Good Bishop & Bad Bishop

Bishops are very strong weapon in chess and in order to make its optimum use one must understand and should be able to distinguish between a Good and Bad Bishop.

Good Bishop & Bad Bishop:

1. A Bishop is a Good Bishop if it is an active piece. By active piece it is meant that its movement is not restricted by its own pawns or pieces.

In the following example d4 pawn is obstructing path making the Bishop inactive. However, in the next move by advancing pawn the piece becomes active

2.The central pawn also play a decisive role in deciding activity of Bishop. If a pawn on centre is on light square then it makes the light square Bishop Bad.

3. If Bishop is attacking an opponent’s piece then it is a good Bishop.

Here in following in the diagram given below, d4 pawn, a central pawn makes dark square Bishop a bad Bishop for white while light square Bishop is a good Bishop for White- point no.2
For Black, the light square Bishop is seeing its own Knight on d5. Hence It’s a Bad Bishop for Black- Point no. 3

By playing this move the Bishop on f3 its attacking Opponent’s Knight hence, it is becoming more active

4. If Bishop is attacking an opponent’s weak pawn then it is a good Bishop.(weak pawn is a pawn which can’t be defended by another pawn. ).Here Both Black’s Bishop and White Bishop is attacking weak pawn as shown below and hence are active piece.

5. If Bishop is attacking a pawn defended by another pawn then it is rather passive and bad. For example, here Bishop on b3 is attacking e6 pawn which is supported by f7 pawn. Thus, Bishop on B3 is a inactive piece now.

What to do if You have a Bad Bishop?

Following strategies should be implemented if you have a Bad Bishop:-

1.Try to exchange your Bad Bishop with opponent’s good/active piece such as Knight or Bishop.

Let’s see an example taken from book The ‘Complete Manual Of Positional Chess’. Here Black has a Bad light Square Bishop which is exchanged with that of opponent.

2.Try to relocate the Bad Bishop and bring it to more active diagonal

In the following hypothetical example, White has made an attempt to sort out his Bad Bishop problem by a simple rearranging/relocating it. And Black completely failed to foil this.

3. Sometimes a pawn sacrifice is quite useful in activating a Bishop.

Let’s consider a beautiful example where a simple pawn push by Black solves issue of his Bad Bishop

Note:- Knights and Bishops are pretty important minor pieces that play vital role in middle game. To know how to play with Knights one must understand outposts and to get better insight one may consider blogs on that.

Test Your Skill:- Following position is taken from How To Reassess Your Chess. Here, It’s White to move. Is it wise to play Bxd7?

Note:- The Answer can be typed in comment box below.

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