Game of the Week: The Plight of the Underdeveloped

Game of the Week: The Plight of the Underdeveloped

Nov 8, 2016, 4:47 PM |

We've all played that one game before: the game where you attacked too early, didn't develop properly, and then watched in horror as everything guarding your king was swallowed whole, with nothing you could have done about it. Most of the time, these positions befall the beginners—and you learn the hard way why development is so important.

But eventually, the day of satisfaction comes: the day when you, with an evillish grin, strip away your opponent's defenders, delivering a swift and decisive death blow. You have reached a new level; the tables have turned; the student has become the master.

Ok... maybe that's a bit of a romanticization. But I do believe that most every player can identify with my narrative. It is very important to not only know how to develop, but how to punish an underdeveloped opponent.

In this week's game, I did just that. Being a 3 min blitz game, this game did not allow much time for calculation, and there were plenty of mistakes on both sides. But, despite the inaccuracies, I was able to recognize my opponent's underdevelopment and keep in mind some key principles to capitalize on that fatal weakness. And what are those principles?

  1. Defend accurately. Just because your opponent isn't playing properly does not mean you should underestimate their attack. If you are not guarded, their risky plays will pay off (which is what they are hoping for!). Do not yourself fall for the tempting opportunity to attack too soon. Patience is key in these games.
  2. Force trades of the active pieces. If your opponent is underdeveloped, then it's almost as if they are down on material. Since this is the case, simplify and soon you will have the only active pieces on the board.
  3. Keep tempo. Do not let your opponent start developing. Once you feel you have enough of an advantage on the board, you must do one of two things: start checking/attacking the king, or threaten the underdeveloped pieces (which are often trapped and hanging)--most of the time you will want to go for the king attack, but sometimes an endgame will be more favorable. If you do not do one of these things, your opponent will develop and your window of opportunity will close.

Now, in my game, though I had these guidelines in mind, my opponent played so poorly that I only had to trade off one minor piece (actually, he traded it off before I could!) before his attack was destroyed and my counterattack grew more potent. His was a case of extreme underdevelopment, and though he kept his queen for the whole game, it was unsupported and did him almost no good. I tore open the black kingside and the game was soon over.

Here is the game:

I hope you enjoyed today's post! Comments on the game? Feedback on my principles for dealing with an underdeveloped opponent? An awesome (or embarrassing ) "underdevelopment game" you'd like to share? Please feel free to post below!

(P.S. Apologies to everyone that it has been so long since my last post. I was on vacation and unable to write, but I'm back now! )