Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Pair of Bishops

Wilhelm Steinitz established his strategic elements of chess more than 130 years ago. One of those elements is the pair of bishops. Bishops are especially powerful in open positions when pawns do not block them. The pair of bishops complement each other because while one of them moves along light squares, the other controls dark squares.

Today’s example shows the importance of this element. And how Carlsen masterfully proceeds maneuvering in an endgame played in the prestigious Tata tournament in January-2022. GM Magnus Carlsen faced GM Fabiano Caruana in round 12. Despite Carlsen having an exchange down, his pair of bishops was so powerful that took control over every important square. Caruana’s rook-bishop pair was unable to defend.

The following diagram shows the position after Caruana’s 25.c5

With his win, Carlsen secured his eighth victory in Wijk aan Zee with a round to spare. He earned an extra win by forfeit in the last round vs. GM Daniil Dubov who couldn’t get back into the tournament because of a positive PCR test.

Thanks to this triumph, Carlsen became the most victorious player in Wijk aan Zee in the long history of the tournament. GM Vishwanathan Anand is behind Carlsen with five titles.

About the chance to achieve 10 titles, Carlsen said: “I’m very happy to get back to winning ways here and I also now got back to winning more than 50 percent of my A groups here, which is something that I was kind of thinking of a bit the last year. I didn’t want to dip below. If I do the same thing the next few years, I have great chances.

Covid pandemic heavily impacted that edition of the Tata Tournament and the most affected player was GM Daniil Dubov. He forfeited his game vs. GM Giri in round seven, because the Russian GM refused to play with a face mask. In round nine, Dubov could play but only after being tested and having a negative result. In round eleven, Dubov dropped out of the tournament because, after a new PCR test, the result was positive. Although a subsequent voluntary PCR test, requested by Dubov himself, was negative, the organizers came out with the following statement making clear that Dubov had no chance for playing on the last round: “Daniil Dubov tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. A second test requested by Dubov himself showed a negative result. The Dutch health authorities stipulate that in these circumstances the positive test result stands and supersedes the negative outcome.

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