Chess piece survival rates

Someone on digg posted a variant of this question on Quora: “What are the chances of survival of individual chess pieces on average.” In reply, Oliver Brennan, a chess aficionado and computer programmer, posted this answer:


Image credit: Oliver Brennan

Update (25 Oct. 2014): The excellent Ada Swanson interprets this probabilistic chess board as follows (emphasis ours):

The kings have the highest survival rate … because they can’t be taken. Rooks also tend to be hardy because they spend a lot of time at the back of the board and are generally more active in endgames. The knights and central pawns have the lowest survival rates. Many popular openings involve d and e pawns undertaking suicide missions, which are sometimes counter-attacked with c pawns. The wing pawns have a higher survival rate, prompting one forum user to comment …, “If you can’t be the king, be the little guy hiding in the corner.”

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
This entry was posted in Probability, Questions Rarely Asked and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Chess piece survival rates

  1. chessmusings says:

    Reblogged this on Chess Musings and commented:

  2. The Professor's Wife says:

    Did the movie “Fresh” inspire you to write about chess?

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  5. duggyswift says:

    The most interesting thing is that A1=/H8. This implies that the position of one’s King affects the relative chances of survival of one’s pieces. For example, the lower player on the above board has an average survival chance of 55.4% for his Rooks, which is merely 55% for his opponent. How do they decide who gets which color in professional chess?

    • Chess says:

      Color is randomized. You alternate in world championship match, in a tournament you alternate between playing white and black with the color in the first game random and the higher ranked players color winning out if the computer cannot pair two people with the same score and opposite color.

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  15. Reblogged this on prior probability and commented:

    I posted “Chess piece survival rates” here five years ago. Enjoy!

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