I’m often conscious while playing of the value of men further towards the king row than in the ‘home’ position.

Take the fictitious example below.  Red has the option to either (A) swap men to get nearer a king, or (B) swap men with white’s man near its king line.

Assuming only moves A and B are in consideration, which would you choose?

For me, choosing move A is pretty tempting.  You’re getting pretty close to a king, which will force white’s man on white’s second row to have to move.

Move B has more subtle benefits, however.

Firstly, the utility of red’s two back men has very little value.  They’re not causing much of a headache in preventing white getting kings.  The best red could hope for is white getting a king to the left behind man ‘B’, allowing red to move its first line man to exchange a king for a man.  Assuming white is a reasonable player, this isn’t very likely.

Secondly, getting nearer to the end of the game, it’s likely red’s men on its first and second row are going to need promotion to kings.  They’re a long way off that.

Thirdly, and most importantly, red has the opportunity to effectively ‘gain’ moves.  Consider white’s man that red can exchange.  At minimum it has cost 2 moves to get to its current position.  Consider red’s man B, which has cost at most 1 move to get to its current position (2 moves once exchange takes place).  If red can exchange men, it has a net effect of having gained 1 move, as the red man on red’s first row moves 2 places (jumping white’s exchanged man).  The likelihood is white’s man could have moved more than 2 places, effectively making the gain greater.

For homework, consider the costs associated with move A.

So when playing, it’s worth considering the value of the pieces you’re moving.