Guess what? It's now time to look at MINOR PIECE ENDINGS.


We'll start off by looking at a few CHECKMATES.

We'll start off with the TWO BISHOPS CHECKMATE.

This is a bit harder than the KING AND ROOK checkmate, but not TOO hard.

You can learn to do it!

The idea is to place your Bishops on adjacent diagonals and use your King to force the enemy King to the side of the board.

Then you use your Bishops to cut off the King one square at a time, and, at the right moment, place your own King a KNIGHT'S MOVE away from the corner where you're going to mate the enemy King.

We'll take it from this position and see if you can find the QUICKEST way to force CHECKMATE.

You can do it in SIX moves from here. Your first move, please!

The quickest way to win starts with Bf4-c7, to keep the King off d8. So Black has to play his King to f8. Your next move?

The same idea again: White plays his other Bishop to d7, forcing the Black King to g8. Don't forget to use your King as well.

The QUICKEST way to win is to play your King to g6. Now Black seems to have a choice, but both moves lose in the same way. Let's say he goes to f8. Your move again.

Now it's easy - a CHECK forces the Black King back to g8. What comes next?

Another check and the King has to move into the corner, letting you finish him off with...


WARNING - this is VERY HARD - just as well it doesn't happen very often!

What you have to do is force the King towards a corner square which can be controlled by your Bishop. So if you have a white squared bishop you must force the King to h1 or a8.

It's not at all easy to do this - we can't show you the whole procedure here but we CAN give you the chance to demonstrate how you can finish off your opponent.

In this position you can force MATE in THREE MOVES. Can you work out the first move?

Yes, White plays his Knight to c5 - because he's seen where it's going next - and Black has no choice: Ka7-b8. And now?

White's Knight check forces the King back into the corner, when the mate is obvious, isn't it?

Yes, of course. It's CHECKMATE.

It's not so hard to finish off your opponent - but not at all easy to force him into the corner.

Sometimes you can use the Knight instead of the Bishop to get checkmate, as in our next example.

This position sees a slightly different sort of BISHOP & KNIGHT CHECKMATE. White can MATE in 3 MOVES - starting with what?

Yes, the first move is Bc4-a6 to force the King into the corner. What does White play next?

Of course the move is Ba6-b7, setting up a CHECKMATE next move with...

Again, look at the CHECKMATE position to see how it works.

If you're interested, go away and practise BISHOP AND KNIGHT CHECKMATE, but, as I said before, it's not at all easy.

Now let's have a look at what happens with KING AND TWO KNIGHTS AGAINST KING.

Do you think that's a win, or only a draw?

With KING AND TWO KNIGHTS AGAINST KING you cannot force checkmate.

This position is about as close as you can get. Black is in check and has two legal moves.

If he's foolish enough to move to a8 he'll be mated next move, but if he goes to c8 instead he's safe.

However, you can SOMETIMES win with KING AND TWO KNIGHTS against KING AND PAWN. Let's look.

Here's an example. White can force mate in 2 moves - do you see how. There's a choice of first move here.

You get full credit for moving the Knight to either b4 or e1 - in the diagram it's gone to b4. Without the Black Pawn it would be STALEMATE, but, as it is, Black has no choice but to promote his pawn. So where's the mate?

Here's the CHECKMATE position.

Again these endings are hard to understand and don't happen very often, so you don't need to know too much about them.

It's interesting to know that such positions exist, though.

We now move on to look at some more KNIGHT endings.

This position's a little bit tricky. It's easy for White to go wrong and throw away the win. Tell me, what would YOU play as White here?

In fact the only moves that DON'T win are Nb5-c7, Nb5-a7 AND a6-a7+.

What White MUST NOT do is push the pawn to the 7th rank at the wrong time - such as now!

Black moves into the corner (see diagram) and there's no way White can win because his King cannot approach without STALEMATING Black. If you don't believe me try it out for yourself!

White can win most easily by advancing his King to c6 or b6 - we'll look at Kc5-b6.

Now if Black plays Kb8-a8 White plays Nb5-c7+ followed by pushing the pawn, or if Black chooses Kb8-c8 instead the immediate a6-a7 will promote.

Now a bit more about BISHOP ENDINGS.

Take a look at this position.

You'd expect to win easily with a Bishop and a Pawn against a lone King, wouldn't you?

But in fact this position is totally drawn as long as Black keeps his King near the corner.

If you don't believe me, try it out for yourself.

However, if you move the White Bishop to a dark square, f4 for example, White will indeed win very easily.


This information is VERY IMPORTANT - REMEMBER IT!!

Bearing that in mind, what do you think Black should play in this position?

Yes, Black can draw by playing Be7xa3, SACRIFICING his Bishop.

Now if White plays b2xa3 he cannot win as long as Black stays in the corner with his King.

And if b2-b3, Black will easily draw by capturing the pawn as soon as it reaches b4.

This isn't the only surprising thing about BISHOP ENDINGS, as you're about to find out.

Most endings with TWO extra pawns are pretty easy to win.

But endings with BISHOP OF OPPOSITE COLORS (that is, bishops operating on different color squares) very often lead to a draw because the defending side can set up a BLOCKADE.

This position is worth looking at. Do you think White, to move, can draw, or can Black win?

In fact this position is a DRAW, but only if White plays Be2-d1 - everything else loses.

If Black replies with g4-g3 White will play Bd1-f3 and just keep on moving his Bishop up and down the long diagonal. There's no way Black will be able to make progress.

The secret of these positions is to advance first on the OPPOSITE COLOR SQUARE TO YOUR BISHOP to prevent a BLOCKADE.

But in this position Black cannot bring his King round so that he can do that as long as the White Bishop continues to attack g4.

In this position, however, White can win because he can eventually bring his King round and force the b5-b6 advance.

Of course, if he plays b5-b6 straight away, Black will just SACRIFICE his Bishop for the two White pawns and claim a draw.

In endings with Bishop and two isolated pawns against Bishop of opposite color, the general rule is there are two or more open files between the pawns, they will usually win, but if there is only one file between the pawns it's usually a draw.

In this position, or example, White can win, but move the pawn from f5 to e5 and it's only a draw with best play.

In general, to win endings with BISHOPS OF OPPOSITE COLORS you need to be able to play on BOTH SIDES OF THE BOARD.

We'll finish by looking at a few typical MINOR PIECE endings to see who stands better.

Here's our first example.

In this position White has the advantage - and eventually managed to win.

The reasons - Black has a BAD BISHOP (remember? - it's stuck behind a center pawn on the same color square) and White's King is more active.

This time Black, to move, has the advantage.


Black did indeed manage to win in the end, but perhaps White could have drawn with best play.

This time the Knight is better than the Bishop? Black (Bobby Fischer) had Black in this position and managed to win, although White missed the chance to draw.

The reasons - again White has a BAD BISHOP, hemmed in by the blocked center pawn, and, with six pawns each, the position is fairly closed.

A few things to remember about BISHOP AND KNIGHT ENDINGS:

1. TWO BISHOPS AGAINST KING is a win - fairly easy. BISHOP AND KNIGHT AGAINST KING is a win - very hard though. TWO KNIGHTS AGAINST KING is a draw.

2. BISHOPS OF OPPOSITE COLORS tend towards a draw - one extra pawn is usually a draw and two extra pawns often a draw.

3. If you have a bishop, keep your pawns on squares of the opposite color. EXCEPTION - if you're trying to draw a BISHOPS OF OPPOSITE COLOR ending keep your pawns on the SAME color square as your bishop.

4. Bishops prefer OPEN positions with pawn exchanges. Knights prefer CLOSED positions with blocked pawns.

5. Bishops prefer positions with pawns on BOTH sides of the board. Knights prefer positions with pawns on ONLY ONE side of the board.

6. Knights are not very good at stopping Rooks Pawns.

7. Knights are good at attacking PAWN CHAINS from behind - WATCH OUT!

8. Knights - as usual - are not well placed on the side. Place a Knight on the side and a Bishop three squares away towards the center and the Knight has no moves.

You've now reached the end of your assignment.

You should now feel confident about handling MINOR PIECE ENDINGS.

Click on the FINISH button to find out how you got on!