Power, Influence, and Value

Sep 20, 2010, 3:50 PM |


Chess : The value of a piece is really based on how many squares it actively controls.

Life: The more influence over people you have the more power you have.

Both: Value means nothing, it is influence over others that really counts. That is power.


Not to sound too machiavellian, but chess is a great way to learn principles of life. Yes, it is true, I can have all the value in the world, but what really counts is how much influence I have. 


My inspiration for this blog came from the following reference


Taken from GM Dejan Bojkov “Nominal and Absolute Power of the Pieces”


Question: With white to move, what would be the best to do with White’s Rook? Move it to the A file with the hope of capturing the A pawn? Or Leave the Rook on the B file?





Answer: Leave the Rook on the B file. The reasoning, the rook is far more valuable on the B file because it controls more squares and has the potential to control more squares. If you gave this open file up to the black rook you would be reducing the value of the white rook and increasing the value of the black rook.


Question: In this same position, what should white be thinking?


Answer: White should be thinking of moving the king to F1, with the intention of E1, D2, D3. The king on the D3 square would protect the B2 square. Protecting that square would prevent the black rook from gaining access to the second row. Thus by increasing the squares the King has access to and restricting the squares the black rook can access, the value of the white pieces would then increase. Now the white rook would be free to pawn hunt because the increase in value of the black rook gaining the open B file would be greatly reduced.


Question: in this position below, what should black’s plan be?




Answer: Black should consider sacrificing the bishop. Although black is ahead in material (12 pawns to 9 pawns), the black rook is ineffective. The black rook is actually worth a lot less right now, it cannot gain access to any squares, so its value is significantly less. As it stands now, black is losing even though it only has material advantage.