Strong chess players know that piece activity is paramount. However, currently there is a misconception about it. Because many have been told by their teachers or read in a book that pieces are more active in the center of the board, players think that pieces on the edge have to be inactive. This is not true.
Consider this week's featured game, Blackburne-Steinitz (1875). After initiating a rather innocuous opening system, white attempts to jettison the b2-pawn in hopes of an advantage in time. Probably believing that his rook would become a target and at best find itself at the edge of the board, Steinitz avoids taking the bait.
In-depth analysis proves the capture correct. Suppose black had captured 10...Rxb2, a likely continuation would have been 11.exd5 Rb4 12.Rfe1 Nxd5 13.Be5 Bg4 14.f3 f6 15.a3 Ra4 16.Bb2 Bc5+ 17.Kh1 Nf4 18.Qd1 Bc8 19.Be4 Ra6 20.Nb3 Qxd1, black's rook seems to be a liability. On the contrary, this rook is applying constant pressure to white's position, especially the a2-pawn.
After 21.Rexd1 Bd6 22.a4 f5 23.Bd3 Nxd3 24.Rxd3 Re8 25.Bd4 Re2 26.Re3 Rxe3 27.Bxe3 f4 28.Bd4 Bf5 29.Ra2 Kf7, black surely retains an edge. While it seems as though black's rook is inactive on the edge of the board, it is holding down white's rook. Black's rook is attacking while its counterpart is defending; this fact alone makes black's rook better.
I would also like to point out that white missed a chance to seize the initiative and begin his attack with 18.f5! This move breaks open black's kingside. White has sufficient material in that area of the board to justify an attack. The conclusion would have been 18...gxf5 19.Bxf5 Bxf5 20.Rxf5 Rg6 21.Ref1 Rg7 22.Qf2 Qd7 23.Nd2 Qe6 24.Ne4 Nd7 25.Ng5 Qxc4 26.b3 Qa6 (it is clear that white is controlling the game) 27.Rxf7 Rxg5 28.Rxd7 Qe6 29.Rf7 Bg7 30.Rxc7 Bxe5 31.Rxc5 Bf4 32.Rxg5+ Bxg5 33.Kh1 Be3 34.Qe2 when white is a full pawn ahead.
Black's final error was 26...cxb4 when he missed white's beautiful
intermezzo 27.c5! White's position was then dominating.