Handicap Series
Bishop handicap

by Larry Kaufman, amateur 5 Dan

Line 1 : Vanguard allowed.

Starting position

1... S6b 2 P7f P5d 3 P6f P8d 4 P6e (the vanguard pawn) P8e 5 B7g S5c 6 R6h K4b (6... S3a4b planning ... P4d and ... S4c is also played, but it seems to commit white earlier than necessary. Black can aim for S5f and P4e after castling). 7 S7h K3b 8 S6g S3a4b 9 K4h G6b 10 K3h P7d 11 S6f

After 11.S6f

(Black needs to support his vanguard pawn with his silver, but which way, S6f or S5f? If white had already played P4d then S5f would be best, at it would support an attack on 4d. But here S6f is better, because on 5f it would have no role. On 6f, although the silver blocks the bishop, it deters P7e and prepares P5f-5e.) G4a5b 12 G6i5h G7c 13 K2h G8d 14 P5f R6b

After 14.R6b

(else 15 P5e Px5e 16 Sx5e P*5d 17 P6d will lead to favorable exchanges for black, because white's gold on 8d will be out of play) 15 G54h (to punish white for his failure to play ... P4d by playing for a quick attack on the center file) N7c 16 P5e Px5e 17 R5h P6d 18 Sx5e P*5g 19 Gx5g! Nx6e 20 P*5d Nx7g+ (20... S4d 21 Sx4d Px4d 22 Bx4d) 21 Px5c+ Sx5c 22 P*5d S4b 23 Nx7g. The exchange of bishop and pawn for silver and knight is about even, but with the threat of S*7c and the "bomb" on 5d black should win.

Variation 1 - White attacks the vanguard after defending the center.

After 13.K2h

13... P4d (to defend 5d against the above attack) 14 S3h P3d 15 P5f G4c 16 P4f P1d 17 P1f P9d (to prevent a later B9e) 18 P3f (no need for P9f as white's push was purely defensive) R6b (aiming to attack the vanguard pawn) 19 G4g

After 19.G4g

(the high Mino, generally the ideal castle for ranging rook) P6d 20 Px6d Gx6d 21 P*6e G6c 22 N3g N7c (threatens ... Nx6e Sx6e P*6d, so black must attack now) 23 P5e Px5e 24 P4e (trying to pry open the bishop's diagonal) G65d 25 Px4d Sx4d 26 P*4e S4d3c 27 N2e S2b 28 Sx5e Nx6e 29 P4d

After 29.P4d

G4c5c 30 Sx5d Gx5d 31 G*4c Sx4c 32 Px4c+ Kx4c 33 S*6c! Rx6c 34 Bx2b+. With an extra promoted bishop and much safer king black should win.

Variation 2 - White tries for kingside space.

After 17.P1f (in variation 1)

17... P3e 18 G4g S3c (18... G3d 19 P2f P2d 20 S2g, planning R3h and P3f defeats white's plan, or 19... S3c 20 S2g S2d 21 P5e {to get a pawn in hand} Px5e 22 Sx5e P*5d 23 S6f K4c 24 R3h N3c 25 P2e! S1c {all captures lose a piece to P*2f} 26 P3f Px3f 27 Sx3f, again defeating white's plan) 19 P3f Px3f 20 Gx3f P*3d (else 21 P*3e) 21 S4g P2d 22 G3h P9d 23 N3g P9e 24 P4e, with advantage because Px4e loses silver for knight.

After 24.P4e

Variation 3 - White attacks the vanguard without preparation.

After 11.S6f

11... G7c 12 P5f P9d (prevents a later B9e) 13 K2h R6b 14 P5e

After 14.P5e

(This position arose in a magazine game in 1987 between Naganuma Hiroshi, 4 Dan Pro, and Kiriyama Kiyosumi, Kisei title holder. Naganuma just completed his Mino by S3h, but after ... P6d white obtained a satisfactory position, although he ultimately lost. The text is my suggested improvement on the game, by analogy to the first line above.) Px5e 15 R5h P6d (15... R5b is safer, but then white's plan is spoiled) 16 Sx5e P*5d (else black drops there) 17 Sx5d Sx5d 18 Rx5d Px6e (or 18 ... G6c 19 R5i Px6e 20 P*6d Gx6d 21 S*5c with advantage) 19 S*5c G6c 20 Sx4b+ Rx4b 21 R5i P*5d 22 P*5e with advantage to black. For the actual game, see the final issue of George Hodges' magazine "Shogi".