I have been hearing the term LPDO (Loose Pieces Drop Off) a lot lately, which apparently is helping players in the beginning level. If so, does it prescribe some best practices and tips to help beginners?

3 Answers 3


LPDO (Loose Pieces Drop Off) is a reminder that unprotected pieces are vulnerable to tactics like forks. If two unprotected pieces (or pawns) are attacked at the same time then you can only move / protect one of them. One of your loose pieces is going to drop off.

In general this is used to guide weaker players to try and build up their position prophylactically so that pieces as much as possible protect each other. Stronger players, of course, can also come unstuck which is why you also hear this phrase occasionally made by commentators on GM games.


Excellent advice here from Brian and Hauke. Another important lesson is that tactics are important at all levels of play, not only for beginners. You won't ever reach a stage where you've "fixed" the problem: even if you have a master-level understanding of strategy, you still need to be on the guard for basic tactics.

The term was made popular by John Nunn's book "Secrets of Practical Chess". He describes a friendly match of 100 rapid games where he beat a 2300-rated player by 88-12:

"I thought that I would see lots of advanced strategic concepts in these games but actually all I have learnt is LPDO" ... During the remaining games I saw what he meant. Most of the games were decided by relatively simple tactics involving undefended pieces, when the LP would duly DO.


Brian's answer gives you the "why". I will add a bit of "when not", as this, as usual, is a rule of thumb which happily may be ignored by a stronger player. Thus, the limitations of the rule...

  • Does not help at all against attacks of pesky pawns (assuming "piece" meant "officer") or more generally, light force kicking your heavies around.
  • Overprotecting everything makes your position somewhat cramped.
  • Protection is a liability that limits the agility. Good luck mating with each and any piece protected at all times!
  • Might be in clash with other rules of thumb. E.g. using the "bulls head" (e4 d4 Nc3 Nf3 Rd1 Re1) your bishops must go to b5 and g5 by this rule, which are usual good squares anyway, but sometimes c4 and f4 are fine or even better. BTW, in the latter case protecting them with pawns to b3/g3 by the rule is more often a bad idea than not!

Also as usual, don't worry - eventually you get stronger and know by yourself when and how to follow the rule in spirit, not in letter.


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