Is a bishop and rook better than a queen in most endgames with pawns still on the board?

I'm aware that bishop and rook is technically 1 point of material less than a queen, however, would the fact that there are two pieces versus one make up for this?

  • The fact that they are two pieces is generally something that works against the rook and bishop vs. the queen. This is because of the need to coordinate them, which doesn't exist for a single piece like the queen.
    – Scounged
    May 7 at 10:16

3 Answers 3


According to GM John Nunn in his book Understanding Chess Endgames:

A queen is usually worth more than a rook and a minor piece, but whether this material imbalance offers winning chances depends very much on the position.

He gives two examples, one where the side with the queen wins and one where it is a draw. The key factor, he says, is the relative stability of the bishop - whether it can find a safe outpost where it can't be dislodged by a pawn. In the first game the bishop never finds a safe outpost and eventually loses.

[Title "Kramnik - Shirov, Wijk am Zee 1999"]
[fen "r5k1/p3pp1p/6p1/2b5/4P3/5Q2/P4PPP/6K1 w - - 0 1"]

1. Qc3 Rc8 2. Kf1 Rc7 3. a4 Bb6 4. Qe5 Rc2 5. a5 Bc5 (5... Rxf2+ 6. Ke1 Be3 7. Qxe7 Rc2 8. e5 {is also unpleasant for white}) 6. f4 e6 7. g4 Rc4 8. Qc7 h6 9. f5 gxf5 10. gxf5 exf5 11. exf5 f6 12. Qg3+ Kf8 13. Qg6 Bd4 14. Qxh6+ Ke7 15. Qf4 Kd7 16. h4 Ra4 17. Qe4 Kd6 18. h5 Ra1+ 19. Ke2 Be5 20. Qb4+ Kd5 21. Qb7+ Kc4 22. h6 Ra2+ 23. Kf3 1-0

In the second game black has a good, safe outpost on c4.

[Title "Nunn - Khurtsidze, Lucerne 1999"]
[fen "r5k1/5p1p/4bp2/1p2p3/4P3/8/2P2PPP/3Q2K1 w - - 0 1"]

1. g4 h6 2. Kg2 Kg7 3. Kg3 Ra4 4. f3 Ra8 5. Qd2 Re8 6. h4 Bc4 7. Qd7 (7. f4 exf4+ 8. Kxf4 Re5 {and black has a fortress}) Re6 8. Kf2 Ra6 9. Qe7 Re6 10. Qd8 Ba2 11. Ke3 Bc4 12. Kd2 Ba2 13. Kc3 Bc4 14. Qd2 Ba2 15. Kb4 Bc4 16. Qf2 Ra6 17. Qg3 Re6 18. Kc5 Kg6 19. Qg2 Kg7 20. Qd2 Kg6 21. Qg2 Kg7 22. g5 fxg5 23. hxg5 hxg5 24. Qxg5+ Kf8 25. Qg2 Rg6 26. Qh2 Re6 27. Qh8+ Ke7 28. Qg8 Rg6 29. Qb8 Re6 30. Qh8 Bf1 31. Qh1 1/2-1/2

and white can't break through.


Generally the opposite is true -- in most cases, a queen is preferable to a rook and bishop. You mentioned having two pieces versus one, but splitting up the queen's powers into two pieces is actually a disadvantage (usually). That's why a rook and bishop is considered around 8 while a queen is 9.


As usual, it depends. In addition, here is a situation (had it in praxis myself) where two figures are better: Passers (own as well as enemy). R+N can force through an own passer (R+B less, the old block-on-bishops-blind-color problem) as well as safely block an enemy passer.

Also as usual, all modulo unstable pieces (which tend to become queen snack).

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