I have always been curious about how I can determine whether the bishop is better on e7 or on d6 playing with Black (of course when c5 and b4 are not possible or satisfactory). I will provide some games of mine: enter image description here

For instance, in this position the bishop has to retreat either to e7 or d6. The difference in the valoration is not huge but the bishop on e7 has a greater advantage for black (0.7) whereas on d6, where I think the bishop is more active as it controls the central square e5, the computer says Black only has an advantage of 0.4.

In this postion which is more similar to the point I am referring to, Black can choose both of the squares but putting the bishop on e7 is slightly better.

enter image description here

All I want to know is what is the nuance between them that makes the assessment of the positon vary a little. I have provided these two games but I would really appreciate advices for ANY similar situation regarding the squares e7 and d6.


3 Answers 3


In both diagrams, the bishop is better on e7, because the d-file is likely to become an open file, and the bishop would block the rook's activity.

The first example has the future activity of the bishop to consider. As the bishop isn't going to exchange on f4 or needed to protect an e5 push, its activity will have to come after moving to f6. Here it will exert pressure on white's queen side.

The second example has breaking the pin as a consideration. Without the bishop on e7, the queen would be tied to the defense of the f6-knight. If the pin remained, Ne5 would be a strong move as the capture is now more dangerous--providing another attacker upon f6.

As a general rule, the more squares the bishop can attack on the opponent's half of the board, the more active it becomes. However, especially as black, the more passively placed king's bishop is needed for other reasons, mostly defensive needs.

  • Yep, the potential of the bishop going to f6 and the fact that the bishop is doing almost nothing staring down that g3 pawn are the main reasons for e7 being the preferred square Jun 23, 2018 at 20:47

I'd add that the bishop on d6 would be restricted by white's pawn on g3 in the first diagram - whenever white has a fianchettoed king bishop, ceteris paribus, it's better to put it on e7 than d6


A bishop on d6 blocks Black's queen from protecting the d5-pawn.

A bishop on e7 doesn't block Black's queen from doing this. Also, the e7-bishop breaks any pins White may set up by playing Bg5.

In your first diagram, playing ...Bd6 might be met with c4!, attacking the d5-pawn and now your queen cannot defend it.

In the second diagram, you want the bishop on e7 to break the pin, allowing your queen to move away without having to take back on f6 with your pawn if White plays Bxf6.

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