Bishops-of-opposite color endgames might be the most difficult to win, but in the following game, a grandmaster overcomes the obstacles brilliantly.

Winning a bishops-of-opposite color endgame is extremely difficult. Doing it against a grandmaster is even more impressive. But that is just what Georg Meier of Germany does against Dorian Rogozenko of Romania in the following game. 

Rogozenko, D. vs. Meier, Geo
Bundesliga 2016-17 | Hamburg GER | Round 10.1 | 19 Mar 2017 | ECO: A40 | 0-1
1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6 3. e4 Bb7 4. Bd3 Bb4+ 5. Kf1 Be7 6. Nf3 d6 7. Nc3 Nd7 8. h3 Bf6 9. Qc2 Ne7 10. Be3 c5 11. d5 Ng6 12. Rd1 Qe7 13. Be2 O-O 14. h4 Nge5 15. g3 Nxf3 16. Bxf3 Rae8 17. Kg2 Bxc3 18. Qxc3 Ne5 19. Bf4 Nxf3 20. Qxf3 f5 21. Rhe1 fxe4 22. Qxe4 Qf7 23. Qd3 exd5 24. cxd5 Bxd5+ 25. f3 Ba8 26. Qxd6 h6 27. Rxe8 Rxe8 28. Qd3 Qxa2 29. Rd2 Qf7 30. Re2 Rxe2+ 31. Qxe2 Bc6 32. Qe5 Qb3 33. Qc3 Qxc3 34. bxc3 I hope readers will forgive me for ignoring everything up to this point, but it looked like a pretty straightforward middlegame where Meier outplayed a weaker opponent. But this endgame is far from clear, and fascinating to analyze. I really think Meier played extremely well.
34... a5! A good start. Black does not need to fear Bc7.
34... Kf7? 35. c4! And Black now cannot avoid losing some material on the queenside. For example:
35... a5 36. Bc7 a4 37. Bxb6 a3 38. Bxc5 a2 And since the White pawn is no longer on c3:
39. Bd4 Saves the day for White.  )
34... a6? 35. Bc7! b5 36. Bb6 c4 37. g4 In this variation, Black's queenside pawns are blockaded on the dark squares. White should not lose.  )
35. Kf2
35. Bc7 a4! This is the point. White is not in time to take b6:
36. Bxb6 a3 And the pawn promotes.  )
35... a4 36. Bc1 Bb5! Another good move. Before doing anything else, Black prevents c4.
37. Ke3 Kf7 38. Ke4 Ke6 39. Ba3 Bc6+ 40. Kd3 An unfortunate move for White to have to make, but the pawn on f3 is far less important than not allowing the Black king to invade.
40. Ke3 Kd5! 41. Kd3 Bb5+ And once the Black king gets to c4, Black will have a decisive advantage.  )
40... Bxf3 41. c4 Black has made noticeable progress. He has won a pawn, consolidated his queenside, and has a good level of activity for his pieces. But how does he break through? The pawns are not going anywhere just yet and White has no targetable weaknesses.
41... h5 42. Bc1 I was watching this game and I thought that White would be able to hold a draw. The kingside seems totally safe, and if White plays Kc3 and then shuffles Bc1-a3-c1 for the rest of the game, how can Black make progress? Meier answered my question.
42... Kd7 43. Bb2 g6 44. Bc1 Kc6 45. Kc3 Be2! The start of the winning plan.
45... b5 46. cxb5+ Kxb5 This leads to the same kind of position as in the game, except that Black has a king instead of a pawn on b5. In fact, this is not as good as in the game. White can simply hold by playing Bc1-a3 as black has no way to get his queenside pawns moving.  )
46. Bb2 Bxc4! 47. Kxc4 b5+ 48. Kd3 Kd5 Three pawns for a bishop is nominal material equality, but in this position, the three pawns are all connected, passed, well organized and the Black king is active. It is a significant advantage. Nevertheless, Black still needs to play precisely to win.
49. Bg7 b4! The only move that can lead to a win.
49... a3 50. Kc3 b4+ 51. Kb3 After Bf8, the pawns will be stopped.  )
50. Bf8 a3! Again, the only way to play for a win.
50... c4+ 51. Kc2 And Black cannot stop a blockade on the dark squares.  )
50... b3 51. Kc3  )
50... Kc6 51. Kc4  )
51. Kc2 Kc4 52. Bg7 Kb5 53. Kb3 c4+ 54. Ka2 Ka4 55. Bf6 Meier's play has thus far been methodical and strong. It would be easy to get carried away and make a mistake, but he does not do that.
55... c3!
55... b3+ This move looks very tempting, but in fact it would allow White to draw. After
56. Kb1! Black is unable to play c3, and his pawns are otherwise ineffective despite reaching the sixth rank.
...  a2+ 57. Kb2 Kb4 58. Bc3+ With a blockade.  )
56. Kb1 Kb3 57. Be7 Black has achieved just about everything he set out to achieve, but his pawns still cannot promote.
57... c2+ 58. Kc1 Kc3! Another strong move. Black sets his sights on the kingside.
59. Bf6+ Kd3 60. Be7 a2! 61. Bf6 b3 It looks like White has a permanent blockade on the dark squares, and indeed this would be a draw if not for the kingside pawns. But the White bishop is overworked and cannot defend both sides of the board.
62. Bg7 Ke4! Before aiming for g3, black needs to play g5.
63. Kd2 Kf5!
63... Kf3 64. Be5 a1=Q? This would be too hasty.
65. Bxa1 Kxg3 66. Bf6! With a draw. This is why Black has to play g5 before taking the pawn on g3.  )
64. Bd4 g5! 65. hxg5 Kxg5 66. Bc3 Kg4 67. Be5 Kf3 68. Kc1 a1=Q+ The final touch. White resigned instead of facing:
69. Bxa1 Kxg3 When the h-pawn will cost him his bishop and then the Black king can return to help the queenside pawns advance.


Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.