Capture higher valued piece

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Capture one of your opponent's pieces, which is of higher value than the capturing piece.

Let's start with capturing your opponent's pieces.

In chess, usually the player with more pieces is going to win the game. However not all pieces are equal. For example, a queen is much better than a rook, and a rook is usually much better than a knight. How can you assess a position where both sides have different kind of pieces? For example, if one side has a queen, and the other side has a rook, a bishop, and a pawn? To keep track of this, we can estimate the value of each piece in pawns, according to the following table:

Piece Approximate value in pawns
Pawn 1
Knight 3
Bishop 3
Rook 5
Queen 9

The king is not included in this table, because it cannot be legally captured.

In chess, the sum of the value of all your pieces is called “material”. According to this table, if one side has a queen, and the other side has a rook, a bishop, and a pawn, the material is approximately equal. In most cases, a material advantage of two pawn values or more is sufficient to win the game. We call this a “winning material advantage”. For example, being two pawns ahead, or being up a Rook for a knight, are winning material advantages.

If you capture a higher-valued piece, you are always going to win material. It doesn’t even matter if the piece you are capturing is protected, as even if the piece making the capture is subsequently recaptured, you are still going to come out ahead.

Examples

White can capture the knight on c6 with the pawn on d5: 1. dxc6. The knight is worth three pawns, so even though black can recapture the pawn on the next move with Bxc6, white has made a gain worth two pawns and has a winning material advantage.

Black can capture the bishop on e4 with the pawn on f5: 1...fxe4. The bishop is worth three pawns, so no matter if White recaptures or not, Black has made a gain worth at least two pawns and has a winning material advantage.

Note that Black should not capture the bishop with the queen. The queen is worth nine pawns, and after the recapture with the rook, Black would be losing material.

Visualization

When you start playing chess, you will have to look at each of your pieces in turn and take note of each opponent piece that they can capture. Many games of beginners are decided by taking opportunity when they can capture an opponent's piece.

With some practice, you will be able to spot the possible captures at a glance, and you will see winning captures immediately. Not only will you be able to win against beginners easily, this practice will enable you to see more and more advanced tactics. You can learn many advanced tactics later in Puzzle Academy.

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