In an earlier post (Who Are You Rooting For?), I mentioned the Carlsen-Radjabov game from round 7, in which Radjabov missed a clear win with a bishop redirection from d6 to a5.
There are lots of examples of improving such a poorly placed piece, but there were a couple that sprang to mind right away. I’m not saying I’d have seen …Bc7-a5 in advance, but I’d hope that having these in my head would have helped.
2r2nk1/pp2r1pn/1q2bp2/3p3P/3P4/2NB1PQ1/PP2NK2/1R5R w - - 0 22)
I didn’t remember who played this game, but I remember that this position was the first quiz problem from Dvoretsky and Yusupov’s “Positional Play” book. (Turns out it was Knaak – Geller, from Moscow in 1982.)
More importantly, I remembered that White’s best here is 22.Bc2! (as played), redirecting the bishop to b3. Then the Rb1 goes to support the d-pawn, and the Ne2 is freed to move to f4, etc. White won pretty quickly afterwards. [As a side note, Houdini scoffs at all these moves, saying that 22.h6 is best with a clear plus, although the line is pretty incomprehensible to me.]
The second example that came to mind right away was the following:
r3qrk1/1pp2p2/3p1bpp/p1nPp3/2P1P1Q1/2N5/PP3PPP/R3NRK1 b - - 0 14)
Once again, I didn’t remember the details so well, although I knew it was a game with GM Joel Benjamin on the black side out of a King’s Indian. Unlike the above example, I don’t know where I saw this game, but with the name and ECO code restriction, along with the first square of the bishop’s journey, it was very simple to find.
It’s from the 1990 US Championship, with Igor Ivanov as white. Benjamin played 14…Bd8!, activating the unchecked bishop in due course with …c6 and so on. This took a while because White put some mild pressure on d6, but after 14…Bd8! 15.Qe2 c6 16.Rd1 Bc7 17.h4 Qe7 18.g3 Kg7 19.Nf3 a4 20.h5 Ba5, the bishop finally started to exert its influence. It ended up on b6 and the pressure on f2 along with central support for a moving pawn center (it took a while!) decided the game.