Chess is a game of intricate strategies and tactics. The board is a battlefield, the pieces are soldiers, and it’s your job to outmaneuver your opponent. The bishop can be one of the most useful pieces for this task. Each player gets two bishops, one on a white square and one on a black square, and throughout the entirety of the game, those bishops will be fixed to those colors because they can only move diagonally. In this article, we’ll go in depth on how the bishop is used in chess.
Last Updated: June 24th, 2022
Edited the strengths and weaknesses sections to be more clear.
Moving your bishops towards the center of the board is ideal and best practice. Reason being, in the middle of the 64 squares, your bishop is able to defend or attack in many more spaces diagonally than it would otherwise be able to do if it were in a corner of the board.
General Strategy and Principles
In general, there are some principles to guide you on how to use bishops in your strategy. However, like all Chess Principles, they can be broken and should not always be followed 100% of the time. The answer always depends on what your opponent plays.
The Bishop is worth 3 points, equal to the knight which is also worth 3 points. Which means trading a Bishop for an enemy Knight would be a fair exchange in general. Giving up a Bishop for an enemy pawn wouldn’t be an advantageous trade.
How Bishops Move
Bishops move diagonally, and therefore can only attack diagonally. They can move across the entire length of the board in a single move, making them extremely powerful. Also, unlike other pieces, they don’t have to be right next to an enemy before attacking them. As long as an enemy is in a bishop’s line of site, without any obstacles from that bishop’s same team, then it can go ahead and initiate the attack.
1. The Bishop is a powerful combination with The Rook
The bishop can be a powerful asset in chess because it’s a combination piece with the rook. The bishop is one of the only pieces in chess that can attack diagonally, which makes it extremely useful for attacking every player on the board. Additionally, the rook can attack at any distance either up and down or left to right. By using the rook and the bishop together, they can easily box certain enemy players in, and even put the king in a state of check.
2. Bishops work well with pawns
Pawns are a great supporting asset to have behind your bishop, as they can create a sturdy defensive wall that can only be passed if the enemy player is able to eliminate the bishop that is guarding it.
3. The bishop can attack from one side of the board to the other
Bishops aren’t just able to attack diagonally, but they can also attack from one end of the board to the other. The bishop can go all the way across the board without missing a step. That’s quite the valuable asset when trying to get your king out of check.
1. Bishops Can Be Easily Blocked
While the bishop may be able to attack from one side of the board to the other, it’s extremely vulnerable to enemy attack because it can only move diagonally. It’s quite easy for a player on the opposite team to block a bishop’s path and keep it locked in one place, keeping it from being useful.
2. Bishops are Weak on Their Own
A very common scenario where a bishop is useless can be when you have one on one side of the board and there’s an enemy piece that’s directly adjacent to it. Because bishops can only move diagonally, it’s hard for them to defend themselves from non-diagonal sides, which means almost all pieces can position themselves in a way to easily defeat them.
3. Bishops Can Be Easily Outmaneuvered
If a bishop is on one side of the board and it’s counterpart is on the other, then that means a player can easily avoid getting hit because they only have to move their piece horizontally or vertically. Therefore, bishops are much more easily outmaneuvered than pieces such as rooks or knights.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Bishops jump over pieces?
A Bishop cannot jump over pieces like the Knight can. However, the Bishop can move as many squares as you want it to move on its designated diagonal color.
Why is the Bishop called the Elephant?
The Bishop is called the Elephant in Russian. The British renamed the piece because they thought the “tusks” at the top resembles the tusks of a mitre. In India, the Bishop piece is called a “camel”.
Why does the Bishop have a cut?
The “bishop” is not a priest, but it stands for a war elephant – hence the piece is shaped like the elephant’s trunk, and the slash is the opening.
Should you trade a Bishop for a Rook?
In general, you should trade a Bishop for an enemy Rook because the Bishop is worth 3 points and a Rook is worth 5 points. There are always scenarios where these general principles shouldn’t be followed, but generally should be followed.
Which color Bishop is better?
The light squared Bishop isn’t better or worse than the dark squares Bishop, and vice-versa. This does depend on the positioning of the pieces on the board. One Bishop does become more valuable than the other Bishop throughout the game as the pawn structures develop.
Bishops are a great asset in chess to have on your team, but if you’re the one who has them on your team, then make sure you’re well-prepared to defend your board from enemies.
Bishops in chess are a crucial resource for attack and defense. If used correctly, bishops can be extremely useful for helping you win the game.
They have the ability to go across the entire board diagonally, while many other pieces can’t do that due to their movement. Therefore, bishops can easily go to any position in the board without hurting themselves or getting in a bad position. It’s also useful to have more than one bishop on your team because then you can have them together box enemies in, and if they’re from different colors, then they’ll be able to destroy each other. This is a way that two bishops can work together by using each other as bait.
I hope this guide on how to use Bishops in Chess helped you. If you want to master the use of the other pieces as well, you can read their guides: