Good and Bad Pieces

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • | May 17, 2011

Each piece has its relative value. During the game it may vary depending on what position the piece occupies and what role it plays. It’s hard to win when some of your pieces are misplaced. Therefore, you should make sure all your pieces are taking part in the fight, and try to worsen the placement of opponent’s pieces.

Here are some general tips (as always in chess, there are exceptions) for each piece:

  1. King. Good: in the opening and middlegame it should be castled, safely protected by pawns; active in the endgame. Bad: exposed and uncastled in the opening and middlegame; locked out of the game or far away from the main action in the endgame.
  2. Queen. Good: active, participates in the main action, has lots of maneuvering space. Bad: passive, serves as a blocker for a pawn or a target for the opponent’s pieces.
  3. Rook. Good: placed on open files, 7-8th (1-2 for Black) ranks; doubled rooks are especially powerful. Bad: no open files and maneuvering space.
  4. Bishop. Good: there are open diagonals, attacks both flanks and has a nice “shooting range”. Bad: limited in maneuvering, blocked by pawns.
  5. Knight. Good: placed on key squares, e.g. in the centre or near the opponent’s king (e.g. on f5 if Black castles short). Bad: on the rim of the board, on the 1st or 8th rank.
  6. Pawn. Good: controls important squares and can potentially be promoted. Bad: isolated or doubled.

This is general advice, each particular position should be considered individually. Sometimes positional sacrifices occur that are connected with the dynamic strength of the pieces (when their value increases above their nominal value). Another important point is coordination of the pieces. Even if each piece is active on its own, but not coordinated and working together, their power decreases. The synergistic effect of well-coordinated pieces may often overpower armies composed of more valuable (in the nominal sense) pieces that aren’t cooperating well enough.

So, one of the main rules of chess is to keep all your pieces in the game (except for, maybe, the king). Always ask yourself a simple question: are all my pieces happy? If not, try to improve their placement. Coordinated pieces are much more powerful than lonely ones.

Rule #2 – try to worsen the position of your opponent’s pieces, hinder their coordination. One of the possible approaches is to limit the activity of the pieces and lock them out on one of the flanks, while attacking on the other. Create weaknesses in your opponent’s camp so that he/she has to guard them, thus limiting the activity of the pieces. The player who has more active well-coordinated forces is usually a clear favorite.

The following game has been played at the recent Russian Team Chess Championship vs WGM Vera Nebolsina.


Black didn’t simplify the position in time, so White’s chances for a win increased. I decided to exploit the weakness of Black’s dark-squared bishop and sacrificed a pawn. However, in time trouble I made a serious blunder by accidentally repeating the position thrice instead of twice.


  • 4 months ago


    On Monday July 20, 2015 I read this article and played through the moves. Thank you so much for this article!

  • 6 months ago


    Great game example

  • 9 months ago


    thanks for giving this game

  • 10 months ago


    Very helpful, thanks Natalia!

  • 11 months ago


    Nice article! The repetition was a sad fact.

  • 14 months ago


    Why not 6. Qc7  ? Does it not mate?

  • 19 months ago


    very interesting, thank you :)

  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Let’s stay in touch on social networks! Here are my official accounts:

    Account 1, Account 2, Account 3

  • 2 years ago


    This artical mentions having having "well-coordinated pieces".  This is a concept seems pretty basic, however it is not entirely clear to me.  I would appreciate it greatly if somebody could explain what it looks like for pieces to be working together as well as how to apply this concept in my own games.

    Thank you

  • 2 years ago




  • 3 years ago


    very interesting article, keep up the good work

  • 3 years ago


    Very good article.  I've always wondered in the past what it ment to "Make you opponents pieces less corrdinated" but this art. made it very clear.  thx!

  • 3 years ago


    How can somebody remember their game or is it given to them as sovenir 

  • 3 years ago


    Reading this article makes me want to read more and more other articles.

  • 3 years ago


    Ecellent article 

  • 3 years ago



  • 4 years ago


    Nice article, Thanksssssss...................

  • 4 years ago


    Conan would be proud for the word "thrice" being worked into the article.

  • 4 years ago


    Excellent article. Thank you.

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