Came across this position as part of some variation analysis of one of my previous games. To me it looks like a noticeable (though probably not decisive) advantage for white -- based on pawn structure and bishop over knight. Engine analysis however (Stockfish) seems to suggest a draw.

Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than me could resolve my confusion here to a degree, by commenting either why the game isn't likely to be drawn (ie the engine is wrong), or why I'm wrong in seeing an advantage for white when there is none.

8/1pk2p2/p2p1n2/2pPbP2/P1P5/1P2K3/4B3/4B3 w - - 87 88
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    If you think white is better, then you must have some idea of how you would try to make progress from here. What would your plan be? Jun 1, 2016 at 13:16
  • Good point. I guess I looked at what I wrote above (pawns, bishop/knight in endgame) in isolation, but didn't really work out an idea how to make use of that (supposed) advantage. Will give it some thought, then add another comment or edit the post. Thanks. Jun 1, 2016 at 13:24
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    The way I see it, white's white squared bishop can't do much because black's knight controls several white squares and the rest are blocked by pawns. If white wants something then it must be with either an immediate b3-b4 (before black can stop that with b7-b6 and a6-a5) or exchanging all minor pieces and using space advantage to win pawn f7, but it's hard to believe that either can work. Meanwhile black's pieces are on fine squares. Jun 1, 2016 at 13:31

3 Answers 3


It is true that White has a slight material advantage (the bishop pair vs bishop and a knight), but White's light-squares' bishop is confined to your side of the board and cannot attack any of Black's pieces. White's dark-squares' bishop cannot enter Black's territory or attack any of Black's pieces either, and your king has a long way to go to attack Black's isolated pawn on f7. Black's king can easily defend their isolated pawn and Black can further close the position with b7 (so White's dark-squares' bishop cannot attack Black's pawn on d6 from c7 or b8 and overload Black's king while it is defending Black's pawn on f7). It seems similarly difficult for Black to make any real progress towards a win, so in my inexpert assessment a draw is likely.

  • Thanks! Sounds plausible to me. Great point about the white-squared bishop being "confined" to his side, and the one square that's not blocked is controlled by the black knight -- which white has little hope of displacing. Will mark as accepted. Jun 2, 2016 at 15:15

My rating peaked in the low 1800's and I'm probably a good deal weaker now. I suggest, and there are probably many problems with this, that White begin with a5, follow with b4 and Ba4, then Bh4 threatening Bxf6. This is great as long as Black doesn't do anything in the meantime :)

  • Bxf6 is not much of a threat: the recapture leaves an ending with opposite-color Bishops and and matching pawn structures which must be a dead draw. Jun 8, 2016 at 17:13

Try to breakthrough on the queenside and you will notice that the knight is able to penetrate the white territory through Nd7-Nb6-Na4. The White King marching to his kingside can not reach the f7 pawn that is easily defended by Bishop on e5. Therefore, your try to breach on black position is easily contrarrested by Black with his Knight and White can not advance on the kingside. Using an engine as opponent you can try moves that can reach the 50-move rule with no pawn taken by either side. But from my essay with an engine I feel that white moves are difficult to chose to contrarrest black possibilities. I can conclude that this game is a draw for engines, but on an OTB the draw is difficult to hold for the player with the white pieces.

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