The Value of the pieces

What is your take on their values?

Please note, I will probably not agree with your opinion, but I would like to hear it.

Mine, generally speaking:
Pawn: 1
Knight: 3.33 to 3.5 ( 3.33 90+% of the time, same for bishop )
Bishop: 3.33 to 3.5
Rook: 5
Queen: 9.75 – read an article once, based on computer evaluations of GM games.

I google on this and most will say Knight and Bishop are worth 3 pawns (I’m aware, some will swear up and down that this is the case), some will say 3.25, one chess program I used a long time ago put them at 3.33.

For as long as I can remember, say 20 years, I would always take 2 minor pieces for rook and pawn try to win with that, so 3 is out of the question for me. The thing is that knight and bishop or even 2 bishops can interlock squares and compliment one another very well (perhaps a knight pair in an open position with queen and rooks off is worth less, but when does that ever happen), their synergy increases their individual value.

I’ve been studying a combo from a position in the Scotch, and I think Crafty may be hamstrung but whatever it evaluates the pieces to be (don’t know, just a guess). Whereas Shredder solves the position, and probably gets the piece value right under the covers. It’s just that Crafty will routinely go for this, but not have the human evaluation of the board to see that going based on point values can lead to crap. I think even “weak” players can often get the human sense of a position right, as it’s just an intuitive feeling. Anyway, I could post this example. I’ve played thousands upon thousands of games of chess, I have a pretty good feel for the endgame, and more lately for middle-game complexities such as this tradeoff for rook and pawns vs. 2 pieces. It only comes to my attention as perhaps an Achilles heel of a chess engine.


7 thoughts on “The Value of the pieces

  1. It all depends on the position!!!!

    For instance in a closed position a knight has much more value then a bishop. Rooks need open lines to become active, is a pawn a free pawn or does it stand in a closed centre, … .

  2. I agree with chesstiger knights are better in a closed position.
    I have had this discussion with the children in my chess club.
    Some like bishops because they can defend their own pawns and attack opponents pawns from afar in endgames.
    Some like kngiths because when they move they attack/defend a different colour square from the one they started on.
    You can get black and white attack/defend from a knight but only the same from a bishop pair.
    Also the knight seems to fork better/easier than a bishop.

    It seems once you have made your choice bishops or knights you cant be changed.
    Bobby fischer loved the bishop pair over the knight pair,and would not be swayed.

  3. There is an excellent article – “The Evaluation of Material Imbalances” by IM Larry Kaufman:

    It’s probably the one you read, since there is the same estimation for the Queen – 9.75. He values Knight/Bishop at 3.25, Rook at 5, bishop pair as 0.5. There are many fine adjustments to these values depending on number of pawns remaining, presence/absence of major/minor pieces, etc.

  4. That’s probably the one, RP, but it was originally published in something like the now defunct ‘American Chess Journal’ which was really good while it lasted, great bios on the current masters and matches especially, but also on past greats such as Fisher’s games.

    The longer I’ve played chess, the more I’ve come to respect and be aware of what the knights are capable of doing. Great point, Chessx, but I think people can come around to changing their early opinions, if not after a long long time. I used to crave the bishop pair even before I learned that Bobby did, worked well against the duffers I would play against while in the Army.

  5. I never saw the sense in giving the pieces fractional values since their strength depends on the position so sensitively. I’d rather use the old 1-3-3-5-9 system with an uncertainty of +/- 1 on each value. I guess this is the scientist in me talking now!

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