I have played recently a game. In the position below Stockfish is saying that Nxe6 is a mistake and Rad1 is suggested but I'm having a hard time figuring out why. Can someone provide some insights ? given these thoughts:

  1. It's a bishop for knight in my favor.
  2. The bishop makes my position slightly vulnerable because of the pin on the queen.
  3. The knight outpost is appealing but it can be kicked with c5.

I played:

1r1q1rk1/ppn1bppp/2ppb3/8/2PNPBn1/1QN3P1/PP3PBP/R3R1K1 w - - 9 14

1. Nxe6 fxe6 2. Rad1

link of the game

  • 4
    "The knight outpost is appealing but it can be kicked with c5" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outpost_(chess) "An outpost is a square on the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh rank which is protected by a pawn and which cannot be attacked by an opponent's pawn" d4 satisfies only one of the three conditions. If it can be kicked off by a pawn, it's not a knight outpost, it's just a knight. Commented May 13, 2019 at 16:41
  • 1
    In these situations I like to ask myself: "How obvious is it that [given move] is good?" Nxe6 is not at all obviously good, while Rad1 is obviously a good move, in the sense that it completes your development by activating your last piece.
    – Scounged
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 17:01
  • 1
    In addition to all the other comments, I'd point out that the c7 knight doesn't look great, and when you trade for the bishop, the knight can retake and is much better e6. Trading uncramps blacks position.
    – Issel
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 19:08
  • Thank you all for you insights it was very helpful. My takeaway is that my position was quite stable and black can't disrupt it without some serious weaknesses on his side. In other words releasing the tension was unnecessary, I would even say it was in blacks favor helping him to improve his position.
    – MrMaxPayne
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 20:53

3 Answers 3


it's a bishop for knight in my favor

So what? You will have moved the knight 3 times to your opponent's bishop 1 move and you will have improved your opponent's position by opening the f file for him. So, not in your favour after all.

the bishop makes my position slightly vulnerable because of the pin on the queen

No, it doesn't. If it ever becomes a threat you can nullify it with NxB. Until it becomes a threat you are reacting to a phantom.

the knight outpost is appealing but it can be kicked with c5

To which you can react with NxB! Again, you are reacting to a phantom. Although Ndb5 would be much better increasing the pressure on the backward and now weak pawn on d6.

The reason you won the game is that your opponent blundered. His reply to your Rad1 of moving the knight back to f6 for no good reason was terrible. Far better would have been to kick your bishop with e5. With the knight on g4 protecting e5 this is possible and very good. With the knight back on f6 this is not possible.

As is often the case the move you chose, NxB, releases tension unnecessarily, and in this case in your opponent's favour. Playing Rad1 retains the possibility of NxB if it looks better later and it reinforces the center and places a rook opposite black's queen. It is just a much better move.

  • 5
    It all comes back to the same, maintaining the tension :D
    – Isac
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 17:19
  • Opening the f-file with queens still on the board can be dangerous for Black too, so why not 1...Nxe6 instead of 1...fxe6?
    – trolley813
    Commented May 14, 2019 at 6:14

The statement "it's a bishop for knight in my favor" makes no sense, or at least, no more than "It's a knight for a bishop in my favor". Bishops are no better than knights. Well, they kind of are overall but the difference is so small that there are often many other factors that can turn the balance around.

Your knight is a very strong centralized piece, and it is true that it can be kicked away with ...c5, but at that point this would create a weakness (the d6 pawn) that can be targetted by your queen, dark-squared bishop and rooks.

And lastly, but probably most importantly, Nxe6 reinforces your opponent's central presence, while also activating the f8 rook


Nxe6 could also be followed by Nxe6, strengthening his king side, center presence as well as improving Black's queen, giving her more options. This is generally a waste of a well-positioned piece.

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