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bellepheron 43 ( +1 | -1 )
Knights vs Bishops Can anyone explain why many masters count a bishop as more important than a knight?

I can understand that having a pair of bishops in good positions at the mid/end game can be very powerful. However, usually a decent player can take at least one from you.

Also it seems to me that the 'hard to block' movement of the knight makes him more useful in causing discomfortto, and upsetting the plans of an opponent.

Any thoughts?
More: Chess
tulkos 6 ( +1 | -1 )
I would advice you to read How to Reassess your Chess for any questions on that line.
atrifix 70 ( +1 | -1 )
Bishops are more long range and generally better in open positions, especially in endings. To say that a 'decent player' can win the bishop pair from 'you' is pretty loose--unless one of the bishops has already been traded, there's no guarantee that a player can trade off a bishop, regardless of his playing strength. One of the major advantages of having the bishop pair is that the player with the bishops can often engineer a favorable minor piece trade at an opportune time.

Knights, of course, can be better, but they usually need advanced outposts to be effective, which can often be taken away by accurate pawn advances. Bishops, on the other hand, can function from afar.
tulkos 15 ( +1 | -1 )
In the ending, The bishops are better if there are pawns on both sides of the board, if not a knight could be more useful becuse it can go from one color to another.
bellepheron 2 ( +1 | -1 )
thanks for the advice.
brobishkin 106 ( +1 | -1 )
Bishops vs Knights... Of all the opposing pieces, the relationship between Bishop and Knight remains the most difficult to understand... When I first started playing chess, my Knights were forever getting pinned by Bishops and eventually captured... When I resolved to keep my Bishops and not trade them for my opponent's Knights, I was constantly victimized by forks... It is rather hard to decided which of these two minor pieces to prefer...

With the benefit of a few decades of experience behind me, I have chosen my loyalties... I prefer Bishops over Knights... But it still depends on positions, for there are literally thousands of positions where the Knight will be at least equal, if not superior, to a Bishop... That truth notwithstanding, and for reasons that are beyond the scope of this paragraph, the majority of the time, I will favor - however slightly - the Bishop...

Having said that, in practice, everything still depends on the position at hand... But I have come to the conclusion that Bishops are most likely better than Knights in most given positions...

komei 34 ( +1 | -1 )
Personally... ...I prefer knights. But it depends entirely on the position. Knights are generally better in crowded positions, bishops better in open positions. Also, knight forks and predicting where a knight may be and its possible attacks 3 or 4 moves later are usually harder to predict than for bishops (each of which cannot affect 1/2 the board...)
bellepheron 192 ( +1 | -1 )
All that is true, and very informative, however...

I don't know, in a sense I think bishops are more positional, and knights are more tactical.

I find it easier to tactically engineer a favourable minor piece sacrifice with knights (particularly with two working together).

I find it easier to control space with a Bishop (and particularly a pair) in good position - for example if they are 'fiancettoed'.

Also I think knights are a piece that you want to keep active, to threaten continually your opponent with new forks or unfavourable exchanges. This keeps them on the defensive.

Bishops on the other hand, excel if you can give them good lines of control and protect them from attack with pawns.

I like knights more because they are fun to use as a psychological weapon too... the fork 3 or 4 moves away is so scary and hard to calculate it can upset your opponents plan very easily.

Also Knights can sometimes be used to open a closed position through favourable (and unexpected!) sacrifices.

Since I like attacking, open games I enjoy using them this way.

I think one of the best things to do is in chess is to be very aggresive with your knights early, in order to upset your opponents plan, win a positional, and possibly a material advantage, and open up the game.

Because you are being so aggresive with your knights, hopefully this takes some pressure off your bishops. Having saved these for a mid/end game where the position has opened up, you can then use their range and power in combination over open lines to dominate the board and greatly inhibit the power of your opponents rooks.

Are my thoughts anywhere near the mark? and a second question - if you think a bishop is better than a knight - how often is it worth sacrificing a bishop for a knight to gain a small positional advantage...?
clemens 28 ( +1 | -1 )
bellepheron I choose to disagree with your notion that the Bishop is more "positional" than the Knight. After all, a Knight securely installed in an outpost on the sixth rank is one of the most favourable positional assets you can have as far as minor pieces are concerned, at least I think so.
brobishkin 19 ( +1 | -1 )
Bellepheron... I will have to second Clemens statement... Another thought is the Knight isn't the only piece on the board that can fork an opponent... Though the Knight fork is hard to see at times...
maca 30 ( +1 | -1 )
Knight Vs Bishop I like bishop more than knight, but it might
be hard to see becouse bishop reachess it's
full powers only in a endgame. If you prefer closed
positions, it'll be likely that knights are better.

furryfunbundle 364 ( +1 | -1 )
Ponderings on the relativity of Knights & Bishops I have pondered on this from time to time through my chess playing career and the various openings I have managed to confuse myself with during that time.

True, Bishops like space, true knights like… and so an and so. It has all been said here already.

And why is it not black and white? (Chess is a black and white game after all!). Probably because these statements are both true and untrue depending upon the position at the board at the time one tries to assess it.

And for me that is the vital and indispensable dimension that has to be factored into this discussion to move it forward. “Time” … Chess is about time, about tempi, about development, about initiatives about just so much more than the capabilities of a piece to hop over squares or race down diagonals.

The end phase of the game is perhaps easier to assess, it is generally the case that Bishops do like space and knights do operate well behind closed doors.

What about the Middle game phase? Much trickier to judge I think.

The opening and early middle game phase then? Easier to come to a view on I think.

I read a long time ago that where not too many pawns or pieces have been swapped then it is desirable for the player who has acquired the two bishops to look to slow the game down (ie close lines etc) while the player who has gained the knights will look to open the position up (ie open lines etc). Confusing wisdom (and iof course contray to common view stated earlier about bishops liking space and knights closed positions).

So, in the end game phase, this common wisdom stands true, but in the opening phase perhaps not. Why not? Why should the opening phase perhaps be different?

My view on this is that the "dynamics" (time/tempi) of the opening dictate the relative strength / weakness of the knight vs bishop. Each and every chess move is an investment of time. Move the same piece many times and one piece is developed. Move many pieces once and many pieces are developed. The dynamics of a position (at a given time) are reflective of the energy that has been infused into developing ones pieces and towards what goal.

Thus “winning the two “bishops comes at a cost… the cost of perhaps moving one piece more than once, perhaps at causing an undesirable change in a pawn formation. Whatever, assuming there is a cost, then it is natural to prefer to consolidate ( extra time to consolidate..) by closing the position down, closing down the hatches…

What of the player with the knights? Well, it is logical that he does not want to afford the time to the player with the two bishops to reorganise, to consolidate, to repair the position. If this is allowed to occur then (by our common wisdom) the strengths of the bishop will increase as the end game phase draws nearer. So, what to do? The player with the knights must press the game, increased energy, must take it to his opponent, must create threats, must force concessions, must exact a price for the relinquishing of the two bishops. How? By developing open lines to allow other supporting pieces to combine together to increase the "potentiality" of threat.

So, for me, it is not really possible to answer which is stronger or weaker… the Bishop or the Knight. It is just too “one dimensional a question”. I suggest it has to be aligned more to what are the dynamics of the position, at the board, throughout the phase of a game, relative to what “concessions”, to what “fixed weakness” have been exacted.
drgandalf 72 ( +1 | -1 )
In matters of technical advice I tend to defer to those 400 points higher than me. Atrifix (2140) stated, "One of the major advantages of having the bishop pair is that the player with the bishops can often engineer a favorable minor piece trade at an opportune time." That wisdom is something I, being a 1700 player, can use in my understanding of the game.

I think chess wisdom comes in steps. Relying upon the views of players 400 points higher will improve your game, while trying to understand the nuances of players significantly higher than that may prove self-defeating.

So, my opinion on which is stronger, knight or bishop, is not to rely on absolute truth, but rather digestible advice.
atrifix 158 ( +1 | -1 )
Bishops and Knights "I read a long time ago that where not too many pawns or pieces have been swapped then it is desirable for the player who has acquired the two bishops to look to slow the game down (ie close lines etc) while the player who has gained the knights will look to open the position up (ie open lines etc). Confusing wisdom (and iof course contray to common view stated earlier about bishops liking space and knights closed positions)."

This view is more fully elaborated in Watson's excellent book "Secrets of Modern Chess". Compare to, say, a gambit, where a player gives up a pawn in order to achieve a rapid development and gain of tempi.

But ultimately the problem is that Knights need advanced outposts that cannot be attacked by a Pawn, or such that attacking it with a Pawn would weaken the opponent's position in other ways. Practice has shown that if the player with knights sits around passively and waits for the player with bishops to do something, he'll get squeezed to death. So he must find a way to dynamically change the situation to obtain an outpost, which often involves opening lines (contrary to what most people learn as gospel). In general, of course, Knights prefer closed positions, and Bishops prefer open ones, but the most important factor is making your pieces more active, which often involves opening the position with the Knights and closing the position (to stabilize it and gain time) with the Bishops.
furryfunbundle 9 ( +1 | -1 )
Thanks for the reference I will certainly follow up on Watson's "Secret of Modern Chess" Many thanks
zoobrenok 38 ( +1 | -1 )
someone mentioned to me that knights are more of defencive tool while bishops are fo rattack -- this was comment about beginning of the game.

i could've walked away from this post, but i wanted to say 'Hi' to komei and drgandalf :)
drgandalf 2 ( +1 | -1 )
Zoobrenok Hi. Challenge me to a game.
bellepheron 95 ( +1 | -1 )
It is obvious that my use of knights, at least, is still pretty naive. Thanks for opening my eyes a little.

My new question is: is the creation of an advanced outpost the major tactic employed by expert players with knights?

It seems this discussion has resolved around this issue for players with much higher ratings than mine. However that does not seem to be the only useful way to employ them to me.

For example, for an attacking player it seems to me that looking to find ways to exchange them early in the game is a good tactic. These exchanges can be used to open lines for bishops, which are then exchanged to open lines for rooks to gain an advantage as one advances towards the end game.

This seems to be a logical flow for chess to me but, as I mentioned above, it also seems from this discussion that it might be a naive view. Can someone shed some light on why?
superblunder 148 ( +1 | -1 )
JOHN WATSON'S BOOK.... Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy is a masterpiece.

The best book on chess as a whole I have ever read. ANd I own about 30+ highly acclaimed chess books.

Though it seems to be written for very serious, experienced players. As Dr.gandalf pointed out, taking the advice geared towards experts and masters will probably hurt more than harm if you aren't ready for it, much as copying Garry Kasparov's openings will likely land you in trouble if you are not yet an experienced master. Garry plays his highly, complex double-edged openings in order to play for a win against players rated over 2500! And Watson gives very great, albeit esoteric ideas about positonal chess which will fly right over the head of the average player and confuse him/her.

WHne I was firts learning positional chess, I learned much more form Silman's books (how to reassess your chess, etc.) He gives great general advice about positonal chess and in a very clear manner geared towards intermediate players. one needs to leanr these "principles" and "rules" of positional chess such as the difference between bshops and knights and understand their application before going on to the advanced realm which Watson writes about, were top rated world-class grandmasters continually break all the positional rules all the while playing brilliant positonal chess!!!
superblunder 25 ( +1 | -1 )
I will repeat Tulkos' advice. Buy a copy of Jeremy Silman's "How to Reassess Your Chess." It answers all your questions about the strategy of bishops and knights and is written exactly for players like you who want to learn the ideas behind positional strategy in a chess game.
bellepheron 6 ( +1 | -1 )
ok, looks like a book i should pick up! thanks all