Opposite Color Bishops

Opposite Color Bishops

Another important element of the chess strategy is the presence of opposite color bishops on the board. Inexperienced players tend to think that every position with opposite color bishops is drawish. This common stereotype very often leads them to make small positional mistakes.

For example, simplifying the game to enter into an opposite color bishops middlegame/endgame without taking in consideration other important factors. In this article, we are going to show the main ideas to keep in mind when playing this type of positions.

Let’s review now some basic concepts that you should consider:

  • The initiative. This is perhaps the most important factor. The attacking side holds a lasting advantage and the chances to revert this situation are very small for the defending side.
  • The position of the kings. Usually, the side with the weaker king will be worse. An open diagonal on the castle, a possible rupture on the castle pawn structure are themes to consider when playing this type of positions.
  • The presence of queens. With queens on the board, the attacks become more dangerous, as we will see in the examples examined below.
  • Collecting new advantages. As in every strategy, creating new weaknesses and obtaining new advantages will increase your winning chances. This will make it more difficult for the defending side to protect both weaknesses at the same time. An example of this could be mate threats combined with a passed pawn on the opposite side of the board.

Considering the concepts listed above, we will now have a look at some games that will guide us to better understand how this type of positions should be handled.

The first two games we are going to analyze are two identical positions played by World Champion Anatoly Karpov, a real expert in this strategy. We will see the similarities between them and how Karpov employs the same pattern in order to win the games. He first sets his pieces into the ideal squares, same color as his bishop’s. Secondly, he carries on the rupture e6-e5 (e3-e4), opening the e file to infiltrate his heavy pieces. He combines this idea with threats against his opponent’s king on the b8-h2 (b1-h7) diagonal. In both games, we see how his opponent’s king is a potential target because of the weaknesses of his castle.

Note: In order to develop a positional understanding it is necessary to go over the annotated GM chess game, and to think why certain moves were made. Only when you put yourself in the the player’s shoes you will be able to fully understand the problems he was facing in the game and your will be able to improve you own chess. That’s exactly what you can do by studying our training course.

The next two games are examples of positions with queens and opposite color bishops. In this case, as we mentioned earlier, the position of the kings is crucial. The attacking side must try to create threats on both wings at the same time, making it difficult for the defending side to hold everything. We will see how, in both games, after white created mate threats against the black king and tied the black pieces to the defense of the king, he started actions on the queenside.

With these four games that we have analyzed, we hope to have shed more light on this subject, helping you better understand and play positions with opposite color bishops. It is important to remember the basic concepts, especially the initiative and the position of the kings. Those two factors seem to be the most influential in this type of positions.

Note: Openings are no doubt a very important part of chess. If you want to improve your general chess level simply studying openings is not enough. If you aim for a dramatic improvement at chess you need to work on all of the elements of the game in a systematic way:

  • tactics
  • positional play
  • attacking skills
  • endgame technique
  • classical games analysis
  • psychological preparation
  • and much more

That seems to be like a lot of things, and that is. But no worries, we have made it easy for you. Our comprehensive training course covers it all and much more. Sign up for 21 Day Training right now!

Ready to start winning games? Check out our store and articles:

Find this post useful? Share it?
Updated 12.19.2023