Thursday, May 08, 2008

Knights attacking the Bishop pair

In general, I like to keep my bishop pair. But, a paradox, I also like openings that give away the bishop pair very early, such as the Nimzo-Indian as Black or the Sicilian with Bb5 as White. Thus, I have to change my mind and learn how to attack the opponent's bishop pair with my strong knights.

In my next two games, I'll be White, and with my bad results against the Sicilian I am going to look at this position and its resources for both sides.

diagram

White to move.

Black has the "advantage" of the bishop pair which is only minimal at the moment with all pawns still on the board, and the disadvantage of a double pawn. He also has lost tempo by attacking the bishop with a6.

White therefore is ahead in development and has got rid of his light-squared bishop which would be a bad one in this position. In contrast, the knight pair has very good perspectives with two main plans: 1) pushing e4-e5 and moving Nb1-c3/d2-e4 and 2) pushing a2-a4-a5 and moving Nb1-a4/b2-c4. Deep Shredder prefers the second plan, rating it +0.51 pawn units at 18 ply depth, but the first plan (+0.36) is nearly as good.

When asked which side to take I would take White in this position. Black has not a very easy game at the moment. He must try to open the position, trade pawns and keep his bishop pair in the endgame. White, on the other hand, has two excellent plans for an active piece play in a pawn-clogged position where the black bishops play only a minor role.

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