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i_play_slowly 76 ( +1 | -1 )
"Knights are generally poor defenders. . ." I've read, "Knights are generally poor defenders of each other," but I've never understood why. Perhaps I just figured it out. Knights seem to be relatively poor defenders anyway. If attacked, a bishop or queen that is responsible for defending another piece can move elsewhere on the diagonal and still defend the piece. A rook or queen that is responsible for defending another piece can, if attacked, move elsewhere on the rank or file and still defend. In contrast, if a knight that is responsible for defending some other piece is forced to move, the knight must necessarily abandon its responsibility. The problem becomes compounded when a knight is defending another knight. Either can be forced to move (e.g., if attacked by a pawn), and so abandon its charge.
ganstaman 79 ( +1 | -1 )
Knights are very awkward pieces. I think they are much better attackers than defenders. You've already pointed out their problems defending.

As for attacking, well it's almost mesmerizing to watch 2 knights work together to round up all the pieces of the other army. Depending on the placement of the knights relative to each other, they control so many squares around them, but in a pattern that seems to trap others. And then one knight moves, the pattern shifts, but still the enemy king has nowhere to go.

I'm sure there's a great example of all this out there. For now, this is the best I can do: -> (not so much 'rounding up' as it is 'control every square in her own territory').
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ionadowman 136 ( +1 | -1 )
I think you might be thinking... ... of knights as protectors, rather than defenders. As protectors, knights, we agree, aren't very flexible. Knights protecting each other are pretty solid in themselves, but also very static. In some compensation for this knights are, except for pawns of course, the cheapest protectors. Queens aren't great protectors either, if only because one wants, in attack or defence, a more active role for her.
"Defenders" suggests to me something wider in scope than "protectors". Another form of defence is the blockade (of passed pawns in particular). Generally speaking, knights are very effective blockaders, particularly if they are protected by pawns. Not only do they stop the pawn's advance - any piece can do that - they do it (relatively) cheaply, and have considerable reach to the rear of the blockaded pawn.
Knights are also effective sealers of open files (especially central ones), again if protected by pawns. As such they form outposts behind which one can marshall one's own major pieces unmolested by the enemy's. Of course there is an aggressive intent behind such outposts, but the role for the time being is that of a shield.
I am aware that by "defending" the previous posters may have been thinking specifically of "protecting", so I hope you will forgive me this digression. It is an interesting topic.
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sf115 16 ( +1 | -1 )
Knights are best placed in holes (squares where your opponent can't attack with pawns) which attack the opposition threating forks.
ionadowman 51 ( +1 | -1 )
It is arguable... ...that by so installing themselves in the interstices of the enemy pawn structure, they are preventing the orderly advance of the opposing infantry, also a defensive role, albeit one that is subordinate to more aggressive intentions. Great for restraining a central backward pawn (defending against the advance), as in this skeletal diagram:


Stack your heavy pieces behind the knight and watch that d-pawn turn pale with fear... ;-)
sough 29 ( +1 | -1 )
Awkward but not bad! Knights are excellant blockaders which can be thought of as defense. I think by virtue of their awkward but attacking nature they can use threats and threatened threats as a means for defense. Also, a knight on f3 or f6 covers nice central squares, but also can be very useful for kingside defense.
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