Luigi Centurini (Genoa, April 24, 1820 – Genoa, November 10, 1900) was an Italian jurist, chess player, and chess composer. He gained global recognition for creating a study on the endgame of rook and knight versus rook. Additionally, he developed guidelines for the bishop and pawn vs. bishop endgames to determine when the game is won and when it results in a draw:
- The game is a draw if the defending king can reach any square in front of the pawn that is opposite in color to the squares the bishops travel on.
- In order for the defending player to achieve a draw when their king is positioned behind the pawn and the opposing king is in close proximity to the pawn, several conditions must be met. Specifically, the defending king must be actively attacking the pawn, have control over the opposition, and their bishop must have the ability to move along two diagonal lines that each have a minimum of two vacant squares (not counting the bishop’s current position).
Hmm, the second rule looks pretty complex, doesn’t it? It will be easier to understand on examples.
A draw. White cannot push the defending king away from the pawn, and the defending bishop always controls the square to pass.
A win. White can get a tempo by checking the black king, while the defending bishop doesn’t control the critical square.
A win. The black king is too far from the square g5 to gain the opposition, and White’s bishop will successfully control the crucial diagonal h5-e8 to enforce the bishop exchange.
A win. A knight pawn position is usually won because the attacking player can make the defending bishop leave the critical diagonal to the queening square.
In bishop and pawn versus bishop endgames, zugzwang can often be used to force the opposing bishop to move away from a key square, allowing the player with the extra pawn to advance their pawn. By understanding the key concepts and techniques involved, however, players can increase their chances of converting a pawn advantage into a win. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, mastering the bishop and pawn versus bishop endgame can be a valuable addition to your chess skills.