The knight (♘ ♞) is a piece in the game of chess, representing a knight (armoured cavalry). It is normally represented by a horse's head and neck. Each player starts with two knights, which start on the rank closest to the player, one square from the corner. Expressed in algebraic notation, the white knights start on b1 and g1, while the black knights start on b8 and g8.
The knight move is unusual among chess pieces. When it moves, it can move two squares horizontally and one square vertically, or two squares vertically and one square horizontally. The complete move therefore looks like the letter 'L'. Unlike all other standard chess pieces, the knight can 'jump over' all other pieces (of either color) to its destination square. It captures an enemy piece by moving into its square. The knight's ability to 'jump over' other pieces means it is at its most powerful in closed positions, in contrast to that of a bishop. The move is one of the longest-surviving moves in chess, having remained unchanged since before the seventh century. Because of this it also appears in most chess-related national games. The knight moves alternately to white and black squares.
A knight should always be close to where the action is. Pieces are generally more powerful if placed near the center of the board, but this is particularly true for a knight. A knight on the edge of the board attacks only three or four squares (depending on its exact location) and a knight in the corner only two. Moreover, it takes more moves for a decentralized knight to switch operation to the opposite side of the board than a decentralized bishop, rook, or queen. The mnemonic phrases "A knight on the rim is grim" or "A knight on the rim is dim" are often used in chess instruction and reflect these features.
The knight is the only piece that can move at the beginning of the game before any pawn move has been made. Because of the above reasons, in most situations the best square for the initial move of each knight is one towards the center. Knights are usually brought into play slightly sooner than the bishops and much sooner than the rooks and the queen.
The knight is the only piece that can be in position to attack a king, queen, bishop, or rook without being reciprocally attacked by that piece. The knight is thus especially well-suited for executing a fork.
In the diagram at right, the numbers represent how many moves it takes for a knight to reach each square on the chess board from its location on the f5 square. Observing and even memorizing the patterns (diagonally 2-4-2-4-2-4, horizontally and vertically 3-2-3-2-3-2) helps making quick decisions in chess such as knowing where to move other pieces not to be in the direct 'fire' of the knight or even maneuvering the knight itself better.
A knight is approximately equal in strength and value to a bishop. The bishop's range is larger, but it is restricted to only half the squares on the board. Since the knight is capable of jumping over obstructing pieces, it is considered to be more valuable when the board is more crowded (closed positions). A knight is best when it has a 'support point' or outpost – a square that acts as relatively sheltered place for it to stop at and exert its strength remotely. On the fourth rank a knight is comparable in power to a bishop, and on the fifth it is often superior to the bishop, and on the sixth rank it can be a decisive advantage. This is assuming that the knight is taking part in the action; a knight on the sixth rank which is not doing anything useful is not a well-placed piece.
Full article ▸