Chess: Strategy, Piece Placement

One of the key elements of chess strategy is figuring out where the pieces go to achieve maximum strength. Obviously it depend on what else is going on the board, and in rare cases you achieve what is considered "good" position and it does not actually help as much as hoped. That said in general landing your pieces on the right squares makes a huge difference in how effective your pieces are as opposed to your opponents. It's also the case when the tactic break out, if you have well positioned pieces and your opponents do not, it often "happens" that the tactics work out in your favor. So that said, where do the pieces go:
Knights: The knight is a short range piece, it generally does well when it is pushed in the enemies face, and poorly when not. You don't want to spend a bunch of tempo moving a knight around just to trade it off, and you also don't want to move it to an awesome square, only to get chased away by a pawn. The best knights cannot be traded off, and are sitting on a central square that cannot be attacked by a pawn. Assuming we are white, the best squares are e5, d5, e6, d6. The worst knights are on the edge of the board or pushed into a corner where they just don't attack many squares (if a knight is literally in the corner, it only attacks 2 squares, as opposed to 8 squares if it is in the middle of the board. It’s far less likely to be doing anything useful attacking so few squares). The famous "A knight on the rim is dim" is pretty true. This will be a recurring theme, if a piece attacks a boatload of squares and cannot be threatened by a lower value piece, that's awesome, if it does not attack many squares or it can be chased away than it's not very valuable.
This is a good knight:
Bishops: Unlike knights, bishops have great range. They don’t need to be in the middle of the action to be useful, they just need a nice long open diagonal. It’s nice if they are pointed at a juicy target like a castled king, but they can be strong on any long diagonal.  The downside is of course that they only ever play on one color, and if they get trapped behind a chain of your pawns they become a “bad bishop”. Sometimes a bad bishop is only technical bad, and it’s waiting for the pawn structure to change to come exploding out, and sometimes having a bad bishop is like being a piece down. Certain openings hinge a great deal around the bad bishop (e.g. the French), can black free his piece? Or will the inferior bishop haunt him the whole game? In general you want to try pretty hard to avoid trading your good bishop for your opponent’s bad bishop.
Strong Bishops:
Bad Bishop:
Rooks: Rooks go on open files, and in general they are on open files with the intent to move them into the opponent’s position, either the 7th or the 8th rank (assuming we are playing white). Weirdly the 7th is often stronger than the 8th, although in some cases the opponent is vulnerable to a back rank mate, or has loose pieces on the back rank for whatever reason. On the 7th rank they run around snapping up pawns, and often can threaten mate. The only thing better than one rook on the 7th is two rooks on the 7th, sometimes called “pigs on the 7th”. When I was first learning chess, for whatever reason I believed the advice about bishops and knights, but I thought the rook advice was too weirdly specific. There are games where getting two rooks on the 7th does not win outright, but it’s a tremendous advantage.
Rooks controlling the open file:
White has a weak back rank:
Rook on the 7th:
Pigs on the 7th:


Here is a game that starts with a bad bishop from my opponent, I managed to put a knight on a strong outpost, then he manages to badly sideline one of his knight, and then finally opens up the position, which turns my rooks into monsters. My light square bishop has been sitting on a long diagonal "doing nothing" all game, but "suddenly" finds itself well placed for the final attack.

It's funny that chess strategy so often just boils down to taking full advantage of your pueces. Phone Post 3.0

PatriarchyManifest - It's funny that chess strategy so often just boils down to taking full advantage of your pueces. Phone Post 3.0
Oops. Hit submit too soon.

I was saying that it's funny to me how much of chess strategy just boils down to taking full advantage of your pieces range. They say that controlling the center is one of the keys to playing well and I guess it took me this long to realize that one of the biggest advantages is that pieces in the middle typically are able to make full use of their range. Phone Post 3.0

....and subbed for later Phone Post 3.0





Here is a great example of Fischer getting rooks on the 7th (or in this case the 2nd):
Not two rooks on the 7th, but the one that gets there does an awful lot of work:

In Phone Post 3.0

This next game is an interesting take on the bad bishop. White makes a series of moves that get his dark square bishop trapped on it's starting square, and while it's sitting there it entombs his rook so that he plays most of the game down a piece and a rook.

It also has my recommendation for 2. Bc4 if you happen to play the Sicilian (when I had a lower rating, I would see this line a great deal)

. Phone Post 3.0



Up for Minger

Thanks, Chis!

I'm noticing that higher rated players use their rooks earlier and more aggressively than myself. I do try and find an open file for them, but am probably too tentative about getting them into the fray and they tend to sit on the back rank until late in the game. Phone Post 3.0