For lower rated players, a focus on developing your pieces quickly and effectively is of utmost importance for playing a well-rounded game. Many amateur games are decided very early in the game, because one player neglected their piece development or did not castle soon enough. This can result in the opponent launching a quick attack and winning the game in miniature fashion. We can also use development to our advantage though! When we are the player with the lead in development, then we have more pieces involved in the game that can be used actively. Our opponent has fewer pieces in play and we can use our piece number superiority to launch an attack on our opponent that they will have a tough time handling with their limited number of defensive pieces. This first part will deal with using development to maintain a solid game and the second part will deal with using a lead in development to attack our opponent.
When we are evenly developed with our opponent, then the possibility of our opponent attacking us quickly is lower. When we have a good amount of development, then we also have more pieces to be used for defense and can castle quicker, thus putting our king in a safer position.
In the position above, we see that Black is ahead one pawn, but he is also lagging behind in development. White has two minor pieces developed, is already castled and will soon bring a rook to the open e-file to attack Black. Here, Black MUST catch up in development as soon as possible. With the moves Be7 and 0-0, Black will be perfectly safe and will attempt to use his extra pawn to win the game. However, in this position Black played d5, neglecting his development, and quickly lost to an attack on his king after the move Re1. If only Black had developed his kingside pieces and gotten castled!
This is an important lesson for all beginners. The importance of development for defensive purposes (saving yourself from much trouble) can not be understated. Get your pieces developed, get your king out of the center of the board by castling and enjoy a much safer middlegame position. The next part of this article will deal with how to use a lead in development to attack your opponent!
Read more about general chess principles: “Passive vs Active Defense”.