I've read a few variations on the relative value of chess pieces ( Q=9, R=5, N=3, B=3, P=1 ), but I've yet to encounter a variation in value according to the side of the board the piece is on. With regard to rooks, bishops and knights, might there be a a different inherent value whether on kingside or queenside? For instance, I've always found a greater value to kingside bishops because of their inherent nature of attacking the opposing king's squares before and after castling.

Has anyone seen any documented systems based on this idea? I'm not looking for speculation.


5 Answers 5


I don't think that there's any value to where the pieces start, but the value of the pieces changes drastically depending on where they are on the board at a given time.

For example, a white knight on d6 that can't be exchanged off is usually considered to be worth a rook. Similarly, if black has castled kingside with pawns on f7, g6, and h7, and white has an unopposed dark square bishop, that bishop can be worth a rook (at least) if white can attack the black king.

The only pieces that are inherently different are the bishops (one light, one dark), but they're still equal until the pawn structure has been determined. A bishop is usually strong when the opponent's pawns are on its color (so they can be attacked) and the friendly pawns are on the opposite color (so they don't get in the way).


To the best of my understanding, in modern chess, the real values of pieces (or rather, the playing side as a whole) are largely dependent on the following factors: function (are they optimally poised to carry out particular goal(s)?), coordination between pieces (are they working together to fulfil multiple aims or getting into one another's way?), number of weaknesses inherent in the position (determined largely by pawn structure), tactics (although this can be explained by the earlier factors), and finally, the raw value of the individual pieces.

So the assignment of numeric values to individual pieces is relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things, at least for players who are past the point of giving away pawns or minor pieces for nothing. Those values only serve as a rough gauge (e.g. bishop and knight are comparable in terms of value, but not identical in that regard), among other factors to be considered for the proper assessment of any given position.


Pieces don't change value based on whether they are on the queen or kingside. They increase in value (based on placement) for other reasons.

For instance, former world champion Capablanca said in "Chess Fundamentals" said that getting a rook on the seventh rank was well worth a sacrificed pawn, and his opponent would do well to draw, even with a pawn ahead. In this case, a rook, normally worth five points, is worth at least six. Capablanca also said that a passed pawn was sufficient to win a game (all other things being equal). So a passed pawn might be worth two points instead of one. Likwise, a knight in a "hole" at e4, e5, e6, or d4, d3, d6 would be worth more than usual, perhaps four points, rather than three. Most masters would say that a "bishop pair" in an open position against a bishop and knight, or two knights is worth least seven points, not six.


I don't think that there's a system to value pieces based on that. As you get into the middle and endgame, the position dictates the relative value of the pieces and not the side that they started on. Do a search on good knight vs. bad bishop. Also take a look at Silman's books "How to Reassess your Chess" which discusses imbalances as a way of evaluating a position instead of a pure material assessment.


Other than the classical 9,5,3,3,1 valuation of the pieces, there are many more, as in this Wikipedia article. But these still don't vary with the position of these pieces at the start or in later stages of the game. However, most any computer chess engine will vary these values according to the position of the pieces.

Even outside of computer chess, it's not unheard of for some to suggest that and a or h pawn is worth as little as 75% or even 50% of a pawn on the d or e files, and so on. For example, one chess maxim says you should usually recapture with a pawn -towards the center-.

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