Lesson 3 - The Value of Chess Pieces

Here is the plan I propose for this lesson:

We learned in lesson 2 the way each piece captures enemy pieces. Here are a couple of questions we need to ponder on though: are all captures ensuring a material advantage? Should we always capture an enemy piece being offered?

In order to help us in determining if a capture is favourable or not, there is a simple system well known in the chess world which gives a value to each pieces except the King (since both Kings will always be on the board). This sytem used the pawn as the base unit value. So, according to this system:

The pawn is the base unit and is worth 1 (the pawn) = 1
The knight is worth 3 (the knight) = 3
The bishop is worth 3 (the bishop) = 3
The rook is worth 5 (the rook) = 5
The Queen is worth 9 (the queen) = 9

The justification for the value given to the pieces are derived from their characteristics: the pawn is the base unit because of its limited moving capacity; bishops and knights got a 3 because they are minor pieces with characteristics that are giving them about the same value on the board; the rook is worth more than the minor pieces because it is a major piece and, finally, the Queen is worth 9 because it is the most powerful piece on the board.

This sytem has been tested and gives a fair value to the pieces. As an example, if a player gives a bishop and a knight to obtain a rook (giving 6 points and getting 5), he will have a disadvantage: he might have removed a major piece from his opponent but on the other hand, the opponent will have one more piece on the board. With this extra piece, he will have the opportunity to have a more dynamic setup and will have the possibility of controlling more space.

Another example validating this system is that 2 rooks (5+5 = 10 points) is worth more than a Queen (9 points).  Indeed, the rooks can combine their power to build excellent defensive fortress or attacking net.  They can always protect each other mutually.  We can affirm that a player exchanging his Queen for two rooks has done an good deal!

To properly evaluate the winner of an exchange, we have to calculate the number of points that both players obtained in the sequence of moves. The player obtaining the greater number of points succeeded in getting a material advantage over his opponent. Thus, for example, if you give a knight and a pawn to capture a rook, it costed you 4 points to remove 5 points from your opponent's army. A positive deal giving you a 1 point material advantage!

Let's conclude the topic on pieces' relative valueonline chess tutorial on the next page.