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