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The Principle of Force
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complik
03-Mar-09, 18:52

The Principle of Force
... as told in Chess the Easy Way by Reuben Fine

The Principle of Force= The player who is ahead in material should win.

1. What reasons are there to validate our first and, in a sense, most basic principle? As we all know K+Q
vs. K, K+B+N vs. K etc., are forced wins, that, when we get to such a point at the end of the game,
regardless of how black plays, he must lose. Similarly we shall see later on that in a large number of
cases King and Pawn vs. King is just as easy a win as the mates. How can we extend these findings to all
parts of the game? The answer to this is to be found in experience and in the history of the game. By
examining the published records, by trying it ourselves, we soon become convinced that with best play an
advantage in material, no matter how insignificant, will inevitably lead to checkmate.
To the question, "How much force is required?" we must reply that even one lowly Pawn is enough at
the beginning or in the middle of the game. For such a Pawn may always metamorphize into a Queen.
Nevertheless, while this is theoretically certain, in practice the exploitation of such a minimal plus
At this point the objection may be raised that K+B vs. K is not a win, so that there seem to be cases
when the theory falls down. This is, however, true only because we have reached the end of the game.
For this stage we must set up the additional proviso that the minimum amount of material essential to win
against the lone King is either 1) a Queen, 2) a Rook, 3) 2 Bishops, 4) Bishop and Knight, 5) Pawn, or 6)
Bishop (or Knight, or 2 Knights) and Pawn. The first four always lead to checkmate while the last two are
subject to some exceptions.
Since there are six different kinds of pieces it is necessary to set up a table of equivalents in order to
be able to know whether an exchange is favorable or not. Again such a table is based partly on the
elementary mates (R can mate, B or N cannot) and partly on practice. If we take the Pawn as 1 we may
set up a table such as this:

Pawn=1
Bishop (or Knight) =3
Rook=5
Queen=9

This is satisfactory for rough calculation but is not as accurate as the following:

Queen is equivalent to {Three pieces plus pawn or Rook plus Knight (or   plus Pawn

Two Rooks are equivalent to {Queen plus Pawn or Three minor pieces

One Rook is equivalent to {Bishop or Knight plus two Pawns or five Pawns

Two Minor Pieces are equivalent to Rook plus two Pawns
One piece is equivalent to three Pawns
A good deal of the beauty of chess derives from combinations where material is sacrificed. Such
combinations do not invalidate the theory; on the contrary they most emphatically confirm it. For when
the principle is not adhered to there is a specific reason for the deviation. We sacrifice a Pawn to get a
bind on the enemy position, or we give up a piece for a mating attack, or we offer the exchange (Rook for
minor piece) to prevent the opponent from castling. In all such cases we recognize the validity of the
principle but feel that some greater good may be gained by not sticking to the cut and dried rules.

-Reuben Fine
International Grandmaster
Seven-Time US open champion
Author of Chess the Easy Way,Modern Chess Openings Revised, Basic Chess Endings, and others.
Rewritten by Complik

I hope you enjoyed this small chapter of my favorite book. Until next time,
Noah