In bullet, blitz, and rapid chess having more time than your opponent is an advantage. I'm wondering if there have been any efforts to determine how much of a time advantage a pawn is worth. Or say a knight. Has anyone tried playing machine matches to figure this out? Since I frequently play speed chess this could be good to know. For Example: 1 pawn = 1 minute advantage in 5 min chess; 1 knight = 30 second advantage in bullet; etc.

4 Answers 4


This is a well known quote about pawns and tempi:

A pawn is worth three tempi

So a pawn is worth 3 good, developing moves. Given that most games are 40 moves long then for bullet and blitz we have:

  • Bullet: 1 minute for all moves per side implies 1/40 minute per move, implying a pawn is worth 3/40' = 0.075' = 4.5''
  • Blitz: 5 minutes for all moves per side implies 5/40 minute per move, implying a pawn is worth 3*5/40' = 0.375' = 22.5''

This is a rough guide and the value of a pawn varies by position.

  • this is interesting and while I accepted this answer I also up voted everyone because its debatable. Just curious if you recall where that quote is from; it sounds familiar.
    – nak3c
    May 11, 2017 at 18:03
  • @nak3c: The quote is often attributed to Siegbert Tarrasch
    – user1108
    May 11, 2017 at 21:43
  • 1
    Although you can calculate in chess tempi, you can't decide how much time your opponent will use. You can't sac a pawn for 20 sec.
    – jf328
    May 12, 2017 at 8:21

You can't say that generally. Apart from the fact that your pawn might be of different quality and your opponent might have some compensation for it, there is one other thing that influences the judgement.

I think the level of players matters most. One pawn is a different advantage for a club player and for a grandmaster. For example: if two grandmasters are playing a 5-minute blitz, one is pawn up and the other is a minute up (let's say the first player has 3 minutes and the second player 4 minutes), it hasn't such a big significance (extreme case is when the first player is very low on time e. g. 1 minute vs 2 minutes, that is of course something different). At the club level your estimate might be true.

Another important concept is that the ratio of both times is more important than the difference between the two times (see the extreme case in the last brackets).

If you tried that with computers, you would find out that it almost doesn't matter, because the machines can move almost instantly (again you probably can find some extreme corner cases).


It entirely depends upon the Position that you are playing . Let's assume that it is an end game and your Pawn is on the 7th Rank and about to Queen next move & you have 1 min of time left in the clock . Your Opponent is unable to stop it from Queening and trying to find safe squares . Then your Pawn and time are equally important .

In the initial position you may play gambits such as a Pawn to make your opponent think and gain time on clock . So there is no simple equation which will lead to a concrete evaluation . There can be many different examples where time and piece are directly & indirectly proportional to each other .


Well, at least we know that relinquishing your ability to draw counts as 16% of the opponent's time.

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