The 10 Chess Pieces Most Likely to Survive a Game

The 10 Chess Pieces Most Likely to Survive a Game

| 35 | Fun & Trivia

Last week, we looked at which chess pieces and pawns were least likely to make it to the end of a chess game.

Unsurprisingly, the central pawns and belligerent knights were the least likely to survive, regardless of the game’s opening.

What if we are attached to our beloved chess pieces, though, and want to know which of them will be most likely to last to the game’s ending?

Oliver Brennan, a chess amateur and programmer, answered a recent Quora question by sampling data from 2.2 million master-level chess games

Based on Brennan’s data, here are the 10 pieces and pawns most likely to survive a chess game. (Kings don’t count, since they never leave the board during a game.)

10. Black's b-Pawn: 55.99% Chance of Survival

by Alan Cleaver

You'll see that pawns dominate this survivability list, and we start out with Black’s b-pawn, which often sits safely at home while its neighbor, the c-pawn, goes to war.

9. Black’s f-Pawn: 58.32% Chance of Survival


Black’s f-pawn enjoys a relatively serene life compared to its symmetrical counterpart, the aggressive c-pawn. The f-pawn, of course, often protects the castled king, and often lasts to the end of the game.

8. White's b-Pawn 59.33% Chance of Survival

by Matt M

White’s b-pawn doesn’t see a lot of early action. While the kingside pawns are guarding the castled king, and the central pawns are fighting for crucial space, the white queenside pawns are often biding their time till the endgame.

7. White's f-Pawn 59.89% Chance of Survival

By Emily Smith

White’s f-pawn has a few crucial supportive roles that let it survive a relatively long time. On f2, it protects the castled king. If it advances to f3, it keeps an eye on the important e4 square.

6. Black’s a-Pawn: 65.91% Chance of Survival

By KieranBall

Wing pawns are ideally placed to survive to the end of the game. They’re a long way from the brutal battle in the center, and they are often supported by rooks in the endgame.

5. Black’s g-Pawn: 66.33% Chance of Survival

By Manolis B

Black’s g-pawn is often part of a powerful fianchetto formation, where it advances one square and is immediately defended by both its neighboring pawns. This makes the pawn all but untouchable to would-be capturing pieces, and it survives nearly two-thirds of all games. 

4. White’s a-Pawn: 66.61% Chance of Survival


White’s a-pawn is about as far away from the chess action as you can get. Maybe it advances to a4 in a positional idea, but normally this pawn remains safe straight through to the end of the game — maybe even queening after waiting so patiently. 

3. White’s g-Pawn: 69.02% Chance of Survival

via flickr

The g-pawns tend to survive a long time, as they are often fianchettoed and are usually the most important guardians of the king’s castled position. If the g-pawn is a goner, the king might not be far behind. 

2. Black’s h-Pawn: 72.29% Chance of Survival

via selettiboutique

The h-pawns have two huge survival boosts: they are far away from the battle for the center, and they are often part of the castled king’s phalanx of guardians. 

1. White’s h-Pawn: 73.92% Chance of Survival

via etsy

White’s h-pawn is the piece most likely to survive the entire chess game, lasting just a hair under three-quarters of all games. This hardy pawn protects the king in the middlegame and is often a crucial player in the endgame.

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


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