Develop Your Pieces

Development of your pieces is the main aim of chess openings. The idea is to “develop” your pieces off the back rank, so that they can start to take part in the battle.

Development of pieces helps both attack and defence. The first half of development is to attack: get your pieces into play. The other half of development is defensive: get your King ready to castle so that it can hide in the corner.

Development Setup

Usually the basic ideas of development for an ideal setup are something like this:

  • Move a pawn like a King or Queen pawn (so that a Bishop can get out)
  • Develop a Knight (or Bishop)
  • Develop a Bishop (or Knight)
  • Develop the Other Knight
  • Move another Pawn (to get the other Bishop out)
  • Develop the Other Bishop
  • Develop the Queen but only by moving it 1 square (yes, just leave it near the King, but move it off the back rank).
  • Castle (either side)
  • Move the Kingside Rook to where the King was (the “e” file)
  • Move the Queenside Rook to where the Queen was (the “d” file)

Development Mistakes

Common mistakes in development are:

  • Too many Pawn moves
  • Moving the same piece twice (or more)
  • Leaving castling too late (then your King gets stuck in the center, and comes under attack)
  • Launching an attack too early (without all your pieces developed)

If you fail to develop your pieces, the most common outcome is that your King will get attacked in the center. Your King should castle early to avoid being stuck in the center. But your King can only castle if you have developed the other pieces out of the way. If you leave it too late, your King is toast.