ChessTips: The Bishop on g5

How many games did you win moving your bishop to g5, making a pin on an opponent knight on f6, moving your knight to d5, and then deteriorating the opponent’s pawn structure? That’s a typical situation in games between amateurs, this strategy is something like:

After seeing this game you might think “wow! It seemed to be an easy game, now I am going to apply this plan in my games” and I might tell you “Yes just do it, you will win easily” but this situation would happen only if I was a bad coach and because I am not, I must to explain to you that going with your bishop to g5 is not a big idea, at least not in many scenarios. Furthermore, this example was of two players with 1700 of ELO approximately.

Why is moving the bishop to g5 not always good? To answer that we must analyze a little deep what are the pros and cons when we make such a move.

Pros:

  • We are making a pin on the opponent’s knight
  • We gain control on the d5 square (we might move our knight there sometime)
  • With a knight on d5 we are threatening capture on f6 to deteriorate the opponent’s pawn structure

Cons:

  • The opponent can obtain the pair of bishops
  • The opponent can start a rapid attack playing h6 and g5
  • The opponent can take advantage of the bishop on g5 with tactics motifs

As you see, there are several pros and cons of moving the bishop to g5 that you should consider seriously. In the beginning, someone who is starting to play chess and win many games using this plan is often happy, but then, when he is playing against stronger opponents, he starts to realize the cons of the plan.

Despite this example, there are situations (fewer situations) in which the strategy of going with the bishop to g5 works well, for example:

To know if this plan works, you must think about the pros and cons of the plan in your current game, if you calculate that the opponent has no way to take advantage of the bishop on g5, then you can play it, if not, be careful, such bad maneuver can mean the end of the game (or at least a bad position).

Now I will give you 3 examples where you can train your abilities to detect if you can apply or not this plan.

If you have any questions or anecdotes on this topic, you can leave us your comment, or contact us to go deeper with one of our coaches.

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