31

I am a beginner at chess; please answer this for me:

How many points is each chess piece worth?

  • I have edited my answer. Now, it is a simple list of individual pieces and piece combinations. Cheers. – Rauan Sagit Feb 16 '14 at 13:51

15 Answers 15

8

Individual pieces:

Pawn - 1 point

Knight - 3 points

Bishop - 3 points

Rook - 5 points

Queen - 9 points

Piece combinations:

Rook and Knight - 7.5 points

Rook and Bishop - 8 points

Pair of Rooks - 10 points

Three minor pieces - 10 points

Rook and two minor pieces - 11 points

  • What does light piece means? – Mustafa Chelik Jul 27 '17 at 17:17
  • The standard term is "minor piece" and it refers to a knight or bishop. (I've edited the answer to use this term). It's also good to know the term "major piece" to refer to a rook or queen, but it's far less common. – Kef Schecter Sep 21 '17 at 17:18
  • 1
    (-1) The 1-3-3-5-9 guideline is widely accepted and taught, but I've never heard of the piece combination values, nor do I see the point as it clearly depends on the position. Do you have a credible source for those values? – TMM Sep 21 '17 at 20:48
  • Yeah. Widely taught isn't a credible source either. But you're right, it all depends on the position. I don't have a credible source. But feel free to find one. – Rauan Sagit Sep 21 '17 at 21:09
  • 1
    You might add the "bishop pair" to this list - it's referred to often enough to be worth knowing about. – Ghotir Feb 7 at 19:53
33

The answer by MikroDel gives the commonly-used "Reinfeld values" of pawn=1, bishop=knight=3, rook=5, and queen=9 (kings are essentially worth an infinite number of points, because the game ends if it is lost). While this is a good guide, chess is rarely that simple. Many books will give the value of bishops as 3.5 instead of 3, simply because they are often much stronger than knights in endgames and open middlegames.

There are other things to take into account as well. For example, bishops are much stronger if you own both of yours, but you opponent has already lost/traded one or both of theirs. The nature of the position can also affect the worth of individual pieces, as a position that is completely blocked up might leave a bishop with no useful squares to go to while a knight may be able to jump straight over the obstruction.

Another example of how the Reinfeld values can be misleading is that 3 minor pieces (bishops and knights) are often more powerful than a single queen, provided that they are used properly.

For some further reading, you might also want to take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_piece_relative_value which has a much more detailed explanation.

  • 3
    "While this is a good guide, chess is rarely that simple." that was in no way the idea of my answer. Thats why I wrote that the evaluation depends on position. And also have extra posted an explanation what was meant – MikroDel May 29 '13 at 8:10
  • 4
    Even more detailed than the wikipedia page is Larry Kaufman's Evaluation of Material Imbalances. – dfan May 29 '13 at 12:13
  • 1
    @MikroDel Yes, that part of my comment was intended to reinforce what you said about Reinfeld's values only being a guide. – DTR May 29 '13 at 13:29
  • Bishops and Knights are better in closed games, whereas rooks are typically better in open games. Something to consider when trading that knight and bishop for a rook. – MDMoore313 May 30 '13 at 16:33
  • 1
    @b1nary.atr0phy you're not wrong, but at the same time it's hard to gauge the value of pieces over the entire game. For example, the king is often said to be worth about the same as a rook in many characters but significantly less as an active piece while there are more piecesbon the board. So which value to use? And should we value knights relative to an open, closed, middle game or endhame position? And so on and so forth. For the king especially, you really need to see a position to make a proper estimation of value. – DTR Jul 6 '16 at 11:00
17

Pawn - 1 point

Bishop, Knight - 3 Pawns

Rook - 5 Pawns

Queen - 9 Pawns

The evaluation depends on the position.

In some situation you will find it equal or good to give you Rook and Pawn (6 Pawns) for Bishop and Knight (6 Pawns). But it is also possible that two light pieces are more valuable than Rook + Pawn.

The value of pieces given to you will be a good start point to evaluate your position.

11

There's a great analysis/article about this by GM Larry Kaufman available here.

To summarize:

  • Pawn = 1
  • Knight = Bishop = 3.25
  • Bishop Pair = 0.5
  • Rook = 5
  • Queen = 9.75

There's also a lot more detail in the article about what situations favor which groups of pieces. For example, when B+N is better than R+P, or when Q+P is better than R+R, etc.

8

Though one cannot trade one's king for other considerations -- and in this sense the king cannot be evaluated -- the king still has a practical strength as an attacking and defending piece in the many concrete positions in which no immediate mate is in view -- especially during the endgame. This strength can indeed be evaluated. World Champion Emanuel Lasker regarded the king to be one point stronger than a minor piece.

Thus, in this sense, if a knight or bishop has a strength of three, and if we accept Lasker's advice, then the king's strength is four.

6

The standard is usually to compare pieces to each other (i.e how many pawns is a knight worth, a bishop, a queen etc.?

Another way is to determine piece value dynamically using the idea of "absolute/potential activity" and "nominal activity". This idea is based on the number of squares any given piece controls (and I believe is partly how computer engines determine piece values). I believe it is also called mobility by some chess players. Let me explain:

First a few definitions (these are my own, created for the sake of the explanation):

  1. Activity = The number of squares any piece controls
  2. Control = (referring to squares) when a square(s) cannot be occupied by an opponent piece or pawn due the danger of it being captured
  3. Center = The squares e4, d4, e5 and d5

Each piece (lets ignore pawns for the moment) has an absolute activity value and a nominal activity value. The Reinfeld system given above is essentially the former, and it describes the value of the piece in its best condition (i.e where it controls the greatest number of squares). For the sake of convenience we can say that this condition is when the piece is in the center, as all pieces control the maximal number of squares when placed there (try it out with a few pieces and see).

We can quickly formulate some absolute activity values for the pieces by counting the number of squares each piece controls when placed in the center (of an empty board):

  • Queen: Controls 27 squares
  • Rook: Controls 14 squares
  • Bishop: Controls 13 squares
  • Knight: Controls 8 squares

*Note that I've omitted the pawn and the king, this is because they are special, and I will deal with them a bit later.

Now looking at the above we see that the Reinfeld scores were more or less based on this derivation, with the apparent exception of the bishop which seems to be closer to a rook than a knight (the thing which is omitted here, is the fact that a bishop can only control squares of one color; hence its low Reinfeld value).

Other common ideas also become clear with this formulation, e.g the idea of the "two bishops" advantage, which, according to this, would be close to a queen in strength! (13*2 = 26). However, this formulation is only half-complete, because in a real game things are rarely so perfect and ideal as an empty board with your pieces huddled in the center.

Thus we introduce the idea of "nominal activity", which is simply the activity of a piece in a given position. Remember that activity = the number of squares a piece controls. Nominal activity can be constantly in flux (since the position is inevitability bound to change) but is a useful concept when compared against the "absolute activity", for three reasons:

  • It helps you determine whether to trade pieces (and also which pieces to trade)
  • It helps you decide what kinds of positions to create (this is where common chess principles like "knights favor closed positions, bishops favor open ones" come from)
  • It helps you figure out which piece's position you need to improve first ("Knights before bishops" comes from this)

Many, many common ideas can be elucidated from this formulation (mostly because it is so fundamental to the game). Consider the idea of a positional sacrifice, it is simply a move which gives up material in exchange for one's piece(s) to get closer to its(their) absolute activity.

This brings me to the pawns. The pawns don't really have activity in the same way pieces do, instead they are used to determine terrain, i.e the "positional factors" on the board which determine nominal activity. In that sense, they are used to limit or increase the nominal activity of other pieces (this why you move the pieces first, then the pawns, because its usually faster to move a piece to a better square than to improve a piece by making a pawn move). Pawns serve other purposes as well, of course, but in the context of this question I think this will suffice.

So to summarize:

  1. Absolute activity: the greatest number of squares a piece can potentially control
  2. Nominal activity: the number of squares a piece controls in a given position
  3. Piece Value: a dynamic measurement based upon how close a piece's nominal activity is to its absolute activity

EDIT:

Notice how easy (and accurate, and logical) piece combination values become when using this system.

  • 2 Rooks (28) > 1 Queen (27)
  • 2 Knights + 1 Bishop (29) > 1 Queen
  • 2 Bishops + 1 Knight (34) >> 1 Queen
  • 2 Bishops (26) >> 2 Knights (16)
  • Bishop + Knight (21) >> Rook + pawn (~16)
  • etc.

Also notice how nominal activity can help determine which pieces are better in the endgame (the pieces whose nominal activity is greatly affected by pawns will improve in the endgame)

  • Bishop (eg ~13) > Knight (eg ~8)
  • Rook (eg ~14) < Bishop + pawn(eg ~15)
  • etc.
5

Computer Chess programs provide an evaluation of pieces relative to the strength of a pawn, which compliment's Dave's answer nicely. To summarize:

Piece: Range of Values

  1. Pawn: 100
  2. Knight: 300-400
  3. Bishop: 300-400
  4. Rook: 500-600
  5. Queen: 880-1200
  6. King: 10000*

*Kings are given a large actual value to simplify the search behavior, but essentially have infinite value

  • Regarding the King, see thb answer – leonbloy Jul 31 '14 at 19:41
3

Don't use the system, it hurts chess players into thinking that one bishop is always better than a night or a rook is always better than a bishop.

2

This is a very sensible question for a beginner to ask, but as you progress beyond being a beginner, as I hope you do, you will come to realize that it has no answer.

  • I agree. +1. I don't think there's such thing as points in chess. It depends on the position. – SmallChess Jan 5 '18 at 3:22
  • it has answer, it's just different because it's position specific – AnonymousLurker Apr 3 '18 at 1:22
1

I'd say in general bishops get 3.5 knights 3, queen 9, rooks 5 and the king doesn't get evaluated because, as everyone said he doesn't have a definite value, but you could say he's quite important in the endgame.

Now the values change. So in a closed position knights are stronger than bishops, often stronger than rooks even. In half open-open positions bishops are stronger than knights but 2 bishops basically increase each others strength.

Another example, in positions with a small number of pawns and light pieces, 2 rooks are often better than a queen, whereas in positions with a lot of other pieces a queen is (most often) better.

So it all really depends on the position. And my words are true only if you can actually use your pieces as good as possible, or something close to that. :)

1

Initial values are Pawn - 1 point, Bishop, Knight - 3 Pawns, Rook - 5 Pawns, Queen - 9 Pawns.

These values change in relation to the position and the configuration of pieces on either side. Pieces on good squares are worth more than pieces on bad squares. Point count is merely a rough guide to the strength of each side; more important is the placement and activity of the pieces - this is where judgement of material imbalances becomes important. You can't simply say that a Queen is equal to 3 minor pieces or 2 rooks; the position will dictate the relative values.

0

Queen 10 Rook 5 Bishop 3.5 Knigh 3 (debatable) Pawn 1

  • 2
    This answer does not give any reasoning or references. However, these precise values are not mentioned in other answers, so it is not a duplicate answer and probably could be improved. – JiK Aug 5 '14 at 15:06
0

Pawn = 1
Knight = 3-1/3
Bishop = 3-1/2
Rook = 5
Queen = 9
King = Infinity
Back when my brother and I played chess in the early-middle 70's (when Fischer & Spasky were all the rage), this is the point system I remember reading about in a book on chess (I can't remember the book).

0

Dider gives an answer based on the maximum activity of the pieces when they are placed at the center of an empty board. One could continue this analysis evaluating the activity at other locations of the board, building an 8x8 matrix for each piece. And comparing two extreme cases: empty board vs fully crowded board.

The resulting matrices are:

    Empty board (free piece)                Crowded board (blocked piece)   
    ------------------------                -----------------------------
Pawn    x  x  x  x  x  x  x  x          Pawn    x  x  x  x  x  x  x  x      
        1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1                  1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1      
        1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1                  1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1      
        1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1                  1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1      
        1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1                  1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1      
        1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1                  1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1      
        1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1                  1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1      
Pawn    x  x  x  x  x  x  x  x          Pawn    x  x  x  x  x  x  x  x      
mean = 7/4 squares                      mean=7/4 squares                

kNight  2  3  4  4  4  4  3  2          kNight  2  3  4  4  4  4  3  2      
        3  4  6  6  6  6  4  3                  3  4  6  6  6  6  4  3      
        4  6  8  8  8  8  6  4                  4  6  8  8  8  8  6  4      
        4  6  8  8  8  8  6  4                  4  6  8  8  8  8  6  4      
        4  6  8  8  8  8  6  4                  4  6  8  8  8  8  6  4      
        4  6  8  8  8  8  6  4                  4  6  8  8  8  8  6  4      
        3  4  6  6  6  6  4  3                  3  4  6  6  6  6  4  3      
kNight  2  3  4  4  4  4  3  2          kNight  2  3  4  4  4  4  3  2      
mean = 21/4 squares, N~3P               mean=21/4 squares, N~3P             

Bishop  7  7  7  7  7  7  7  7          Bishop  1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1      
        7  9  9  9  9  9  9  7                  2  4  4  4  4  4  4  2      
        7  9  11 11 11 11 9  7                  2  4  4  4  4  4  4  2      
        7  9  11 13 13 11 9  7                  2  4  4  4  4  4  4  2      
        7  9  11 13 13 11 9  7                  2  4  4  4  4  4  4  2      
        7  9  11 11 11 11 9  7                  2  4  4  4  4  4  4  2      
        7  9  9  9  9  9  9  7                  2  4  4  4  4  4  4  2      
Bishop  7  7  7  7  7  7  7  7          Bishop  1  2  2  2  2  2  2  1      
mean=35/4 squares, B~5P                 mean=49/16 squares, B~1.75P         

King    3  5  5  5  5  5  5  3          King    3  5  5  5  5  5  5  3      
        5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5                  5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5      
        5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5                  5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5      
        5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5                  5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5      
        5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5                  5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5      
        5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5                  5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5      
        5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5                  5  8  8  8  8  8  8  5      
King    3  5  5  5  5  5  5  3          King    3  5  5  5  5  5  5  3      
mean=105/16 squares, K~3.75P            mean=105/16 squares, K~3.75P            

Rook    14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14         Rook    2  3  3  3  3  3  3  2      
        14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14                 3  4  4  4  4  4  4  3      
        14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14                 3  4  4  4  4  4  4  3      
        14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14                 3  4  4  4  4  4  4  3      
        14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14                 3  4  4  4  4  4  4  3      
        14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14                 3  4  4  4  4  4  4  3      
        14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14                 3  4  4  4  4  4  4  3      
Rook    14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14         Rook    2  3  3  3  3  3  3  2      
mean=14 squares, R~7P                   mean=7/2 squares, R~2P              

The board starts in a "half-crowded" state, and becomes less crowded as the game advances. The numerical values found on books and publications lie between these extreme cases. Looking at the high fluctuations, one can understand why so many people say that it all depends (heavily!) on the position.

  • 1
    Your bishop on the crowded board looks wrong on the far right side; those 4s should be 2s. – D M Mar 25 '18 at 2:00
  • 1
    And you didn't put the queen in - it would, by this measure, be the sum of the rook and the bishop. So, between 12 and 3.75 pawns. – D M Mar 25 '18 at 2:11
  • D M: I have corrected the wrong numbers of the bishop, thanks. According to this model of activity and mobility, the Queen should be the sum Q=R+B. But that is not in accordance with the "official" numbers; the real Queen is usually considered more than R+B, so she must have properties that are not covered by this model. – Diedrsch Mar 25 '18 at 3:00
  • 1
    Could you clarify what you mean by "crowded board"? The numbers for your crowded board matrices otherwise make no sense to me. – itub Mar 25 '18 at 12:50
  • @itub: A completely "crowded" board is only an idealization, because a real board will have at most 32 of the 64 squares occupied. Perhaps we should imagine crowded spots or regions. – Diedrsch Mar 25 '18 at 13:54
-1

Chess pieces and their points:

queen - 9
rook - 5
bishop - 3
knight - 3
pawn - 1

If you need any more help, search on Google for Chess pieces and their points.

  • 1
    Even if this is a beginner's approximation (which is good enough for somebody starting out in the game), it is bit inaccurate to assign the king zero points, or for that matter, assign points to a king at all as you don't "use" him to count material trades or captures. – shivsky Dec 28 '13 at 18:47
  • Well, @shivsky I am a beginner. But thanks for the information. – TheWildMan Jan 12 '14 at 16:50
  • @TheWildMan I made an edit. It should be better now. Cheers. – Rauan Sagit Feb 18 '14 at 10:20

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