Defend With Opposite Coloured Bishop against two pawns

Last thursday night at our local chessclub.

A player came to me with this ending. He had to defend with opposite coloured bishops. He had no pawns left, whereas his opponent had two connected pawns.

He knew, from somewhere in the past, this could be a drawn position. He lost however, because he couldn't find the right plan.

As a result, he was now convinced the position should always result in a loss. This was ofcourse the perfect opportunity to analyze the position. And so we did.

I'd like to show you some ideas. These may help you save your game, when you have to defend with opposite coloured bishops against two pawns.

Defensive Resources
Now, let us examine the defending mechanism in this type of positions.

In the following diagram you'll find the perfect defensive setup.

Black has to protect the e6-pawn. If the King moves away, white simply takes the e6-pawn.

Playing with the black bishop changes nothing essential in the position.

Playing the e-pawn to e5 assures an immediate draw. In that case white can start playing his bishop on the a2 - g8 diagonal and black will not be able to make any progress.

This leaves us the move 1....d5. And in this position white simply takes the pawn. After 2. Bxd5 the other pawn will drop as well.

Therefore we can conclude that this position is a draw.

Would this change if white is to move first? If you understood the above, you'll know the answer: it doesn't change a thing.

White to move can simply play Bb3 or Ba2 (see next diagram).

Now black still has no usefull move.

I don't say it's always easy to reach the drawing position.The King may not be in front of the pawns, or the bishop can't reach the defensive diagonal in time.

The peculiarities of a given position will determine if you can draw this endgame. You may have to tackle some problems. But I hope it helps, now you've seen what you're striving for...

Other situations...

In most cases where the pawns have already made it to the sixth rank, they will win the game very easy. There are some exceptions however.

In the above example, black can't make any progress.

After 1... a2, white simply moves the King to b2.

And after 1...b2, white takes this pawn with the bishop.

In this position the draw may not be obvious at first sight.

If it is white to move, he has to play the bishop. Therefore, as black, you might try1...Ka4. This protects the a-pawn, while simultaneously avoiding the check after Bd2.

Now the white bishop has to move..... and it captures the a3-pawn !!!

After 2. Bxa3, Kxa3 (if black doesn't recapture it's a draw as well) it's a stalemate.

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