Opposite Color Bishop Endings

Opposite color bishop endings are bishop endgames where each player has only a Bishop, but the two bishops are on opposite color squares. Hence, the two bishops cannot attack each other, and they cannot control any of the same squares. These endgames tend to be drawish because the defensive bishop can blockade the pawns on its color squares, and the attacker’s bishop cannot remove the bishop from the blockade. Even an extra pawn or two pawns is sometimes not enough to win these endings.

Opposite color bishop endings are very different to “Same Color Bishop Endings”. When the bishops are on the same color, it is usually a fairly straightforward, logical winning strategy (albeit a slow and painstaking method). Same color bishop endings are rarely drawish.

Endgame Exceptions: Although the opposite color bishops endings are often drawish, they are not actually that drawish in beginner and intermediate chess. It’s a bit of a myth. It is quite possible to win opposite color bishops in situations where there are other advantages such as:

  • King invades enemy territory. An advanced King can be a huge advantage that overcomes the drawish tendency.
  • King supports passed pawn. If the King can support a passed pawn, while keeping the other King away, then the Bishop will be lost for the pawn.
  • Double connected passed pawns
  • Two distant separated passed pawns

Middlegame Exception: Opposite color bishops are not drawish in the middlegame. In fact, an opposite color bishop can be a huge advantage in an attack. The saying is that its like having an extra piece in the attack, because the defensive bishop cannot defend the same squares.

Related Chess Tactics

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