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Radoslaw Wojtaszek vs Ruslan Ponomariov
13th Karpov International (2012), Poikovsky RUS, rd 2, Sep-29
Gruenfeld Defense: Russian. Prins Variation (D97)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Oct-07-12  Everett: <Cushion: Bishops are better, except in really closed positions or some positions will nice outposts. Even if all of the pawns are on the same wing, a knight isn't better than a bishop. A bishop is better than a knight in the middle game,>

Well, I don't think you're right either. I do know that an early B for N exchange is a big part of such mainline theory as the Smyslov Grunfeld, and the Rossolimo Sicilian, oh... and the French Winawer, NID, yadyadayada... so oversimplify the comparative powers of the N and B at your own peril.

Oct-08-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Troller: But then, Q+N is generally better than Q+B in endgames.

The problem with a single bishop in endgames is obviously that it can only hit half the squares. Apart from that it has longer range and is normally repositioned faster than a knight. It can also win tempi. The bishop pair removes the deficiency of a single bishop while retaining the advantages.

But so much depends on the actual situation on the board; endgames are often much more tactical than technical.

Oct-08-12  Cushion: <Well, I don't think you're right either. I do know that an early B for N exchange is a big part of such mainline theory as the Smyslov Grunfeld, and the Rossolimo Sicilian, oh... and the French Winawer, NID, yadyadayada... so oversimplify the comparative powers of the N and B at your own peril.>

In all of those examples the side without the bishop pair has compensation. Saying "look, black gave up a bishop for a knight in this opening" doesn't prove anything. Often, people sacrifice one advantage for another. You could "prove" that the knight is better than the rook in the middlegame by listing examples of one side giving up the exchange. In the Najdorf, the Dragon, and the 4. Qc2 Slav one side often sacks the exchange.

In the Smyslov Grunfeld, black has better structure + tremendous pressure on white's center. If white can consolidate his center without his king being attacked, then he will win. In the Winawer, black gets structure, active piece play, and an attack down the c-file. If white can play a4 and Ba3 to activate his bishop, then he is oftentimes basically won. In the Nimzo, Black is able to create a closed position with white having doubled pawns that can be attacked. I don't play either side of the Rossolimo, but I do know that often times black ends up with doubled pawns.

Never does one side give up the bishop without compensation. For example, when black plays ...Ng4 attacking a bishop on e3, does white ever just let the bishop get taken? Never! On the other hand, when black plays Bxe3 fxe3, then white is often considered better because it is easier to play d4 and he has an open f-file.

Q+N is sometimes better than Q+B. However, if white has a secure king position that neither queen nor knight can penetrate, than Q+B is often better because of the ability to make batteries. It depends tremendously on the position, though.

Oct-08-12  Everett: <Cushion> thanks for proving my point: there is much to discuss and assess before claiming one piece is stronger than another, whether it be opening, middlegame or endgame.

<It depends tremendously on the position, though>

Precisely.

And then you mention <If white can play a4 and Ba3 to activate his bishop, then he is oftentimes basically won> ... In the French Winawer.

This is one of those rare instances where Fischer had it wrong. This method vs the Winawer does not confer an advantage and is not the most testing.

Oct-08-12  Cushion: That doesn't make any sense. No side gives up bishop for knight with no other advantages. In every instance you gave, the side with the knights had a lot of compensation. On the other hand, if one side can get two bishops for no compensation then a line is bad. If white started without his king's knight, and black started with his king's bishop, then white would have an advantage greater, not less than, his advantage in the opening position.

Even if that line is not the best, white's two bishops are still more than enough compensation for his bad structure and less active pieces.

Oct-08-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Troller: But then, Q+N is generally better than Q+B in endgames.>

I have read that (I think Capablanca said it) but is there any evidence that it is true?

I think there is pretty convincing statistical evidence that a bishop is better than a knight most of the time.

Oct-08-12  Everett: Yes, of course. "Compensation" IS the situation on the board, which basically translates to "the bishop is stronger than the knight except when it is not."

Further, If it is so common that the exchange of bishop for knight creates this "compensation," really how much better can the bishop be? There seems to be a awful lot of positions, not just openings, that the side with the extra knight gets all this play. Remarkable.

<If white started without his king's knight, and black started with his king's bishop, then white would have an advantage greater, not less than, his advantage in the opening position.>

What fantasy world is this? I speak of realities, a made up position changes nothing. Concrete examples lay bare (and false) the claim that a bishop is stronger than the knight, or vice versa. What stays on the board is what counts.

I don't understand why you are arguing with me. You seem to think the idea of "compensation" somehow shouldn't count in minor piece exchanges, yet there is no avoiding this aspect of the game, and it basically refutes any simplification of piece values. I mean, exchange sacs must blow your mind.

Oct-08-12  Cushion: It is ridiculous to count compensation. Obviously there are positions where the side that has a knight v bishop is better. For example, if one side has a knight and 3 pawns v a bishop then they are better. Does the fact that when you have three pawns and a knight v a bishop the side with the bishop is worse tell you anything about whether a bishop is better than a knight? No. There is the Bronstein Queen Sac in the Saemich which you could use to 'prove' that two minor pieces and a pawn are equal to a queen.

In the NID Saemich, for example, does it tell you anything about the underlying bishop v knight conflict that white has doubled c-pawns and black has a lead in development, or that white will get to build a big center? That doesn't matter to whether a bishop or a knight is better. You can't tell whether or not a bishop or knight is better through the NID Saemich because there are too many imbalances.

One way to tell would be to look at positions where one side threatens to take a bishop with a knight, and sometimes does and sometimes doesn't. Almost always the bishop moves away from the knight. If a knight is so much better than a bishop, then why the bishop always move when attacked (see closed ruy lopez)?

When in the english attack in the Najdorf, black plays ...Ng4, does white ever not move his bishop? It turns out the occasionally he doesn't move his bishop, and plays Qd2. After Qd2, black wins fully 50% of the games. The structure has not changed. After Nxe3, white has an even bigger lead in development than he started with. The only difference that favors black in the position after Qxe3 v the position after Be3 is the trade of N for B, and that is enough to allow black to win an overwhelming majority of the time.

Oct-08-12  Manic: <keypusher>

The intuition is that:

a) A Queen can move the same way as a bishop, but it cannot move as a knight

b) Relating to a), often the Queen can get in the way of the bishop in this way

c) Ability to attack all squares means no piece is safe

I may be missing some important stuff but I learnt this from a coach I had a while back (possibly a 2000 FIDE, or an IM, or a GM, I can't remember which one xD).

As for "evidence", well there isn't any that is irrefutable I would say.

Oct-08-12  Cushion: You could use statistical evidence to indicate that a Q + N > Q + B. Queen and bishop can make batteries.
Oct-08-12  Everett: This is much ado about nothing.

For everyone's enjoyment, I offer a game collection from a thoughtful kibitzer.

Game Collection: Bishop v Knight: the verdict (Steve Mayer)

As the above collection indicates, there are too many exceptions to any possible rule governing knights vs bishops. At best we can discuss some generalities, and there is no strong chessplayer who will play a series of moves or execute a plan based on generalities.

Oct-08-12  Everett: < Cushion: You could use statistical evidence to indicate that a Q + N > Q + B. Queen and bishop can make batteries.>

Hmmm? Not sure you worded this correctly. in any case, if this is the extent of your understanding of this endgame, I'm not sure you grasp all the elements involved to make a proper assessment.

Which is not surprising, as unless you have systematic training or come across some material to put you on the right track, it is rare to understand the very essential performance of pair of pieces, Q+N vs Q+B being just one. The first GM who pointed out this galaxy-sized hole in my chess was Suba, in an off-hand comment in Dynamic Chess Strategy.

Oct-08-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Where's the Energiser Bunny when ya need him?
Oct-08-12  Cushion: I believe Kaufman ran a statistical analysis and found that they were Q+B=Q+N. I was merely pointing out that the knight doesn't have all of the advantages.
Oct-08-12  Everett: <Cushion: I believe Kaufman ran a statistical analysis and found that they were Q+B=Q+N. I was merely pointing out that the knight doesn't have all of the advantages.>

Too bad statistical analysis can't teach people how to play chess.

Oct-09-12  Cushion: They can tell you that the correct evaluation of a material imbalance in general. You may retreat to "I know how to play chess", but that doesn't change the facts. There isn't even a consensus among strong players that Q+N>Q+B. Ben Finegold, I know, believes the reverse is true.
Oct-09-12  Everett: <Cushion: They can tell you that the correct evaluation of a material imbalance in general. You may retreat to "I know how to play chess", but that doesn't change the facts. There isn't even a consensus among strong players that Q+N>Q+B. Ben Finegold, I know, believes the reverse is true.>

Change the facts? Retreat? Compensation is a fact of chess, knowing how pieces work together is a fact of chess, humans duking it out without a computer is a fact of chess, and the relative values of pieces depending on position is a fact of chess.

Enjoy the last word and the game collection above. I'm off to play an interesting game rather than study debate styles and statistical models.

Oct-09-12  Cushion: Enough with your strawmanning and presentation of outlandishly biased situations. Compensation may be a fact of chess, but you should not look at the compensation when you are trying to determine whether or not a bishop is better than knight. If you are trying to determine whether or not a queen is better than a bishop, you don't look at a situation where the side with the bishop is mating the side with the queen, or visa versa.
Oct-11-12  Everett: <perfidious: Where's the Energiser Bunny when ya need him?> I just got this... thanks for the chuckle...
Oct-11-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett> No problem; it seemed the best thing at the time, what with some unpleasantness (since deleted) in this thread.
Oct-11-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: < Cushion: ....Even if all of the pawns are on the same wing, a knight isn't better than a bishop....>

Not true-this minimises the weakness of the knight vis-a-vis the strength of the bishop in most positions.

<....A bishop is better than a knight in the middle game....>

By no means is this always the case. There are numerous opening lines (some of which have been adduced above) where the opposite is true.

<....THe opening is the time until theory ends.>

How, then, would you account for such positions which result in the Botvinnik System in the Semi-Slav, some of the old main lines in the Chigorin Spanish or the following game (I Novikov vs V Tukmakov, 1984), which was preparation by White up to his 36th move?

Seems to me that we're well into the middlegame (or an ending in Novikov-Tukmakov).

Oct-12-12  Everett: < perfidious: <Everett> No problem; it seemed the best thing at the time, what with some unpleasantness (since deleted) in this thread.>

Really? I didn't catch the deleted stuff, which is all the better.

It just seems some people get quite glib with the rules, when they are just guidelines. I site a whole book talking about the N vs B imbalance, and someone thinks they can just summarize it in two sentences. It's silly, really. Botvinnik spent his entire life assessing minor piece transactions, considering it one of the most important aspects of the game. It is not a simple topic.

I'm going to dig up two endgame examples from Suba's update of his classic Dynamic Chess strategy, wrestle with the FEN, and put them on next post.

Oct-13-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett> John Watson devoted a portion of his work on chess strategy to the question of Q+N vs Q+B, and my recollection is that his conclusion was that there was no clear evidence of the superiority of the one pair of pieces over the other on general grounds. My copy of that book is packed away somewhere or other, same as most others, else I'd mention a bit more.

As an aside, <Shams> has posted a question on my forum which I've a feeling you'd better be able to answer than I; drop by for a look, now or any other time. It would be pleasant to get some discussion going there on anything chess related.

Oct-13-12  Shams: <perfidious> I hope <Everett> isn't too tired of doing the heavy lifting-- he's already given me many more words about chess openings than he has received in return.
Oct-14-12  Everett: <Shams> If my silly ideas can be of use to someone beyond me, I'm happy with it! I responded at <perfidious>'s forum.

I also responded to your post on the Larsen-Chandler '87 game, and posted this P H Nielsen vs Larsen, 1997

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