A lead in development can be incredibly beneficial in the opening if we know how to use it well. Just because we have more pieces developed than our opponent, and are castled before they are, does not mean that an attack will fall out of the sky. We need to understand when and how to use this lead in development in order to build a quick attack against the unsuspecting opponent.
The main reason that a lead in opening development can lead to a quick attack is because we have more pieces activated in the game than our opponent does. This means we have more firepower to attack with compared to the defender pieces that our opponent has available. If we squander our lead in development by allowing the opponent to develop the rest of their pieces and catch up, then we may have lost our chance to win the game with a quick and decisive attack.
Another factor when considering if the position is a good one to begin an attack in the opening is if our opponent’s king has not castled yet. If the opponent’s king is still in the center of the board, it is usually much easier for us to attack it, because we can use pieces from the kingside, center and queenside to attack. If we let the king castle to one side of the board, then it is harder for our pieces on the opposite side of the board to be involved in the attack.
This is why, if we have a lead in development and see that our opponent’s king has not castled yet, that we should rip open the position and go for a full-scale attack. At the very least, we may be able to keep the opponent’s king locked to the middle of the board.
In the position above, taken from the game Browne vs Quinteros (1974), Black has used a lot of moves in the opening to move his queen around and grab pawns. In comparison, White has a huge lead in development with a knight in the center of the board, a rook aiming at the opponent’s king and his own king safely tucked on g1. On the other side of the board, Black is way behind on development and will have to make at least three more moves before he can think about castling kingside (Nf6, e6, Be7 then 0-0.)
White decided to launch a full-scale attack on Black with the moves 10.Na3 Qc8 11.Nab5 Qd7 12.Bf4 e5 13.Bxe5! dxe5 14.Rxe5+ Be7 15.Rd5! Qc8 16.Nf5 Kf8 17.Nxe7 Kxe7 18.Rd6+ and Black resigned.
Black was on the defensive throughout the entire course of the game and this was all due to his lack of development. If he had been better developed, he would have had more pieces to assist with defense and could have castled to safety. The importance of development cannot be stressed enough!
Read more about development in chess: “The Importance of Development – Part 1”.