Bishop (chess)

What Is A Bishop?

A bishop is a piece in chess.

Each player starts the game with two bishops.

One starts between the king's knight and the king, the other between the queen's knight and the queen. The pieces are called either the king's bishop or the queen's bishop.

White starts the game with Bishops on the first row (to the left and right of the queen and kings). The starting squares are c1 and f1 for White's bishops, and c8 and f8 for Black's bishops.

How does a Bishop move?

Bishops can only move diagonally.

But a Bishop can move any number of squares on that diagonal (unless another piece blocks it).

Bishop’s captures an enemy piece by replacing it on its square.

How many points is a bishop worth in chess?

Bishops are considered to be worth 3 pawns.

So they are less valuable than a rook (which is worth 5 pawns), and of equal value to knights (which are also worth 3 points).

How to effectively use your bishop

Place Your Bishops On Open Diagonals

Bishops are long range pieces and work best when placed on an open, long diagonal (where the bishop path is not blocked by pawns or pieces)

Unlike a knight, which are most effective in the center of the board, bishops can be extremely effective in a corner or side of the board.

Make your Bishop a Good Bishop (And Not A Bad One)

Bishops are referred to as “good bishops” or “bad bishops” based on the pawns on the board

If the majority of the pawns are on the same color square as a bishop, that bishop is typically regarded as a “bad bishop” (because its movement and influence is restricted by the pawns)

Conversely, a good bishop is a bishop that is on the opposite color as the majority of the pawns (since it can move freely around a chess board)

Though a good bishop is generally considered to be more advantageous, a bad bishop can often be useful in defending a pawn.

Fianchetto Your Bishop

Bishops are best used as long range pieces.

When bishops are too close to enemy pieces, they can get attacked by pawns and knights.

Fianchettoing allows your bishop to control the long diagonals from the side (while also providing a great defense for king castling).

To fianchetto:

  1. move your knight’s pawn forward one square
  2. then place your bishop on the long diagonal

Get Active Bishops

Bishops that can move freely outside of its pawn chain are called “active bishops”, while bishops that are trapped behind its pawn chain are called “passive bishops”.

You want your bishops to be active because they become more powerful (active bishops have more flexibility and range)

Both “good” and “bad” bishops can be active or passive.

Learn How To Use Your Bishop in Endgames

Bishops are very useful during the ending stages of a game (especially with only pawns left on the board)

A bishop’s long range allows it to:

  • protect your pawns
  • threaten your opponent’s pawns
  • help promote the pawns you have left

Having an extra bishop in an endgame (without any pawns) is not enough to checkmate your opponent’s king.