# Is it better to start without 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, 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). The one is starting his game without 8 pawns and with a queen, and the other one without a queen and with 8 pawns. Who is, generally, in advantage?

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

I think that players here can answer this question very rigorously and with 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 you explain, with sufficient analysis of the problem, main issues of one and of the other side, give heuristics about what would (or should) happen later in the game, is there really a real advantage of 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. – Grešnik Jun 26 '19 at 21:03
• Yes, exactly that, thanks for the edit again, it is now what was meant to be. :) – Grešnik Jun 26 '19 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. – Brian Towers Jun 26 '19 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. – Grešnik Jun 26 '19 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. – Qudit Jun 26 '19 at 21:18

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.

• @David, when it is over +7, it is certainly what most people would consider practical proof. Downvoting me for that? Wow. Most normal people do not try to parse other people's words so closely. My suggestion: See if you can still help President Clinton determine what the meaning of "is" is. – PhishMaster Sep 30 '19 at 14:19
• During President Bill Clinton's impeachment proceedings, when asked a question, he responded with "“It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." It was a pretty stupid response since everyone knows what the question meant. I have owned a computer company for 24 years, and I was one of the first experts with ChessBase, so I am quite expert with engines, and this is NOT a position that the computer is not reliable. I could give a line, but since there are so many variables, we could debate that all day. It is enough to say that Stockfish evals this at -7.43 at a depth of 26. – PhishMaster Sep 30 '19 at 16:06
• I really suggest that you plug it in and play the computer versus itself for a few games. I just did, and what happens is that even with white moving first, he soon loses more material and the eval climbs well over 10. Black just plays normal moves like Nc6, Qd5 (hitting a2), Nf6, and it is over soon enough. – PhishMaster Sep 30 '19 at 16:09
• Yes, and the problem is that in chess, nothing can be proven like a math proof, which means that you have to rely on expert opinion. If we had to take the opinion of 100 experts, I dare say that I would beat you at least 99 to 1. Like I said, go test it yourself, and get back to me. It is not even close. – PhishMaster Sep 30 '19 at 16:23
• I have had enough stupidity. I'm done discussing this. – PhishMaster Oct 1 '19 at 15:25

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? – Grešnik Jun 27 '19 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. – Scounged Sep 27 '19 at 21:25
• @Scounged good point. – Inertial Ignorance Sep 28 '19 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. – Inertial Ignorance Sep 28 '19 at 23:08