Bishop Ending

In a rapid game, with very little time left, the following position was reached.

My opponent, with only one minute left (I had two minutes left), offered a draw (his last move was 1...b6;).

Now, if you're White and you had the move, would you accept a draw? 

I saw no immediate reason to do so.

I would have accepted the offer if it would guarantee the win of the tournament. Unfortunately this wasn't the case. I wasn't short on time either, so I had to assess the position. 

Let's take a closer look at the position.

There are some things worth noticing.

- Material is even.

- The bishops are bishops of the same color.

- The pawns are blocked.

- The black pawns are on the dark squares, the color of the bishops.

- The white pawns are on the light squares.

- There are no gateways for the kings.

- The black king is on the kingside, while the white king is on the queenside.

It's easy now to come up with the wrong conclusion.

Reasoning could go like this:

The blocked position looks like a draw, as the kings can't penetrate into the enemy position. Black has no targets, as all the white pawns are on the light squares. White has no targets, because all the black pawns are protected. Therefore I'll take the draw. 

And although this looks like the right conclusion, it's really wrong.

The reasoning is sound, but the facts where not all right.

The idea that White has no targets is wrong.

So, why is this wrong? What are White's targets?

The black pawns are fixed on the color of the bishop. This turns them into targets for your bishop.

It doesn't mean you're winning yet. You have to find a way to use the targets. 

So, how can you use the targets...? 

If you combine this question with the idea of a pawn break, you might find the right idea.

I played 2.Ba5 here.

The black king is not a good defender, he's too far away.

If Black takes the bishop, the b5-pawn will promote (remember the rule of the square?).

If Black doesn't take the bishop, the b6-pawn will fall. This happened in the game. 

After 2...Kf7; 3. Bxb6, 

White has won a solid pawn and created a passed pawn, while the other black pawns are still targets.

This is enough to win the game (play the king to a6, bishop to a7 and the b5-pawn will promote).

Conclusion

In a bishop ending with bishops of the same color, don't put your pawns on the squares of your bishop.

Fix the opponent's pawns on the color of the bishops.

As soon as the pawns are targets, look for a winning idea.

In closed positions like the above, look for pawn breaks.


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