# Is it better to start without a queen or without any pawns?

I think that this question really can be answered rigorously with good analysis. It is opinion-based, but not completely since some results in this direction can be obtained, and strict and general guidelines can be given, along with good heuristics and reasons for the advantage of one or the other side. So, let us go straight to the description of a question.

Some of you wrote about some system of points I really did not know of, that assigns values to figures, according to their "strength". Of course, it all depends on the positions in the game and on the tactics and strategies, but, I have a legal question to ask.

Suppose that two players are starting the game, and that they are equally good (in this context, meaning that all the strategies that one player knows of the other one knows too, and vice-versa). One is starting the game without 8 pawns and with a queen, and the other one is without a queen and with 8 pawns. Who, generally, has the advantage?

``````[FEN "rnbqkbnr/8/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNB1KBNR w - - 0 1 "]
``````

I think that this can answer this can be determined through very rigorous and sufficient analysis. It seems also that there is a tendency to favor the side with a queen and without pawns, but I do not see exactly why, and do not understand the reason for that?

Can it be explained, with sufficient analysis of the problem, the main issues of both sides, with givem heuristics about what would (or should) happen later in the game? Is there really a real advantage for one side, and why?

Edit: Now, after some thinking, I am of the opinion that this question is harder than it might seem to be, and, although much can be written and said about this starting configuration, I think that general consensus will not be so easy to establish. I am of the opinion that the White one is, generally, in advantage, but am unsure on how to prove that, and, someone with much more experience and games behind him/her could obtain some precise and thorough analysis. If someone is in close contact with masters of chess, and can ask them about an opinion, we could be closer to some conclusions. As for me, the more I think about this problem, the more hard it becomes to me.

• @Brian Thanks for the edit, but I thought of, and described, that one player starts with all figures except the queen and the other one with all figures except the 8 pawns. If that picture can be inserted instead of this one, it would give us a true question. Hoping that you will see this comment. Jun 26, 2019 at 21:03
• Yes, exactly that, thanks for the edit again, it is now what was meant to be. :) Jun 26, 2019 at 21:07
• OK, I've done that but I think the other version of your question makes more sense. The effect of having no pawns but a full complement of pieces is that Black's development is rapidly accelerated to the extent of making it no contest. Black can immediately move all his pieces without having to move pawns first. If neither side had minor pieces or rooks this advantage would go away and the contest would be more even. Jun 26, 2019 at 21:12
• @BrianTowers Yes, but the White one can build a strong wall of defense with pawns. And block Black one in different ways. Jun 26, 2019 at 21:14
• I suspect in the version with just a queen vs 8 pawns the queen would win easily. There would simply be too many checks that would allow the side with the queen to pick up the pawns before they advanced much. Jun 26, 2019 at 21:18

## 3 Answers

Other than the computer evaluation proving that the Q is better, the biggest problem here is that black basically starts out fully developed since his pieces already have amazing scope, and can quickly coordinate his forces, and attack.

The queen is better. Other than being worth 9 points (compared to the pawns' combined worth of 8 points), the queen is a single powerful unit. White can only move each of his pawns one at a time, making them collectively not nearly as strong as the queen. If White attempts to use all of his 8 pawns to combat the queen, it'll take him 8 moves on each "iteration" of moving all the pawns. The queen can do serious damage in this time.

For what it's worth, Stockfish gives roughly a -7 evaluation for the position you posted. Maybe this is a bit too high, but nevertheless Black's clearly winning.

• I am aware that the figures of Black can protect each other mutually very efficiently, and that they are on the "open" field, but, Black lacks a simple wall of pawns, the question for you is how would you break a defense of 8 pawns, placed carefully so that they are always guarded with knights and bishops and rooks? Jun 27, 2019 at 8:35
• @Grešnik Note that Black doesn't just get a "one pawn advantage" from this arrangement; in the opening, development and tempi are crucial factors, and without pawns blocking them, black's pieces are already ready for action from move 1, i.e. they're already developed for free. This is why black will be in time to crush white before white has the time to mount an effective defense. Sep 27, 2019 at 21:25
• @Scounged good point. Sep 28, 2019 at 23:07
• @Scounged And even if the side with the pawns had time, I don't trust they could mount an effective defense with their 8 pawns spread horizontally across the whole board. Sep 28, 2019 at 23:08

Black with Queen is computed as massive advantage. Therefore if white gets Queen he could get a quick or not so quick mate due to the extra tempo which counts a lot at game start. Surely this has been computed and it must give a bigger advantage to Queen team if not actual mate.