want to test your new knowledge in your own games soon.

Mikhalchishin uses examples from his own games but also shows games of World Champions such as Smyslov, Karpov, Kramnik, Petrosian, Tal, and Fischer. But no matter what player, Mikhalchishin’s effective teaching approach of first presenting a rule of thumb and then analyzing concrete examples makes this DVD entertaining and instructive.

Conclusion: This DVD offers you a number of valuable lessons about one of the most important aspects in middle- and endgames. In a one-hour session with a top-level trainer you get a lot of advice that will help you win many games and that does not dent the pocket – recommended.

Sample video


Adrian Mikhalchisihin: Bishop against Knight


This DVD can be downloaded directly from the Internet.

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Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.


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