The 10 Chess Pieces Least Likely to Survive a Game

The 10 Chess Pieces Least Likely to Survive a Game

| 53 | Fun & Trivia

Most of us have our favorite openings to play, and lots of players know their favorite chess piece.

Despite our preferences and best intentions, though, most of the actual pieces on the chessboard don’t survive to the end of the game.

Chess is a brutal game of captures, exchanges, and sacrifices. It’s not uncommon to throw pieces and pawns away to achieve a greater goal.

So which chess pieces and pawns are the least likely to survive until the end of the game?

A Quora user asked this exact question recently.  Oliver Brennan, a chess amateur and programmer (according to his profile), provided a brilliant answer by sampling data from 2.2 million master-level chess games

Based on Brennan’s data, here are the 10 pieces and pawns least likely to survive a chess game. 

(Also check out the MOST likely pieces to survive.)

10. Black’s Dark Bishop: 35.43% Chance of Survival

by Joel Kramer

Black's dark-square bishop is often the more aggressively placed bishop, and its early development spells its doom in nearly two-thirds of all games. 

9. Black’s c-Pawn: 34.28% Chance of Survival

by Alan Cleaver

Black's c-pawn is frequently exchanged for White's d-pawn, especially in popular openings like the Sicilian. Getting in a timely c5 push is usually good for Black, but it means that the hapless c-pawn doesn't make it to many endgames. 

8. Black’s Light Bishop: 34.09% Chance of Survival

By Angelo DeSantis

Black's light-squared bishop has even worse a chance of surviving than its dark-squared counterpart. This bishop is often swapped for White's powerful attacking light bishop. 

7. White’s Dark Bishop: 32.45% Chance of Survival

by DeerSlayer 

White's dark-squared bishop is often exchanged with its Black counterpart, leaving a slim chance of survival to the end of the game.

6. Black’s d-Pawn: 31.73% Chance of Survival

by Alejandro Greene

The center pawns, in general, are usually doomed early in the game. Fighting for control of critical territory means that most central pawns are expendable. 

5. Black’s b-Knight: 28.21% Chance of Survival

by Little Sadie

Knights can jump over other pieces, so they can quickly advance to the center of any skirmish on the chessboard. Knights are often traded for other knights, leading to double the piece carnage. Black's b-knight actually survives the most often of all the cavalry, but only at a rate of 28 percent. 

4. White’s b-Knight: 27.05% Chance of Survival

by brefoto

White's b-Knight usually finds its way to c3 or d2, and often those squares are its last safe resting point before being traded for an opposing knight or bishop. 

3. White’s g-Knight: 26.95% Chance of Survival

by Alla Ischenko

From its perch on f3, this knight is often the earliest-developed piece on the board. It's no surprise, then, that it survives in less than 27 percent of all chess games. 

2. Black’s g-Knight: 25.95% Chance of Survival

by Uckhet

Black's key defensive knight barely makes it to a quarter of all ended games, usually trading itself for the safety of the Black king.

1. White’s d-Pawn: 24.45% Chance of Survival

By Auntie P 

White's d-pawn is the least likely survivor of all, perishing in more than 75 percent of all games. This pawn is usually traded for Black's c-pawn, and it's unusual for this central pawn to make it past the opening.

Let us know your thoughts on piece survival rate (and the reasons behind it) in the comments or on Facebook.


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