Chess Fundamentals: Bishop Basics 

Let’s continue our discussion of chess fundamentals by diving into the basics of the Bishop. The bishop is an exciting piece that first took form as the hastīn in early forms of chess, a Sanskrit term meaning elephant. Originally, the hastīn’s moves were more limited than the modern day bishop, but with the benefit of being able to jump over other pieces (much like a knight!). Since then however, the bishop has taken on a different role on the board.


There Are Good Bishops, and Bad Bishops 

Let us start by saying ‘good’ and ‘bad’ here are little more than labels. A bad bishop can be just as pivotal in a game as a good bishop, yet it’s still important to know the difference. Chess fundamentals teach us that the bishop moves diagonally any number of squares. One of the big things that gets in the way of this movement, can be your pawns. A good bishop is the one that has the least amount of friendly pawns on its own coloured squares. On the other hand, if you have a bishop on a black square along with many of your own pawns blocking it’s movement, it’s known as a bad bishop.

These terms are fairly common. Although a bad bishop is not necessarily bad, it is less advantageous than a good bishop.


Active Bishops Are The Best Bishops 

An active bishop is one that can move freely outside of its pawn chain. Bishops behind your pawn chain are conversely called passive bishops. Fundamental chess strategy involves getting your bishops out in front of your pawns quickly. Active bishops are a powerful asset. The increased range and possibilities will allow you to use them to dictate the game more readily.


Bishop Versus Bishop

This is a very interesting, and a not-so-fundamental chess concept, but we think you’re ready for it! Oftentimes in your games, you will find that you and your opponent are down a bishop. You will quickly realize that if your bishops are on opposite coloured squares, they cannot confront each other.

In this situation, the bishops become excellent offensive pieces in the mid-game, as they cannot be defended by the opposing bishop. This gives the attacking player a material advantage. This changes in the endgame however, so it’s important to take advantage of this before the late stage of the game.

The strengths and weaknesses of your bishop are an important set of chess fundamentals to understand. Get a full understanding of these concepts with the help of our amazing chess coaches! We offer private lessons, school clubs, and group lessons. Get in touch with us today.