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it a r t s u l

Knights vs. Bishops

“Is Your Majesty all right?” she asked with concern. “I thought I heard a moan …”

The King shook his head, smiling. “No,” he said. “My brother and I were just having another one of our chess, er, discussions. He left rather hurriedly.” She raised her eyebrows.

“My brother protested that, as well,

wondering where I got such ideas.” Silence ruled the room for a few

“We were discussing,” he contin-

ued, “Which piece is stronger, the knight or the bishop.” The King smiled with a look of mischief. “Which would you choose?” “I find,” she said, trying to be polite

and choosing her words wisely, “that when I have a knight, I would much rather have a bishop, and when I have a bishop, my game seems far better suited for a knight.” This was met with a chuckle. “My

brother was convinced that the bishop is always the better piece. In contrast, I put forth the notion that it depends on how well the pieces co- ordinate with the foot soldiers—the pawns—as to which is the stronger. It could be the bishop. It could also be the knight.” She smiled. “That is quite an egal- itarian notion, Your Majesty.”

moments. The King then set up a position on the chessboard.

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

-+-vl-+-+ +-+l+k+- -zp-zp-+-+ zp-zpNzp-zp- P+P+P+P+ +P+N+PmK- -+-+-+-+ +-+-+-+-

a b c d e f g h “We had come this far in our game,

when I pointed out that my brother’s two bishops were still no better than my two knights. To further my point, I played 1. Nxe5+ dxe5 and then 2. Nxb6 Bxb6 and then challenged him, with two extra bishops, to do any bet-

ter than draw against the ghosts of my knights.”

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

-+-+-+-+ +-+l+k+- -vl-+-+-+ zp-zp-zp-zp- P+P+P+P+ +P+-+PmK- -+-+-+-+ +-+-+-+-

a b c d e f g h

“I suppose he could not,” she said. “Indeed, he could not,” he said with


(The position in this story is based on one reached in the game Augustin Neumann-Aron Nimzowitsch, Vienna, 1905 in which White had a bishop on c3 instead of a knight on d3, but still demonstrated the draw with 51. Bxe5 dxe5 52. Nxb6 Bxb6).

February 2013 Chess Life for Kids! 15



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