Talk:Bishop (chess)

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K+B win[edit]

how easy is it to win with a King and Bishop versus a King? Kingturtle 01:43 Apr 14, 2003 (UTC)

It is impossible to checkmate with a king and a bishop versus a king, even if both players cooperate to try to set up a checkmate position. --Fritzlein 23:08 12 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Hi there, I'm not much of a chess player, can I say, I think the above point about the impossibility of mate with just king and bishop might be worth mentioning in the main article. I didn't know that, and it would have made more sense of the last section on end games. This may be known to serious chess players, but I'm not one of them, and other readers won't all be either. Anyway less people will know this than will know how a bishop moves. Stevie (talk) 15:38, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

I added a sentence about this in the "versus rook" section. Krakatoa (talk) 17:13, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

"Bishop" <-> "Ship" Question[edit]

Is it true that the bishop was a ship (diagonal travel)in the beginning of chess? They then have been replaced by bishops on behalf of the church (they had no representation on the board until then). I heard this somewhere and i suspect this is just a rumor .... but better to put it here. -- 19:20, 2 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I don't know that the bishop was ever a ship. I think it was originally an elephant. You can see in Chinese chess and Korean chess even today they have an elephant where chess has a bishop. Also I believe that in Europe the elephant was first called a "fool" because the word sounded sounded vaguely like the Persian for elephant, and the piece was represented by a jester's cap. But then someone thought the jester's cap looked like a bishop's mitre, and that's how the piece was converted to being a bishop. I haven't researched any of this; I just think I read it somewhere once... --Fritzlein 02:59, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, that's what i though initially too (and which is mentioned in the Chess page. ......Ok, i've found this source (not the one i refered to above though), but they also claim that "The rook or castle was originally an elephant, with a fortified chamber, tower, or castle on its back. [...]" Which is a bit strange since the asian chess had a rook AND an elephant if i'm not completly wrong. (you can see the non-asian images in a german pdf file) -- 16:19, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I'm no expert on chess history, but I've read a fair bit, and my copy of the Oxford Companion to Chess (I don't have anything better to hand just now) confirms our initial thoughts: the bishop replaced the fil, which took its name from the Persian for "elephant". The rook takes its name from the Persian rukh, "chariot". There is no mention of ships.
The misconception that the rook used to be an elephant seems to be a common one; I'm not sure why. Maybe it's just because in modern novelty chess sets the rook is sometimes represented as a war elephant. If somebody can check H.J.R. Murray's History of Chess or some similarly respected source, there may be more detail; perhaps there will even be mention of ships (I doubt it, but you never know). A source such as Murray I would trust; dodgy-looking webpages I find hard to trust. --Camembert

In my study of medieval history I have come across occasional references which state that when the crusaders went to the holy land they returned with versions of the game and it contained an elephant in place of the rook and a ship in the place of the bishop. Rumor has it that is the reason that the rook can only travel in straight lines. This also explains why the modern day Bishop moves diagonally. Because it was originally a ship tacking against the wind. Supposedly the church felt that the closest thing to a king and queen should be a Bishop, not a ship and thus it was changed by the Catholic Church at about the time of the end of the first crusade. Supposedly the rook was changed because few people in Europe had encountered elephants and since they usually had portable platforms for fighting on them, they were changed to "castles" which resembled the mobile wall breaching devices of the time. This was also mentioned in the Masonic book "Born in Blood" and I believe there were some references there. As they changed the Winter Festivals of rebirth into "Jesus' alleged birthday" (never mind Santa Claus, evergreens in your home and kissing under the mistletoe; BTW: scholars believe he was really born in the spring) along with Spring Festivals of fertility (i.e. Bunnies and eggs) being the celebration of his death and rebirth (who thought putting bunnies, eggs and crucifixion together was a good idea?!), It really isn't a long stretch to beleive they insisted on changing a ship to a Bishop! Remember it was a different time and going against the church could mean bad news...I think looking to Asian ad Persian history miht help you find something tangible. Good Luck(----)

Thanks for the feedback. :) I have no such trustworthy source reachable, that's why i initially put the question here. And i do not trust ANY online content at all (includes wikipedia ;) ). The above link was just an example (the first thing i found with google), and i'm trying to 'eliminate' these rumors .. if they are rumors. Finally, as you said, it would be best if s/b who has one of these books could search a bit there. It would be greatly appreciated. -- 15:38, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Time to correct the rumour I spread as well then, I guess. The ship idea makes snese none the less, what with sailing against the wind and all...
According to A short History of Chess by Henry Davidson, (McKay, ISBN 0-679-14550-8) the bishop was an elephant (page 34). There is a controversy over whether a bishop rook was a ship or a chariot. Neither is entirely satisfactory, but the chariot is slightly better, according to Davidson, page 44. Bubba73 (talk), 15:10, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
I think you mean "over whether a rook was a ship or a chariot." J S Ayer 12:44, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes. Bubba73 (talk), 03:39, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Raking bishops[edit]

The page has good material on several tactical and strategic motifs involving bishops. We should probably have a brief discussion of raking bishops, and single and double bishop sacrifices. Quale (talk) 03:01, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Which way's forwards?[edit]

This is a stupid question, but I've always wondered- which way is the groove supposed to face, forwards or backwards? Darien Shields (talk) 13:37, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

I do not believe it matters at all. Unlike with knights, I've never seen anyone care which way the bishop faces. I used to like knights facing forward, but most people like them facing to the side. I like that now. Some people like both knights facing left or both right, or the one on the left facing right and vice-versa, but I don't care about that. With bishops, I don't think anyone cares. Bubba73 (talk), 15:20, 23 July 2008 (UTC)
PS, in the photo on the main article, I chose that angle so that the cut could be clearly seen, not to imply any particular orentation of the bishop. Bubba73 (talk), 15:37, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

fianchetto error[edit]

I think there is some kind of mistake in the fianchetto part. How can black play 3. ... g6 and 4. ... gxf6 ? It seems as if he has two g-pawns or something like that. I can't correct this since I don't know this game and so I don't know which move has to be corrected. -- (talk) 12:58, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Fixed Bubba73 (talk), 15:14, 6 July 2009 (UTC)


The piece's deep groove symbolizes a bishop's (or abbot's) mitre. The groove originates from the original form of the piece, an elephant (the groove represented the elephant's tusks).

Sounds like a contradiction, at least on a first read. (talk) 03:12, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

The etimology of "Alfiere"[edit]

It is plausible that also the Arabs have taken the word from Latin Ferens the soldier who carries the flag. In Italy the word "alfiere" means the bearer of flag. During Roman Empire was called Aquilifer. So the word is returned in Italy from Arabs as in English much latin words are returned with Normans conquest. See

--Andriolo (talk) 14:48, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Indeed can not to be two sets of knights. (Arab: Al-Faris means knight). In western world the Bishop is represented with an Partian catafratta armor. Which suggests also a possible derivation from war games on the board already present in classical antiquity as the roman Ludus latrunculorum war game played almost certainly in 64 squares chessboard. It is arrived perhaps from Ancient Greece, Anatolia, Egypt or Mesopotamia or born locally or born from other part. We don’t know. The Indian chess probably is only a local variant of game already widespread in the world since immemorial time. Howewer modern rules are established in mediterranean world during medieval period. In medieval Italy, as in ancient Greece, for the things that it haven't clear knowledge about the origin. The origin was attributed to a mythical Orient as today without historical bases.

--Andriolo (talk) 09:57, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

Information about bishop groove[edit]

I don't agree to remove those sentences because they are cited in old sources. Please, if someone has an updated and reliable source, provide it and then change the article.OTAVIO1981 (talk) 17:07, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

I have some newer sources, but I think they all say the same thing. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 19:21, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
I think that too, so information should be maintened other sources be cited.OTAVIO1981 (talk) 21:05, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

In Estonian Bishopis called Oda (Spear). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:32, 20 May 2012 (UTC)

If you look at some of these Bishops from: you can see the tusks were not "interpreted as" the mitre:

The "Elephant" with tusks is in the middle:

Now here is one in the abstract shape "interpreted" as a Bishop:

And here is the same thing with two sets of tusks and the Bishop has a mitre:

Now you see Bishop with no enclosure of the older shape, and therefore no tusks, only the mitre: You can see the mitre has changed orientation so the "points" are in front and back and the "deep groove" runs horizontal. This change has nothing to do with chess, it's a change in the way actual Bishops actually wore their mitres and the piece has been a Bishop and not an elephant for a long time already.

This late 19th or early 20th century English Bishop: has a mitre which is a mitre and not a pair of tusks, a styled version of the older European Bishops with the carved mitres which were never interpretations of the tusks which pointed forward not up... incidentally there was an old islamic piece signature with a "deep groove" between "two equal points" that did point up. That would be the rook...

If any piece was going to "turn into" that shape of mitre it would have been the old rook where the points actually point up: This is a rook, not a Bishop, and it looks much more like the 17th-19th century piece signature of a Bishop than the old Elephant with its tusks does.

The stuff about the French interpreting it as a jester is sillier still since the French pre-Staunton piece signature for a Bishop is a plain ball with a cut in the collar of the piece and looks nothing like a mitre at all. (here's some from the Crumiller collection 18th and 19th century... ... do you see anything that looks remotely like a mitre on that page at all? I can't find any pics of non-figural 18th century French chessmen just now but believe me they have plain balls on top too.) The whole theory is really silly and not based in fact like the idea that Jonchets are chessmen, that chess started out in India as a four player game, and a million other misconceptions about old chessmen that get reprinted over and over.

Another thing to note is that the chessman was a Bishop in Europe *before* Bishops wore mitres that looked anything like two equal prongs with a deep groove in them, so again it makes no sense for people to have called it a Bishop because the horns looked like the Bishop hat. The Bishop hat didn't even look like that yet. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:34, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

This info needs to be clarified and referenced to a reliable source. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 06:44, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

Why I placed the {{Refimprove}}[edit]

This article has sources, but many of them are different pages from the same book. With many sources available for this high-profile subject, I think the article could do better. --Mr. Guye (talk) 19:43, 13 March 2016 (UTC)

Edit revert[edit]

Hey, just thought I'd open a discussion on an edit I made earlier that added "his or her" to one line that previous referred to players as "his". Context:

In the middle game, a player with only one bishop should generally place his or her pawns on squares of the color that the bishop cannot move to. This allows the player to control squares of both colors, allows the bishop to move freely among the pawns, and helps fix enemy pawns on squares on which they can be attacked by the bishop. Such a bishop is often referred to as a "good" bishop.

It's since been reverted, and I'd like to open a discussion as I assumed the edit was in line with WP:GNL, consistent with other chess articles such as Chess and I made it in good faith without thinking it would be particularly contentious. Is there some other way we can reword the sentence to improve it? Cheers, Boopitydoopityboop (talk) 00:13, 5 January 2017 (UTC)

If you think WP:GNL empowers blindly substituting "he or she"/"his or her" for "he"/"his", which is what you did & do, then yeah, I have problem w/ that - it always disimproves the text. The issue isn't specific to this article, numerous discussions have occurred at other locations including at Talk:Losing chess, WT:CHESS, WT:GGTF, WT:MOS.
In this case I think "place their pawns" works okay. IHTS (talk) 00:52, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
Okay, so "place their pawns" is an acceptable alternative? Happy to update that Boopitydoopityboop (talk) 01:19, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
Yes. (But, I do think it is a net dis-improvement to the text.) IHTS (talk) 01:27, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
I've changed it to "place friendly pawns", because one important thing here is that you want your friendly pawns to block enemy pawns and fix them on the colour your bishop can attack. I think the use of "they" unnecessarily obscures this, if only a little. Double sharp (talk) 14:48, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
Simple & good. (But "hard"/impossible, for average WP editor.) --IHTS (talk) 19:41, 12 February 2017 (UTC)