The Importance of Development

| 7 | For Beginners


I played this OTB game recently, as black, and one of my club-mates suggested it is a good example for beginners to demonstrate the importance of development.  My opponent was by no means a beginner so I was highly surprised to see him throwing away any initiative that he did have in the opening.  I expect he will learn from this game that sometimes the best ideas are the original ones and neglecting all the basic opening principles will not prove fruitful.


Development generally refers to the deployment of your pieces to more powerful positions.  The openings you use to do this are essential to ensure that you provide yourself with the maximum chance of winning.  There are many openings that can achieve a well developed and fairly equal position for both, but there are also many openings that develop the game in a different way such as a “Queen’s Gambit” or a “Fried Liver Attack”, where the purpose of the opening is to trade material for positional gain.  The core principles of gambit openings is the sacrifice of a pawn for a lead in development, and these openings have proved to be popular and effective at all levels of play for many years.  Other openings have been challenged as to whether they are technically strong such as the “Fried Liver Attack”, but in most cases that I have seen they produce fairly good results, particularly in the amateur arena.

Control of space and initiative

This usually comes early for you if you are able to take advantage of a lead in development.  It is in your best interests to control as many squares as possible and keep strong points of attack on the enemy position.  By control I mean that your pieces dominate as many squares as possible by their direct angles of attack and often maintain a point of pressure that the enemy has no choice but to defend.  This makes your pieces have a stronger influence over the board because they are directly affecting more of the board.  It also gives you the initiative because you are able to dictate the play.  Imagine it as a real medieval battle and consider how much of an advantage speed and manoeuvrability of your forces can be.  It doesn’t matter how quickly you can checkmate your opponent if he can checkmate you first.

In the example provided white has a material advantage after move 10 because he has an additional pawn.  On the other hand black has a massive lead in development.  I have already developed two knights, a bishop and an advanced central controlling pawn.  My King is able to castle in one move and my Queen is well poised to position herself on a number of very dangerous squares within a single move.  With my advantage it was my aim to be very aggressive and not allow white to develop anything that will be able to aid his vulnerable King and get it to safety.  This is done by keeping as near as possible to continued pressure on the enemy King or any material that if white lost easily then a win for black would be inevitable, such as his Queen.  By keeping white on the defence whilst continuing to position my pieces on ever more dominating squares the onslaught will usually prove fatal.  Don’t waste moves in such situations, the longer white survives and the more he can develop his position defensively the less potent your advantage becomes.