[fen "r2q1rk1/pp3ppp/n1pb2b1/2Pp4/3Pn3/P2B1N2/1PQ2PPP/RNB1R1K1 b - - 0 12"]
[Startply "20"]
  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4 c6 9. Re1 Bf5 10. Qc2 Na6 11. a3 Bg6 12. c5

Here black's dark-square bishop is under attack. To my surprise, both Stockfish and the database prefer Bb8 to Bc7. To me, Bc7 is a more "natural" move and Bb8 builds a prison for its teammate (rook).

Why is Bb8 better than Bc7 in this position?

1 Answer 1


Why is Bb8 better than Bc7 in this position?

It's all about the a6 knight. It has no future on that square. It needs to relocate via either b8 or c7. c7 gives it a better circuit than b8 because it can then go directly to e6 where it would enable trying to swap off the dark squared bishop via Bf4. Black's position is a bit cramped and could benefit from swapping a minor piece or two, particularly if white goes for obvious queenside expansion starting with b4.

The b8 circuit doesn't look as good because it then goes to d7 and that's not a great square in this position and it still doesn't look to be anywhere great. Na6-b8-d7-f6 is only going to cause problems for the knight on e4.

Meanwhile it's not clear where the a8 rook belongs. An argument could be made for leaving it on a8 in the meantime from where it could later support an a pawn push. However the knight remains the main priority.

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