The strength of a particular piece or combination of pieces depends on the specific position on the board, as well as the overall strategy and tactics of the game. It is important to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of both sides and make the best use of the available pieces to achieve a favorable position.
As we know, the value of each piece depends on its mobility, the potential threats it poses, and its ability to control the board. The rough value of a bishop and a knight is the same – 3 points – but this general rule has many exceptions that will be described below.
When are bishops stronger than knights?
The answer is simple in pawnless endgames:
- You can enforce a checkmate with a king and two bishops against a king.
- You cannot enforce a checkmate with a king and two knights against a king.
But what about a much more complicated middlegame or an endgame with many pawns?
In general, the bishop pair is considered stronger than a knight pair in chess, particularly in open positions where the bishops can utilize their long-range mobility to control more squares on the board.
When are knights stronger than bishops?
However, there are some situations where a knight may be stronger, such as in closed positions with many pawns on the board, where the knight can jump over the pawns and reach a strong outpost. It is particularly important in a knight versus bishop situation, with pawns of both colors only on one flank. See a typical endgame that meets these important criteria:
- Both players have pawns on only one side of the board.
- The knight occupies a stable outpost.
- The black pawns stand on the same color squares as the black bishop.
- The white pawns are located on the opposite color squares, so the bishop cannot attack them.
- The white king has a free route to get behind the enemy lines.