Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Knight

The knight is a fascinating chess piece with the unique property of being able to jump over other pieces. The knight makes L shaped jumps and lands on an opposite colored square to the one it starts from. The knight has 8 possible jumps when standing in the center of the board and 4 jumps when standing on the edge of the board.

The knight, as any other piece, has its strengths and weaknesses. It can be powerful when attacking the king, where Q+N and R+N are excellent attacking partners. It is good at protecting the king because it covers many squares of one color and after a jump it suddenly covers many squares of the opposite color. It holds the kingside together so to say.

When a knight is pushed deeply into the opponent's position it becomes strong and annoying. If white gets a knight to c6, d6, e6 or f6 and has it protected by a pawn, then it can be enough for victory. Several opening systems involve getting a white knight to d5 or e5 or f5, where such knights limit the opponent's space and also create opportunity for attacks.

In closed pawn structures the knight can be a strong pawn grabber. The knight can serve as a good blocker to an opponent's isolated passed pawn. The knight can become trapped at the edge of the board and become very weak because of this. For example the knight can be pushed back by pawns and end up on the first rank like a white knight trapped on h1 or a1. Also, a knight can be trapped on any edge of the board by an opponent bishop, for example on Na5 by Bd5.

In the endgame, the knight is bad at stopping passed pawns, probably because it has to jump and those jumps can be worthless when stopping passed pawns and also because they are short ranged and cannot stop passed pawns as fast as a bishop or a rook could. Typical case would be white playing 1.Rxe8+ Nxe8 2.d7 and the knight cannot stop the pawn and also the pawn creates the threat of grabbing the knight and at the same time promoting to a queen. If it were a bishop then it would reply Bxd7 and a rook would reply Rd8 but a knight has no good reply.