Mikhalchishin: Bishop against Knight

by ChessBase
3/16/2012 – Which of these pieces is stronger in the endgame? Nowadays players usually prefer the bishop, but that wasn't always the case. Chigorin and his followers preferred to play with the knight. The famous chess trainer GM Adrian Mikhalchishin shares this preference and tells you exactly why on this 60 Minutes Trainer, which you can download in our shop. Review by GM Hedinn Steingrimsson

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Adrian Mikhalchishin: Bishop against Knight

Review by GM Hedinn Steingrimsson

One of the most interesting positional themes in chess is how one handles positions where one has a bishop against a knight or vice versa a knight against a bishop.

Nowadays players usually prefer to play with the bishop. This was, however, not always the case, as for example Chigorin and his followers preferred to play with the knight. One can say that the Chigorin opening is based on this opinion.

The theme of the lectures here are positions where the knight is stronger than the bishop. Most players would think, that these are closed positions, but that is not the case. The main characteristic is that the side with the bishop, has a rather harmless looking double pawn, which changes the character of the struggle more than one might at first think. One has to admit, that the side that has the knight usually also has a slight initiative and manages to place e.g. its rooks more actively than the bishop side.

This theme – open positions where the bishop is usually stronger, in which however an innocent looking double pawn changes the balance in the knights favor – has not been covered much in chess literature. Very strong players will for this reason be able to learn a thing or two from this DVD. GM Mikhalchishin explains the main ideas very thoroughly, including Capablanca’s rules on where one should place ones pawns depending on the material balance on the board. He explains very well what went wrong for the defending side and shows partly his own games, both games that he won and which he lost.

I especially liked a game that he won, where he deliberately went for the type of position discussed in this DVD by exchanging his bishop for the knight. I also liked a lot the game Karpov-Kramnik which Karpov won in a very instructive way. Kramnik should have tried his luck in a rook endgame a pawn down, exchanging his bishop for Karpov’s knight. Instead Karpov managed to create mating threats with his rook, knight and king and eventually used one pawn of Kramnik, a black f6 pawn, as a blockade for Kramnik's bishop on the long diagonal, preventing it to stop a passed h-pawn.

GM Mikhalchishin is a very experienced trainer. He chooses the examples well, explains them in an understandable manner and selects a topic that is not too large in order to be explainable in one hour. I find this DVD quite good.

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