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Bishop's Opening (C23)
1 e4 e5 2 Bc4

Number of games in database: 687
Years covered: 1620 to 2022
Overall record:
   White wins 42.8%
   Black wins 36.2%
   Draws 21.0%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Wilhelm Steinitz  16 games
Gioachino Greco  10 games
Jacques Mieses  9 games
NN  16 games
Adolf Anderssen  7 games
John Cochrane  6 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
I A Horowitz vs NN, 1940
Denker vs A R Shayne, 1945
Greco vs NN, 1620
M Hewitt vs Steinitz, 1866
J Schulten vs Horwitz, 1846
La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834
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 page 1 of 28; games 1-25 of 687  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Greco vs NN 1-0221620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
2. Greco vs NN 1-0191620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
3. Greco vs NN 1-0151620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
4. Greco vs NN 1-0241620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
5. Greco vs NN 1-0231620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
6. Greco vs NN 1-0151620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
7. NN vs Greco 0-1151620Miscellaneous gameC23 Bishop's Opening
8. Greco vs NN 1-0211620?C23 Bishop's Opening
9. Greco vs NN 1-0171620?C23 Bishop's Opening
10. Greco vs NN 1-0261620?C23 Bishop's Opening
11. Greco vs NN 1-0191620?C23 Bishop's Opening
12. J Bruehl vs Philidor 0-1471783Philidor Blindfold simul, 3b LondonC23 Bishop's Opening
13. J Bruehl vs Philidor ½-½441787Philidor Blindfold simul, 2b LondonC23 Bishop's Opening
14. J Bruehl vs Harrowby 1-0261788CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
15. J Bruehl vs H Conway 1-0391788CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
16. J Bruehl vs Cotter 1-0331788CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
17. H Conway vs J Bruehl 1-0411788CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
18. H Conway vs Philidor 0-1461790Philidor Mixed simul, 3b LondonC23 Bishop's Opening
19. Sheldon vs Philidor 0-1311790Philidor Mixed simul, 3b LondonC23 Bishop's Opening
20. G Atwood vs Cotter 0-1321795CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
21. Cotter vs G Atwood 0-1281795CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
22. NN vs Allgaier 0-1181809UnknownC23 Bishop's Opening
23. J Cazenove vs T Hull 1-0231818CasualC23 Bishop's Opening
24. Madras Chess Club vs Hyderabad 1-0511828City MatchC23 Bishop's Opening
25. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 0-1391834La Bourdonnais - McDonnell 1st Casual MatchC23 Bishop's Opening
 page 1 of 28; games 1-25 of 687  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 10 OF 10 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-20-09  MaxxLange: or maybe that was the football slogan
Mar-21-09  chessman95: <FiveofSwords>

<You keep pretending like you think the ruy is obviously superior to anything else but I simply find in your comments the signs of a fairly neophyte player who clings to false ideas supported by shallow and naive assumptions.>

Look, I've presented several supported arguments as to why the Ruy is superior to other Open Games, and all you've done is responed by calling me <neophyte> and <obviously not a great player>. Continue to disagree with GMs all you want, but simply calling me names doesn't do much to convince me of your knowledge of chess. From the things that you've posted, you're opinion means next to nothing to me.

Mar-21-09  FiveofSwords: its hilarious, you think you have been elected the ambassador of the GMs...but the thing is I play and talk with GMs and better all the time, I dont have this delusion of the GM uberman. Trust me, even if there was some GM hive mind, you would have no idea what it was thinking, and as far as 'conventional wisdom' is concerned, this is coming from where? what book you get this from...and who do you assume is always right?
Mar-21-09  blacksburg: <chessman95> wise man says - do not argue with fools, people at a distance cannot tell the difference.
Mar-21-09  Everyone: <Everyone knows the various methods for black against the ruy, such as the marshall gambit, berlin defense, etc. and these are not refutable.> Hear! Hear!
Mar-25-09  ILikeFruits: i particularly enjoy this opening, i believe it's an exquisite opening for an amateur such as i.
Mar-25-09  Absentee: <FiveofSwords: but the thing is I play and talk with GMs and better all the time>

Like whom?
Besides, you don't need to be an "ambassador" for GMs to see whether an opening is popular at super GM level, and that speaks for itself.

Jul-23-09  muwatalli: does anyone play 1 e4 e5 2 bc4 nc3 3 f4!?
i have been studying the bishops opening lately, and am considering switching over and as an aggressive player am considering this line, any opinions? it seems like a slightly improved kings gambit.
Nov-06-09  Zombie Grenadier: I am a mathematician by trade so I feel I need to add some comments to what has been said before. Chess is a discrete game with full information so it has a solution. It means that with optimal play it can always be a

a) win for white
b) draw
c) win for black

The problem is we do not know which of the above is true. To claim anything of the above as true a formal proof would have to be presented. No such formal proof exists at present which is to say that chess has not been solved yet. Statistical evidence is not a proof (like to claim that most games are a draw). Agreement between GMs is not a proof. Statements like "theoreticians claim that" are not proofs. Given the nature of the game only the extension of the Nalimovs end game tables to the initial position of the game would constitute the proof. I am afraid that it is not going to be possible for quite a long time. It should be added that the fact that the optimal play exists for both sides in any position does not mean that there is only one optimal move in the given position. There may be more than one. An optimal move is any of the moves that GUARANTEES the optimal end result regardless of what the opponent will do. Of course, if the chess is a forced win for white then there are no optimal moves for black. But we could change the objective of the game: Each side tries to play as many moves as possible before the game is decided (this is what is done in practice anyway). Then the following thing can be claimed: there exists a minimal number of moves before the game can be decided and there are optimal moves for both white and black in any position (there may be more than one) which guarantee the achievment of the optimal result. So, even if the chess can always be won by white, black with perfect play can assure that it won't happen before move number x (the value of x is not known, but it exists).

Another point to make is this: From the practical point of view refuting King's Gambit is equivalent to solving chess. It is so because the ORDER of MAGNITUDE of the number of variations needed is essentially the same as that for solving the entire game. Any discussions about this subject are simply pointless. Nobody is going to refute KG, or 1.h4 or any other first one-two movements by White or Black in the forseeable future. Technically it is not possible as of yet. Maybe with quantum computing, who knows? The only considerations with choosing openings can be practical ones. There is no "theory" in chess to be precise. Theory proves things. Chess books only discuss things, to be precise, discuss the empirical practice of the best players. Neither more nor less.

Thus, a lot of the preceding discussion on these pages was perfectly pointless. I hope we can avoid this for the future. Let us discuss ideas but not talk about absolute truths. The absolute truth can only be found in Nalimovs endgame tables. As for now it is a very small portion of the game of chess.

Just my two cents.

Nov-06-09  KamikazeAttack: ZG very interesting post.

Nalimov?? what is that???

Nov-06-09  Zombie Grenadier: According to Wikipedia:

"Eugene Nalimov (born 1965 in Novosibirsk, U.S.S.R.) is a chess programmer and Microsoft employee.

Starting in 1998, he wrote a tablebase generator which included many different endgames. He received a ChessBase award at the ChessBase meeting in Maastricht in 2002 for his work.[1]"

In practice Nalimov tablebase refers to any database of precalculated optimal moves for chess endings. At present optimal moves have been calculated for all 6 pieces set-ups.

Such a database is available here:

Have fun :)

Nov-06-09  parisattack: <Zombie Grenadier: Just my two cents. >

And a valuable two cents, I'll be bound!

As a mathematician, what is the most reasonable estimate of the total number of chess games and related numbers you have seen? I know the space pales in comparison to Go (although both are staggeringly large), but I've seen many different numbers for both.

May-28-10  Cushion: The only reason for playing the bishop's opening at top level is to avoid the petroff.
May-28-10  Marmot PFL: <It means that with optimal play it can always be a

a) win for white
b) draw
c) win for black >

The trend for many years now has been fewer wins with black, but more draws. This suggests that with optimal play white will always retain an advantage, but without a mistake by black this will not be sufficient to win, given the drawing methods at black's disposal (stalemate, inadequate mating material, perpetual check and so on).

Aug-11-11  meppi: hello what do people think about the move 2. f5 against the bishops opening. i started playing it with very good results in club and tournament and online especially. here is a game i played as black with this opening as an example, can anyone analyze how the opening should be played after 2.f5???

1. e4 e5
2. Bc4 f5
3. Bxg8 Rxg8
4. Qh5+ g6
5. Qxh7 Rg7
6. Qh8 fxe4
7. Nc3 d5
8. Nge2 Nc6
9. d4 exd4
10. Nb5 d3
11. Ng3 a6
12. Na3 Ne5
13. Qh6 Rf7
14. Qd2 Qf6
15. 0-0 Bh3
16. Qe3 Bxa3
17. Bd2 Bxb2
18. Rab1 Bd4
19. Nxe4 Qf3
20. gxf3 Bxe3
21. fxe3 dxe4
22. f4 Bxf1
23. fxe5 dxc2
24. Rxf1 0-0-0
25. Rxf7 Rxd2 0-1

Aug-11-11  SimonWebbsTiger: @meppi

the only problem I can see is 3. Nf3 taking the game into the Latvian Gambit

Jan-12-13  Gely of the Horde: I have found myself happily stuck in the late 18th century with Philidor and his merry band of "first rate players" in London (hi <beatgiant> many thanks for your comments if you see this) and since the Bishop's Opening was truly the Truth back then I came to this Kibitz for some grounding. Fasinating discussion! Some thoughts and questions:

<It is true that most games that are won or lost are won because of blunders and rarely bcause of pure outplaying . . .> cf. Mar-12-09 <chessmaster95> in the Bishop's Opening Kibizing responding to <Octal>. Could somebody explain the difference between me making a "blunder" versus someone "outplaying" me? No need to split hairs, I'm not that good, just the obvious differences between the two at the extremes would be helpful.

A grandmaster (might have) once said something along the lines of not being afraid of ghosts, that if you can't see a clear and immedidate tactical disaster, play the move(s) you want to play. Does anybody know this reference?

Among other high level players, Lasker and Korchnoi were infamous for often playing objectively "inferior", or at least unpopular, lines with the idea that to play for a win they had to create situations where the tactical problems to be solved were beyond their opponent's ability. I have always suspected that the stunning and eerie success of Fischer and Morphy in their brief flashes of total dominance was the ability to find a question to put to their (talented) opponents that was beyond their current understanding. I would hazard a guess that this might also describe Kasparov in his prime.

Regarding whether chess is a draw or not, glancing though some of the postings of the formidable team versus world famous grandmasters (is there any other kind?) there seems to be a concensus that it takes about five "mistakes" on the opponent's part to force a win. Their definition of "mistake" involves errors too subtle for me to comprehend, but it implies to me at this point in history those at the cutting edge have an empirical (versus theoretical) belief that the game is drawn with best play.

Fine believed that the goal of White was to build on his initial advantage, and the goal of Black was to to equalize. A grandmaster (might have) said that the amount of knowledge needed to live up to Fine's expectations was beyond most players' ability and time, and that the goal of the opening should be to obtain a "playable" middle game, and preferably a middle game your oppenent finds less playable. Does anybody know this reference?

Feb-18-13  FiveofSwords: @meppi this is known as the catalan gambit and its fine. White's best response is actually probably d3 and then you will most likely get a sort of reversed bishops opening. Be aware that since white was willing to play the bishops opening he probably understands pretty well the source of black's coutnerplay as from a practical standpoint thats probably not so wise.
Feb-18-13  FiveofSwords: @gely
Im not sure your assesment of lasker or korchnoi are correct...they both really did try to always be logical..this attitude sounds more like the infamous player larsen who probably wouldve performed much better if he did not have that tendency.

tactics isnt the only way to win a game. People can make mistakes for apparently no reason sometimes...if you consistently just dont make mistakes you perform better.

Morphy was simply better than everyone else and nobody took chess all that seriously in his wasnt really a career choice for people. Fisher probably benefited from being able to study his opponents mroe than they could study him.

Opening knowledge is part of your ability in chess and although i know theoretically any opening i play could lead to a roughly equal game i do find mroe often than not that i keep an advantage as white. Nobody knows everything or can solve everything otb.

Sure, it seems pretty certain the game is a draw with perfect play and you can get an inkling of this with the study of endgames. Even endgames that look quite bad for one player could often technically be drawn with perfect play. Its not mathematical proof but its simply obvious to the intuition with some experience. The relevence of this is debatable since humans are incapable of perfect play.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

Bishop's Opening
1.e4 e5 2.♗c4

Aug-19-13  Amarande: Hmm ... not too much seems to have been said about 2 ... c6, which looks like an interesting move. 3 Nf3 d5! is logical, after which White actually does not win a pawn because he can't disengage his Bishop for the necessary tempo: 4 exd5 cxd5 5 Bb5+ Bd7! 6 Bxd7+ Nxd7 and the e-pawn is protected.

Thus far has been tried; however, this line seems to have not seen much testing, and looks to yield some interesting play. 7 d4 looks logical to break up the Black phalanx; if Black tries 7 ... e4 then White has the developing move 8 Qe2 pinning the pawn and allowing castling the next move (all means of obstructing the pin immediately look inferior; Qe7 blocks the B, Ne7 blocks the B and the Knight should be at f6, Be7 is too passive - the Bishop wants to be on d6 in this formation).

A test-run game led to the following sparkling gem, though, which suggests that the reason 7 d4 hasn't been tried is because it's actually not a bed of roses:

(1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 c6 3 Nf3 d5 4 exd5 cxd5 5 Bb5+ Bd7 6 Bxd7+ Nxd7 7 d4 e4 8 Qe2) Bd6 9 O-O Ngf6 10 Nc3(a) O-O 11 Nd2(b) Qc7 12 g3(c) Bb4(d) 13 Ndb1 Rae8 14 Bd2 h5 15 h4(e) Qd6(f) 16 Bg5 Nb6 17 Nd1(g) Qe6 18 Kg2(h) Ng4 19 c3 Be7 20 Bxe7 Rxe7 21 Ne3 f5 22 Nd2 Nd7 23 Rae1 Kh8 24 c4(j) dxc4 25 Ndxc4 f4(k) 26 gxf4 Rxf4 27 d5 Qf6 28 f3(m) Nxe3+ 29 Nxe3 Qg6+ 30 Kf2 Ne5(n) 31 Qd1 Rxf3+ 32 Ke2 Nc4 33 Rxf3(o) exf3+ 34 Kxf3 Rxe3+(p) 0-1

a. Natural, but further course suggests flawed: perhaps 10 c3 or 10 Nbd2 are better ideas here in order to ensure that the Q-side is secure.

b. The Knight of course finally had to move but 11 Ne1 may be better here. At d2 the Knight obstructs the Bishop and Black takes advantage of this quickly.

c. Not sure if g3 or h3 is better. g3 worsens the Bishop and weakens f3/g4/h3 while Black still has Knights, OTOH, h3 loosens the dark diagonal and Black has a DSB. The game may already be markedly inferior for White here.

d. Forcing a discombobulation to avoid loss of a pawn as c3/c2 are skewered, Bd2 is not possible and Qe3 is refuted by Ng4. Clearly suggesting White must find improvement on the 10th or 11th move at the latest.

e. Weakening g4 further against eventual Knight invasion, but what else is there? Otherwise Black plays Bd6 and h4 and the castle starts to crumble anyway.

f. This and the next move are to over-protect d5 against any White shenanigans involving Bxf6.

g. Gaining at least a tempo for defence (e.g. bringing the Knight to e3) as Black must provide against the B being caught, but it may all be too late.

h. In order to permit the Rook to defend from h1 if needed, and the Queen could hardly be allowed on h3 at any event.

j. This opening of the position is unwise; White might have held out longer by passive defence e.g. 24 Rh1.

k. Iceberg's point. All the avenues of attack are now open, and White's position slips and slides south into the sea from here on out.

m. If Rh1, then Rxf2+. The twin threats against f2 and h4 are not to be gainsaid, the text is a vain attempt to clear passage for White's King, but he does not get far.

n. An interesting crowd of White pieces! Again with twin decisive threats, this time Nd3+ and Qg3#.

o. Compulsory, as mate in two was threatened by Rxe3+ and the Knight cannot move on account of mate in two via Qg2+.

p. A pretty coup, dispatching the guards of White's Queen. White capitulated at this point - if 35 Kf4, then Qg3+ 36 Kf5 Nd6#, while if 35 Kf2, then Qg3+ 36 Kf1 Nd2+! 37 Qxd2 Rf3+ and mate next. Therefore, 35 Rxe3 is forced and the Queen is lost forthwith via Qg4+.

Apart from the notes to moves 10 and 11, I'm not sure how much room for improvement White actually has in this line - is 7 d4 actually playable, or has it been avoided for an actual reason?

Dec-24-13  FiveofSwords: Amarande, its actually much simpler than that...and most of your analysis is rather irrelevant. 3. Nf3 does not seem logical at all. If you would play 3. Nf3 then you should have played 2. Nf3.

Instead, 2...c6 results in a sort of tempo down reverse ponziani opening. Therefore...if you understand the ponziani, you should clearly see that 3. d4 is the logical reply.

Dec-24-13  FiveofSwords: you dont simply play the bishops opening because you want a random different move on 2. There is a point to developing the bishop instead of, say, 2. Nf3. They are a different approach.

2.nf3 is logical because it developes a piece with a threat. But experience and analysis has shown that the pressure on e5 is actually slightly less than it appears to be. Even with the bishop going to b5, if black plays reasonable moves, white never gets much meaningful pressure on e5.

in contrast, Bc4 creates no immediate there are more options for both sides. The f pawn and the queen have much mroe mobility than if white played 2nf3...and if white manages to get f4 in the pressure on e5 is actually far more significant than 2.nf3 lines....while also providing options of a fast kside attack with f5. Lines where white develops the queen to the kside early are also often plausible...such as 1 e4 e5 2 bc4 nc6 3 Nc3 bc5 4 Qg4!?...And lastly, it is sometimes useful that you have not committed the kside night as well...especially in lines where black commits his bishop on b4, the knight finds a better home on e2, where it is also less clumsy than 2nf3 for occupying the f5 square.

2. Bc4 and 2nf3 are different approaches to the opening and while both are logical...they are also different. If you play something like 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 c6 3 Nf3?...then you are refuting your own choice on move 2. Theres no reason to provide both white and black more options for move 2 and 3, and then suddenly play the move that would have restricted black more on move 2 while blocking the f pawn and queen. Its simply an inconsistent move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Interesting move that isn't in any game in the database is 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 <3.Bxf7+> Kxf7 4.Qh5+.

So white has sacrificed a bishop early. If 4...g6, 5.Qxe5 and black is down 2 pawns.

Even though white is up a piece, the thought of bringing your king to the center of the board must be a scary thought.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <Pengo: Even though white is up a piece, the thought of bringing your king to the center of the board must be a scary thought.>

Yuck. That doesn't rise to the level of coffeehouse chess. Anyone who couldn't handle that, you could play any opening against. Anyway, Black just needs to play Kf8, then d6 to secure the e Pawn and then start trying to trade Queens with Qe8 or whatever. It reminds me of a story I'll share on the Gregory Kaidanov page.

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