Let's say all the pawns are on one side of the board, either left, middle or right. (If there were two pawn groups far from each other, I imagine the Bishop would be much better than the Knight.)

So what are some techniques or rules of thumb for these kinds of endgames? (Are tactics the same thing as techniques?) All I know so far is what I gathered from Wikipedia and my own experience.

  • If you have the Bishop, an enemy pawn promoting on the wrong color is harder to stop, so try to deal with it earlier. But I have no idea if your own pawn promoting on the wrong color is easier, harder, or makes no difference.

  • A Bishop orthogonally adjacent to a Knight cuts off half of the Knight's moves (unless one of those moves is defended by another piece). A Bishop 3 squares orthogonally away from the Knight does the same thing.

  • The Knight is better when most pawns are on the same color as the Bishop. Apparently this is true whether or not the pawns are enemies or allies of the Bishop.

  • An edge pawn is harder to stop for a Knight. (Thanks to user1583209 from my previous question.)

What I'm really hoping for is a some kind of rule of the triangle or rule of key squares as they exist in King and Pawn endgames.

2 Answers 2

  1. In races when bishop can sacrifice itself for last pawn, it can stop one pawn for loooong time. Don't expect to build a knight bridge faster then the enemy king kills other side and promotes. You need rook pawn or two pawns (one to win a bishop, one to make a queen) for races. Good to have some idea about this rule.

  2. Bad bishop itself doesn't lose often in blocked positions, bad handling of it does. Have in mind you don't need to guard all pawns. In f4 g3 h4 vs. f5 g6 h5 you must often give up on a g pawn as you need to cut the enemy king and be active. The remaining two can be protected from active swuares. Be patient. You can also give up on pawns that blocks your king. In Kc3 Bd6 d4 f4 h4 vs. Ka4 Ne6 d5 f5 h5 the f4 pawn is very good one not to care about. Guard h4 with bishop if needed, guard d4 with king and control opponent's king. The f4 don't need protection as after taking you move king to f3 and use 1.) if your opponent wants to race. Otherwise just sit and wait.

  3. Surrounding the knight is used very often, often as indirect pawn protection. You would be surprised how easily the knight can be locked. On smaller areas killed, on bigger repetitioned to draw or just imprisoned with no way out. Imagine Bg1 Ke5 and enemy knight stupid enough to hunt pawn on b2. You win the knight after Nxb2 in few moves with Kd4.

  4. Knight wants connected pawn formation.

  5. Knight can stop last pawn only with king assistance, bishop can fight longer and against some pawns more in the center not far enough it can stop them forever without needing an assistance.

  6. Good to have an idea about elementary 1:0, 2:0, 2:1 pawn ratios. For example Kf5 Nf3 g4 h5 vs. Kh6 Bc1 is draw! Knight also has big problems helping h+f pawns to promote, here rules are more difficult and big precision and patience needed. Also Kf5 Ne4 f3 g4 vs. Kh6 Bc1 g5 is easy draw as you never lose g5 pawn. When you need to protect it, you are on h6, when Nf7 is threatening, you go to g7.

  7. If you are patient like a zen master and you can calculate like a computer, you can do miracles with bad bishop.

  8. Have in mind wrong bishop to rook's pawn always.

  9. On one wing both these pieces should be able to stop x+1:x majority to x being 3 and less. Not easily of course. Maybe horsie defending 3 vs 4 is lost with good corner bishop, but don't think so.

  • Your english is not clear in some places. What do "Knight wants connected pawn formation." and "Have in mind wrong bishop to rook's pawn always." mean exactly?
    – DrZ214
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 5:57
  • Connected formation - not isolated pawns, more closed position. Wrong bishop to rook's pawn doesn't protect promotion square. This bishop and pawn can't win against lone king.
    – hoacin
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 6:03
  • 1
    #9) "... Maybe horsie..." youtube.com/watch?v=5pk8HU52eRk Commented Jun 15, 2017 at 6:49

With pawns on one side of the board the Knight is usually better but keep in mind that maybe this is not enough to win the game. Some simple rules to remember are that N+P vs B is drawn as the bishop will be sacrificed for the pawn. The same applies for B+P vs N although this is a little harder to defend. Another rule is that B+ a or h P vs King where the bishop is of the opposite color of the promoting square then it is a draw if the king can get to this square before his counterpart. Another thing to have in mind is that the knight is also better if there are pawns on both flanks but the enemy bishop is bad(same color as his pawns). Actually, it is more possible to win good N vs bad B with pawns on both flanks rather than N vs B with pawns only in one side.

  • I've never heard that the knight is usually better than the bishop with pawns on the same side of the board, this seems like a misunderstanding to me. It's just that the bishop will often not be able to dominate the knight in the same way as it would if the pawns were on both sides of the board. But the bishop is usually stronger than the knight in an endgame if it's not passive, and the side with the knight has no clear way of just picking up pawns that the bishop is unable to defend.
    – Scounged
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 23:27
  • @Scounged Actually, it is. When we start learning about bishop vs knight comparison remember that bishop has the long range of course but the knight has control of both colors. With pawns only in one side the long range bishop advantage doesn't count for more any longer and that's why the knight is stronger. Although you are right that if there are no other pawn weaknesses then the side with the N can't pick any pawns.
    – cgss
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 8:56
  • A source on your claims about knight > bishop with pawns on only one side of the board would be appreciated. To make sure that I didn't just miss something obvious I checked with DEM, where your claim wasn't mentioned at all as far as I could see. The bishop is often very strong if it has mobility, and I seriously doubt that pawns on same side vs. pawns on opposite sides of the board will affect the bishops mobility greatly without further important factors in play.
    – Scounged
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 22:05
  • To be honest, I don't know what DEM is. But, I will search my books one of these days to provide a source to my claim.
    – cgss
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 22:19
  • That's great. DEM stands for "Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual". Normally I would've spelled it out, but I didn't want to have to restructure my entire comment due to excessive amount of characters.
    – Scounged
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 22:25

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