Back to Basics: Mere Development

There have already been many articles here at The Chess Improver on the importance of timely and harmonious development in the opening as vital principles for obtaining a decent game. I recently played a game that I thought was a thematic illustration of simply developing all the way to victory.

My opponent as Black played a dubious “Knight on the rim” opening idea that I’d never faced before. I simply developed normally and by move 11 already had a lead in development and a better Pawn structure. In the absence of early tactical tricks and advantageous Pawn structures, a lead in development is a big deal in chess. After move 11, White has three minor pieces out, and the Queen and two Rooks have obvious places to be developed at will without any barrier. Contrast this situation with Black’s: Black has only two minor pieces out, and although one Rook is “developed”, in reality it is in a position of weakness where it can be attacked easily. And worst of all, the Queen side is not only not developed, but also it is not clear how and when it can be: the light-squared Bishop cannot emerge without at least first making a Pawn move to free it.

Black’s 11th move, a Pawn move did open up the way for development of the light-squared Bishop, but White developed the Queen. Black’s terrible 12th move just blocked it back in, as well as weakened the d6 Pawn. The game is already lost at this point. White already had enough forces developed to immediately begin winning material, by developing a Rook to back up the Queen. After White’s 13th move, let’s do some counting:

  • White has 5 developed pieces: Knight, two Bishops, Queen, Rook.
  • Black has 3 developed pieces: Knight, Bishop, Rook.

After Black lost an exchange, White continued developing. After move 24:

  • White has 3 developed pieces: Queen, two Rooks.
  • Black has 1 developed piece: Queen (the Queen side Rook and Bishop are still at home).

Here I somewhat slacked in my conversion to a win. Objectively I could have prevented Black from developing the final two pieces and gone for mate against the King, but instead, I chose a slow plan of advancing my passed e-Pawn. This plan allowed Black to develop the final two pieces, albeit very passively and defensively, but it was a simple way to squeeze to the point of being able to force a trivially winning ending. But the ending never happened, because Black simply blundered a Bishop away.

The annotated game

Franklin Chen

This entry was posted in Annotated Games, Articles, Franklin Chen on by .

About Franklin Chen

Franklin Chen is a United States Chess Federation National Master. Outside his work as a software developer, he also teaches chess and is a member of the Pittsburgh Chess Club in Pennsylvania, USA. He began playing in chess tournaments at age 10 when his father started playing in them himself but retired after five years, taking two decades off until returning to chess as an adult at age 35 in order to continue improving where he left off. He won his first adult chess tournaments including the 2006 PA State Game/29 and Action Chess Championships, and finally achieved the US National Master title at age 45. He is dedicated to the process of continual improvement, and is fascinated by the practical psychology and philosophy of human competition and personal self-mastery. Franklin has a blog about software development, The Conscientious Programmer and a personal blog where he writes about everything else, including his recent journey as an adult improver in playing music.