Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Tue May 23, 2017 1:42 pm

Nigel Saunders once offered an interesting opinion on this: this ending itself may or may not be worth learning for its own sake, but what it teaches you about how a bishop and knight can work together is also useful.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue May 23, 2017 2:23 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:Nigel Saunders once offered an interesting opinion on this: this ending itself may or may not be worth learning for its own sake, but what it teaches you about how a bishop and knight can work together is also useful.

Indeed. Or the simply fact of learning being its own reward and not needing any 'application'. An old fashioned notion, I know, but still a valid one.

One of the things I’ve found curious over the years is that alongisde the many documented cases of strong players not being able to find the solution over the board, you also get a surprising amount of average chessers claiming to have worked it out by themselves by trial and error. That’s a bit odd, don’t you think?


Anyway, after reading an earlier comment in this thread I set up th board with White’s K on e1 B on f1 and Knight on g1. Black’s king I put on e4. I took me 74 second to delver mate against a computer.

Two caveats:-

Firstly, I was doing it with nobody watching so no pressure at all
Second, I was doing it against a computer. As per earlier comments, that’s much easier than playing an actual person.


Still, I can’t remember when I last tried to do BN v K. Six months ago maybe. A year or more is perfectly feasible. What I did do was learn three key positions several years ago. Now I can reconstruct the technique without too much bother. With a brief brush up every now and then.

So if you know the technique I don’t think it is that hard really - and for sure it’s something that i would expect most strong players (though clearly not all) to be able to do very quickly. Certainly somewhere between very hard and impossible to do if you don’t, though.

Bottom line, I don’t think it’s that surprising that very strong players can do it quickly.

Ian Thompson
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by Ian Thompson » Tue May 23, 2017 10:53 pm

Jonathan Bryant wrote:One of the things I’ve found curious over the years is that alongisde the many documented cases of strong players not being able to find the solution over the board, you also get a surprising amount of average chessers claiming to have worked it out by themselves by trial and error. That’s a bit odd, don’t you think?
It could be, with average players, that their average opponents don't know how to defend the ending and make it easy to win, perhaps by voluntarily moving their king to a corner it can be mated in, instead of to one of the other two corners. That's less likely to happen if a strong player is playing another strong player.

John Hickman
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by John Hickman » Wed May 24, 2017 7:34 am

Closest I got was K+B+N vs K + 4 pawns (a, f, g, h). I knew I needed the B and N to round up the a pawn, but, with a little crowd gathering, also knew that what the crowd didn't know was that I didn't know if I knew how to do the B+N mate. By not know if I knew, I mean that it was so long ago that I tried to do it, I didn't know if I could do it in practice. So with a little relief, I gave up the Knight to stop the 3 connected pawns. Later, I found the original ending I had was a win. Well in theory. In practice, well .... so I decided to try to learn the B+N mate with the only objective of avoiding possible humiliation :oops:

Have tried various ... books, DVDs, online videos, but I think what's got it down off pat for me is the Chessable spaced repetition method https://www.chessable.com/endgame-book/ ... h-bn/2033/

Mike Gunn
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by Mike Gunn » Wed May 24, 2017 9:59 am

I learned the method in David Hooper's "Pocket Guide to Chess Endgames" (the so called "Russian method") and then used it to defeat an opponent (ironically Russian) at Gibraltar a few years back. He sacrificed a piece for my last pawn, obviously expecting that a player with such a lowly rating would not know the mating method (but I did).

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Wed May 24, 2017 12:40 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Jonathan Bryant wrote:One of the things I’ve found curious over the years is that alongisde the many documented cases of strong players not being able to find the solution over the board, you also get a surprising amount of average chessers claiming to have worked it out by themselves by trial and error. That’s a bit odd, don’t you think?
It could be, with average players, that their average opponents don't know how to defend the ending and make it easy to win ....

Could be. I’m not convinced it entirely explains the phenomenon.

Driving a key to the corner, even the right one, isn't trivial if you don’t already have a pattern in mind.

David Williams
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by David Williams » Thu May 25, 2017 8:47 am

I thought maybe I should practice this against a computer. After three moves the computer resigned. Easy-peasy.

Alistair Campbell
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by Alistair Campbell » Fri May 26, 2017 6:28 pm

There was some chat on this a few years ago here

David Kramaley
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by David Kramaley » Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:56 pm

John Hickman wrote:Closest I got was K+B+N vs K + 4 pawns (a, f, g, h). I knew I needed the B and N to round up the a pawn, but, with a little crowd gathering, also knew that what the crowd didn't know was that I didn't know if I knew how to do the B+N mate. By not know if I knew, I mean that it was so long ago that I tried to do it, I didn't know if I could do it in practice. So with a little relief, I gave up the Knight to stop the 3 connected pawns. Later, I found the original ending I had was a win. Well in theory. In practice, well .... so I decided to try to learn the B+N mate with the only objective of avoiding possible humiliation :oops:

Have tried various ... books, DVDs, online videos, but I think what's got it down off pat for me is the Chessable spaced repetition method https://www.chessable.com/endgame-book/ ... h-bn/2033/
Glad to hear that! Look out for more endgames on Chessable very soon :)
I study my chess opening theory on https://www.chessable.com

Nick Grey
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by Nick Grey » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:02 pm

Drawn this ending once - with lone king. And won once - in 35 years.
Ideally you want an increment of 30 seconds a move, know the arbiter will not intervene until 75 moves rather than 50.
Worthwhile practicing it with a human opponent and clock.

If only not to get a comment on the tournament's twitter feed that the next round is likely to start late because we have a game with N+B and does the player know how to win? Whilst having won I knew I was entitled to a break before the next round I promptly asked for a half-point bye and rest so that nobody else was delayed.

Nobody resigns early in a quickplay finish anymore and it is not if you can claim a win even when the position is winning.

I've not even checked if a change on this matter to the rules coming into effect on 1st July.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by Michael Farthing » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:07 pm

Surely the opponent can still claim a draw at 50 moves?

Nick Grey
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by Nick Grey » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:49 pm

Yes - but cannot wait until mated at say move 51,52 etc.
As I mentioned I have not even looked at the new rules from 1st July.
May even ban Magic Hats!

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Why you should learn to mate with bishop and knight

Post by Michael Farthing » Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:11 pm

Actually, I wear magic shirts. Look out for one on Saturday.

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