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October 10, 2013

Placed correctly, bishops conquer

In 1798, the British navy clashed with the French navy at Abukir Bay in the Mediterranean Sea. It became known as the Battle of the Nile.

Horatio Nelson led the British to victory by placing the French navy in a cross fire.

In this week’s position, white’s bishop places black’s king in a cross fire. With this hint in mind, please try to find white’s winning move and plan.

Black’s pawn on f7 threatens white’s queen. However, white’s bishop on c4 freezes this pawn with a pin. This allows white’s queen to stare at black’s king. Only one pawn stands between white’s queen and black’s king, like a picket fence between a lion and a zebra.

White uses the pin on f7 and the proximity of white’s queen to black’s king to force checkmate. White does this by moving its other bishop to f6.

Black’s g7 pawn, like its f7 pawn, is also pinned, as white’s bishops unleash a deadly cross fire. White’s queen and f6 bishop will soon break down black’s picket fence and mate black on g7. Black can delay the inevitable by taking white’s e3 pawn and checking white. But then black has nothing.

The French loss in the Battle of the Nile caused Napoleon to abandon his Mediterranean campaign. The battle proved that Britain was the world’s dominant naval power. When positioned correctly, the bishop pair — or navy, if you like — can dominate  the board like the British navy of old.

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