Which is better – Queen or Two Rooks?

You might often find yourselves in positions where a crucial decision needs to be made. Without thorough knowledge, the choices might look confusing!

One such situation is deciding which one is better – a queen or two rooks?

The two options are so confusing that if Shakespeare had been a chess player, the famous quote would have been – “To sac or not to sac – that is the question?

Have you faced this problem where you had to choose between a queen or two rooks? Did you not know how to make the decision and chose the wrong option?

Don’t worry, here we will simplify this concept for you.

The Dilemma Between Queen and Two Rooks

As a rule, you know that the queen is the most powerful piece on the board. It can control a vast number of squares.

So the most logical answer to the above question would be – “Duh! The queen is obviously better!” However, that’s far from the truth.
From the perspective of piece strength, a queen is of 9 points whereas two rooks are of 5+5=10 points. So according to this view, two rooks must be

But is that all there is to consider? Definitely not!

To make this choice, you need to think of 5 factors

  1. How open is the position?
  2. How safe are the kings?
  3. How many pawns are there on the board?
  4. Are there any minor pieces on the board?
  5. How well coordinated are the pieces?

Let’s take them into consideration, one by one.

1. How open is the position?

You can understand whether the position is open or not by seeing how flexibly your pieces can move. Usually, such a position of choosing between the queen and two rooks occurs during the late middlegame or endgame phase. This means that more often than not, the position will be pretty open. In such open positions, the rooks perform better than the queen. This is because they have a lot of space to move around and create threats while supporting each other.

However, if the two rooks are not well coordinated, then the queen might be superior. This is because the queen can move faster than the rooks, and create double or multiple threats at once.

2. How safe are the kings?

King’s safety is the most important factor while evaluating any position. After all, chess is about checkmating, right?

As a general rule, the more safe the king is, the better the rooks perform. That’s because the rooks can then attack the opponent’s weakness, support pawn advancements without worrying about the king being checkmated.

On the other hand, if the king is unsafe, it’s easier for the queen to create targets and attack. This is also where the threat of double attack increases. But a lone queen cannot deliver a checkmate. So it often needs the help of a pawn or two to create deadly threats.

3. How many pawns are there on the board?

Usually, if there are pawns on both sides of the board, and the rooks aren’t well coordinated, the queen is likely to grab a few of them. Once again, that’s because of the queen’s fast movement across the board.

On the other hand, if a side has a passed pawn supported by rooks, the side with the queen can be in a hopeless position. The queen is a bad defender and it hates to block lowly pawns. That’s because it restricts her ability to move across the board freely.

Fewer the pawns on board, the stronger the 2 rooks. That’s because lesser the targets, the more active a role the rooks can play. In such a case, the side with the queen tries to create a defensive fortress ー a position through which the attacking rooks can’t break through.

4. Are there any minor pieces on board?

It is well known that the queen functions really well with the knight. Similarly, the rooks work excellently with the bishop. Hence, the presence of these minor pieces might create a difference.

Here, the side which has the active pieces and lesser weaknesses usually keeps the advantage.

5. How well coordinated are the pieces?

Piece coordination is of utmost importance. It can make or break a position, and thereby the game.

The two rooks need to be really well coordinated so as to claim the advantage. Due to the flexibility of the queen’s movement, she can access both flanks much quicker than the rooks. Hence, in closed positions where rooks aren’t working well together, the queen is superior.

What is the final verdict?

As a general rule, the two rooks are better than the queen. Apart from a few exceptional positions, the two rooks work together far superior than the queen alone.

But often for amateurs, exploiting the advantage of 2 rooks against a queen is difficult. Coordinating the rooks, creating play with them is an art.
The key is to increase your familiarity with such positions, and practice them with a playing partner.

At our academy, our experienced coaches do exactly that.

How would our coaches explain this concept?

So for instance if we want to teach how to play 2 Rooks vs Queen positions, our coaches collect positions or search for it in their coaching file which they’ve accumulated over their coaching journey. Then they prepare the teaching material so that the child fully understands the underlying concept.

And finally to strengthen this understanding, our coaches give homework positions on the same theme. In the long run, this helps the child to understand and retain the knowledge in their head.

To get in touch with our coach, book a free demo class.