THE VALUE OF THE PIECES

You now know all the rules of chess. You've also seen some examples of CHECKMATE.

You probably realise that some pieces are stronger than others.

Before you go any further it's REALLY IMPORTANT that you know how much the pieces are worth.

The weakest piece is the PAWN: that is worth ONE POINT.

The KNIGHT is stronger than the Pawn: that is worth THREE POINTS.

The BISHOP is about as good as a Knight: it is also worth THREE POINTS.

The ROOK is stronger than a Knight or a Bishop: it is worth FIVE POINTS.

The QUEEN is fantastically strong: it is worth NINE POINTS.

How much is the King worth? Well, what's the biggest number you can think of? A hundred? A million? Infinity? That's how much a King's worth. As both players always have a King on the board, we don't give the King a value when counting points.

HOW MUCH ARE THE PIECES WORTH?
P=1 point
L= N=P+P+P = 3 points
R= N+P+P=L+P+P = 5 points
Q=R+N+P=R+L+P=L+L+N=9 points
N+L=R+P= 6 points
Q+P=R+R=10 points


IN A GAME BETWEEN STRONG PLAYERS EVEN AN ADVANTAGE OF ONE PAWN, OR ONE POINT, IS OFTEN ENOUGH TO WIN. AN ADVANTAGE OF TWO OR MORE POINTS IS ALMOST ALWAYS ENOUGH TO WIN.

Suppose we've captured a Knight and our opponent's captured a Pawn. How much have we gained? Three points! How much have we lost? One point! We have an advantage of TWO POINTS. Another word we use is MATERIAL, which means pieces or points. If we have a Knight for a Pawn we are AHEAD ON MATERIAL. We have A MATERIAL ADVANTAGE.

So, when we are playing a game of chess the most important thing we are trying to do is GET CHECKMATE. If we can't do that what we try to do is GET AHEAD ON POINTS. If we have more pieces, or a stronger army, than our opponent we are more likely to get CHECKMATE.

It's time to look at some moves.

Here's the starting position again. Who moves first? White! Which pieces can he move? His Knights and Pawns. Set up your board and play through the moves yourself.










We'll start by moving the pawn in front of the King two squares: from e2 to e4.

Now it's Black's move and we'll do the same thing: move the pawn in front of the King two squares, from e7 to e5, reaching the next diagram.

One reason why it's good to move the pawn in front of your King at the start of the game is that it opens up two paths. One path for the Bishop and one path for the Queen.





Let's just suppose White decides to move his Bishop on f1 as far as it will ago along the diagonal: all the way to a6. Here's the position.

Before you go any further stop and decide what move you'd play next for Black. You've got a lot of moves to choose from. What do you think is best, and why?

Did you look at the White Bishop on a6? Did you see that you could take it? How many different pieces could you take it with? Two! What are they? The KNIGHT on b8 or the PAWN on b7. Don't forget that Pawns take a different way from the way they move!

Let's take it with the Knight. Make sure the position on your board is the same as the diagram on your left. Have a look and see whether White can take the Knight which is now on a6? Can you find any White piece that can take the Knight? If you think you can you're wrong! Nothing can take the Knight. So what's happened? Black has won a Bishop for nothing! White's Bishop move was NOT a good idea!

So we have a helpful piece of advice for you as you play your first games:

LOOK TO SEE IF YOU CAN MAKE ANY CAPTURES. IF YOU CAN TAKE SOMETHING FOR NOTHING, DO SO.



Set the pieces up and start again. Again White moves the pawn in front of his King two squares, from e2 to e4. And Black moves his pawn from e7 to e5.

This time White moves his Queen from d1 to g4. Play the move on your board and compare it with the diagram.







Let's again suppose you're Black. Can you CAPTURE anything? No? I don't think you can. So let's move the Knight from g8 to f6, jumping over some pawns. Here's the diagram for you.









Now it's White's turn and he decides to move his pawn on the side of the board one square forward, from h2 to h3.

Look at the position on your right and check that it's the same as the one on your board. Now stop and decide what you'd play for Black.

Did you find a CAPTURE here? In fact the Black Knight can make two captures, the Pawn on e4 or the Queen on g4. Did you find them both? Which one should we take? How much is the Queen worth? 9 points! But the pawn is only worth how much? 1 point! If we take the Knight, can White take us? Try to work this out before you make your move. Yes: he can take us with his Pawn on h3. So, we can win the Queen, but if we do so we lose the Knight in return. Is this a good idea? Yes! The Queen is worth much more than the Knight.

So: another piece of helpful advice:

IF YOU CAN TAKE A STRONGER PIECE WITH A WEAKER PIECE, DO SO.

Set up the pieces once more. Yet again, we'll start by moving the White Pawn from e2 to e4 and we'll move the Black pawn from e7 to e5.

Now move the White Knight from g1 to f3. You'll see the position on your right. You'll soon learn that this is much better than the other two moves White tried.










Black also plays a good move: he moves his Knight from b8 to c6. Compare your position with the diagram on your right and make sure they're both the same.








It's now White's move. Can he capture anything? Yes, he can. His Knight on f3 can take the Black pawn on e5. Would you advise him to take it? No - it wouldn't be a good idea to take the pawn. Do you see why not? Because the Black Knight on c6 would take the Knight, leaving the position on your right.

White has won a Pawn and lost a Knight. How much is the Pawn worth? 1 point! And the Knight? 3 points! So, is it a good deal for White? NO!

Our final piece of helpful advice for this chapter:

WHEN YOU'VE THOUGHT OF A MOVE STOP AND ASK YOURSELF 'IS IT SAFE?' BEFORE YOU PLAY IT.















































































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