Bishops of same color endings: Bishop vs Bishop+pawn


Bishop endings are fairly common, and the following few positions contain essential knowledge for proper technique in these basic positions. Armed with a few simple kernels of wisdom, you should be able to play these kinds of endings near perfectly.

It goes without saying that in the following diagram the position is a clear draw, since black’s king is in front of the pawn and cannot be ousted by the light squared bishop. Black will simply lose tempo with his bishop for eternity-

However, even when the defending king is unable to get in front of the pawn, a draw may still be possible, as in the following example. Here, the defending king is in the rear of the pawn, and also has a kind of “rear opposition” vis-a-vis the stronger side’s king. The stronger side would like to exchange bishops, or at least divert the defending bishop from the crucial diagonals that control the square the pawn must pass over, however, as you can see, this plan isn’t feasible, and so it is an iron clad draw.

While same-colored bishop endings tend to be drawish, even when one side has a pawn advantage, it is possible for the side with the pawn to win in some circumstances. In the previous diagram, the weaker side was able to draw by using two different diagonals to hold the same square. However, if one of those diagonals is shorter than four squares, then this plan is insufficient, and the strong side should win by using the tactic of deflection, as in the following diagram.

So, the points to be taken away are

(1) if your king is in front of the pawn, you should draw easily by losing tempo with your bishop.

(2) If you can’t get your king in front, then simply approach the pawn from the rear, directly behind your opponents king, and use two diagonals to prevent the pawn from proceeding.

(3) If one of the two diagonals needed to defend is shorter than 4 squares, then the stronger side should be able to win by using “deflection.”