Queen vs. 2 Rooks

Queen vs. 2 Rooks‎

NM SmarterChess
25 | Strategy

Do you prefer a queen or two rooks?  Everyone knows a rook is five points and a queen is nine points.  5+5 > 9 so the rooks should be a full pawn better, right?

GM Larry Kaufman, who is an expert at computer chess, has determined the rooks are worth 5.25 a piece while the queen is worth 10.  This brings that difference down to half a pawn.  Recently in a blitz game I came across the following position as Black.


Do I take the bishop with 13...Bxf4, or find another plan?  I took the bait and went for the material imbalance.  After a few poor choices White activated his queen and knight which left me in a losing position.

When you have the two rooks it's important for them to have open files as well as enemy targets (usually pawns).  Rooks don't play defense so well against an active queen.  It's critical to have a safe king when you have the rooks which is true in this game.  White executed the correct plan by attacking and weakening my king position. 

You will see at move 16 I put an example of how the game could have continued if I had played more aggressively with my rooks.

There's some food for thought next time you see a chance to reach this type of imbalance.  The side with the two rooks needs to have a safe king, open files for the rooks, and pawn targets for the rooks.  The side with the queen needs to attack the enemy king.

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