Chess: Principles of Development

There are many types of chess openings, most of which are named after the person who introduced the play in an international tournament. Most openings obey the fundamental rule of developing the pieces from the back row as soon as possible. In this case the word development means to bring into play the pieces sitting on the back row in the opening play of the match.

There is a method and general order of development that is comprised of four phases.

1. Advance pawns. Advancing pawns give the major pieces on the back row lines and angles to advance. Pawn development should be considered very carefully as it dictates the course of play. The choice of the first pawn move can determine if the play will be an attacking or position game. Initial pawn moves must be carefully considered, as they can never be retracted. When we first start playing chess the best course of action is to select the classic pawn moves of either pawn to king four or pawn to queen four.

2. Develop the minor pieces, knights, and bishops. Bring out the knights before the bishops. Always keep in mind that pawns do not have to be moved to bring out the knights. They are the only pieces on the board that have the unique ability to jump other pieces. Knights must be brought early to use their power. When a knight is sitting at his starting position he only controls two squares but once positioned at centerboard he controls eight squares. For instance, examine the influence a knight has sitting at c3 as compared to a starting position. Bishops have more value later in the game as they can traverse the entire board on one move. By bringing out the knights first the board can be evaluated for proper and effective bishop play. Bishops are more useful in later stages of the match, after some exchanges are completed reducing the total number of pieces on the board, as there is more room for their mobility and long distance striking power.

3. Castle usually to the King’s side. This puts the King in a safer position and is the first step in Rook development. Castling is imperative when there are early exchanges at centerboard. As a special note the descriptive notation for castling to King’s side is 0-0 and to the Queen’s side is 0-0-0.

4. Adjust the major pieces — the Rooks and the Queen. Centralize the position of the rooks and improve the position of the Queen. Remember the two basic reasons these three pieces are labeled major; a Rook and King can execute a checkmate and of course a Queen and King can execute a checkmate. Secondly, besides the checkmate the Rook controls a minimum of fourteen squares on the chessboard and the Queen controls a minimum of twenty-one squares on the chessboard. You can complete the position improvement of the Queen by moving her to the natural position. The natural position for the Queen to reside at is King two, while the Whites Queen positions at e2 and Blacks Queen rests at e7. This is the natural middle game position for the Queen and prepares her for end game strategy.

By keeping these deployment principles in mind pieces are not stranded on the board and captured by the opponent. Pieces are supported by other pieces giving the message to the opponent that an attack will cost you in kind. If a piece in play becomes isolated due to the nature of the play, it is in your best interest not to go to extraordinary measures to rescue the piece. For instance a Knight can become surrounded by enemy paws and pieces with capture imminent; when rescue is not possible attack; capture any piece within striking distance prior to the loss. It is better to sacrifice the stranded piece than to further weaken your position and weaken the defense of the King.