Two Opposite-coloured Bishop Endgames from Denmark

I have taken the consequence of having retired from professional chess. In the Danish league I now represent Øbro Skakforening, a Copenhagen Club I frequented a lot in the 1990s and even played for a single season in the second division. It has felt as my spiritual home for decades and now I have returned – with absolutely no funding. Actually I am the biggest amateur of the club, having paid more for playing the first two rounds than the rest of the guys will pay for playing the whole season.

In the first round I had planned to be Black against the Evans Gambit in round one against Jonny Hector. Instead our game started 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bf4 Bf5!. I actually got a decent position, though he failed to play 4.g4, but instead went for 4.f3. In the end we had our first draw in a rated game with ups and downs.

In second round I drew a bizarre game against Mads Andersen where the engines see everything entirely differently than us. I might put it in a later newsletter as there is some theoretical importance to it.

But sadly the games are not yet available on, as I wanted to give two examples from our match in the second round.  In both cases my team mates had great winning chances.

FM Søren Bech Hansen – GM Daniel Semescen

In this position Søren ruined his position by allowing Black to get into a well-known fortress:

1.b6? Kc5 2.Bxe4 Kxb6 3.Kh3 Kc7 4.Kg4 Bc1 5.Kf5 Kd6 6.Kg6 Ke7

After the game we looked at the position and I suggested 1.Be8!? as being the right way to play, with a point which we will see in the main line given below. At the end we contemplated if it was even better just to get on with it. It does indeed seem that White wins a bit faster if he does:


The idea is simple. The king comes up to help the h-pawn. There are now two options.

1…e3 2.fxe3+ Bxe3 3.b6 Ke5 4.b7 Ba7 5.h6 Kf6

This is what White was worried about, but 6.Be8! wins easily. The king wins the bishop on b8 after which Black will be in zugzwang, as well as generally lost.

We only had a quick look at 1…Kc5 thinking that White could win slowly. One idea is Bd7-g4-e2, which Søren said was one of his ideas during the game and in many ways quite logically. But actually White can win with direct play: 2.Bxe4!? Kxb5 3.Kg4 Bc1 4.Kf5 Kc5 5.Kg6 Kd4 6.Bh1 Ke5 7.h6 Ke6

8.Kg7 and White is just in time.

The other game started in a rather safe position for White. Black had a big advantage earlier, but had allowed White to escape into a drawn ending:

John Arni Nilssen – Carsten Simonson

If White does nothing, nothing bad will happen to him. But he exchanged pawns on f4, after which the position is rather trivially lost. Black won the a3-pawn (1) and went back to the kingside to force the white bishop to defend the h-pawn. Then it was time for the …a5! break (2), creating a passed pawn on the queenside and finally to return with the king to promote it (3).

All very instructive, I think!?

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