Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bishop Pair Strategy

This position was reached in an unrated 120 min clubgame, I was White, attacking a French defense.

(White to move)

Let's evaluate the position. 1. Material is equal, but White has the advantage of the bishop pair, worth about 0.5 pawn units. 2. No threats. 3. Both Kings safe for the moment, but Black has some deficit due to f6. 4. White has a semi-open b-file but cannot take profit at the moment. 5. Black has the better pawn structure, White has holes queenside. 6. Highly dynamic center with small space advantage of White. 7. Piece activity is a bit better for White.

Conclusion: White is better. The place of action is the center. One of his big trumps is his bishop pair. White should trade pawns in order to open diagonals for his bishops. The bishop pair must be brought to its full power. A second goal of pawn trading is to destroy the intact pawn structure of Black, diminishing one of his strengths and creating weak squares.

All this is in favour of a pawn trade move. dxc5 seems best because it does not activate the sleeping bishop c8. After dxc5 bxc5 Be3 Black already has a problem with a weak pawn. A second option is exf6 but this may be double-edged due to the open g-file.

And what did I play? 13. Bf4 ? misses all strategic goals, I just played my usual anti-french scheme of keeping the center closed as long as possible. See the game here ...


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