# Is the bishop pair and a pawn equivalent to knight and a rook?

In theory, rook (5) + knight (3) = 8 points.

And bishop (3.25) + bishop (3.25) + pawn (1) = 7.5 points.

For example, do you think black is better in the following scenario or do you believe white can hold with good play?

``````[fen "1n2k2r/ppp1pppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/2B1KB2 w - - 0 1"]
``````
• " As for rook and knight vs. two bishops and pawn, with nothing else but pawns on the board, the rook's side has a mild advantage, but add a rook to each side and the game is dead even. In general, with other pieces on the board, this imbalance should be considered even, with only a trivial edge for the rook's side. " danheisman.home.comcast.net/~danheisman/Articles/… Commented May 17, 2015 at 22:18
• " Many of the Classicists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century claimed that two bishops versus rook and knight were equivalent. I don’t believe that this is the case, i.e., I think the extra material will usually win out, but this view continues to influence chess thinking to some extent even today. " - Steve Mayer (1997) Commented May 23, 2015 at 13:18
• As per the specific position you give, Black is clearly for choice but White still has good chances of salvaging a draw. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 13:20

It's an oversimplification to think of the bishop pair to be worth 0.5 points on average. There are cramped positions where a bishop is barely better than a pawn. It's very difficult to generalize based on your question, it will vary greatly from position to position. But in case you're only interested in an "on average" answer, then the side with the rook has a slight edge.

• I think black's edge may be increased furthermore, if the pawn that is removed in the diagram above was a7 rather than the more valuable central d7 pawn. Commented May 20, 2015 at 14:46
• what makes you say rook and knight is better than bishop pair and pawn? i'm not saying you're wrong. i'm just saying like: cite your sources. currently downvoting since no references or examples
– BCLC
Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 2:23

It depends on the situation. Sometimes players lose 3 points, but have an advantage in position.

``````  [FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. b3 Bc5 3. f4 Nf6 4. fxe5 Nxe4 5. Qg4 Nf2 6. Qxg7 Rf8 7. d4 Nxh1 8. Nf3 Bb4+ 9. c3 Be7 10. Bh6 d5 11. Qxh7 Qd7 12. Bxf8 Bxf8  *
``````

Or for example this game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUr_gdKQ8j4

• Could you describe more closely what happened in the game you link to? Commented May 17, 2015 at 21:53

This is very situational. Generally, the side with the bishop pair is simply down the exchange.

• The bishop pair is worth 0.5 points on average. So you have to divide 0.5 from the value of the exchange. Commented May 17, 2015 at 21:49
• what makes you say rook and knight is better than bishop pair and pawn? i'm not saying you're wrong. i'm just saying like: cite your sources. currently downvoting since no references or examples
– BCLC
Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 2:23

" Adding the better cooperation of the rook with the bishops, many Soviet theoreticians believed that, in active positions, rook and two bishops outperform two rooks and a knight. "

• Doesn't the image say the opposite to what you wrote? Commented Jun 20, 2020 at 6:25
• @EspeciallyLime no i think you're right. currently downvoting for wrong inequality in image
– BCLC
Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 2:21

This position is equal or maybe White is slightly better. If there were open files it'd be a different story, though!