What Is Piece Development (+Why It Is Important) In Chess?

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In the opening stage of a chess game, there are three most fundamental things that each chess player does: controlling the center, developing the pieces, and protecting the king.

So now, out of these three today, we are going to discuss the second topic that is piece development, and why it is so important in chess. 

Further, we will also discuss suitable examples to highlight its importance and at the end, we’ll talk about the piece development genius of chess (guess the name!)

So continue scrolling till the end! You will definitely get to know something valuable and interesting.

What does it mean to develop a piece in chess?

To develop a piece in chess means to take out a piece from its original square and place it on a more effective square. So that you can get an advantage while fighting with the opponent in chess.

In chess the most common process of developing the pieces is.

  • First moving the pawns on ‘e file’ or ‘d file’ with the motive to control the center.
  • Or sometimes with knights first.
  • Then in the next turn knights and bishops (mostly knights before bishops) are developed.
  • After that castling is done within the first 5-10 moves. (mostly kingside castling)

This is the basic chronology of moves that most chess players, especially beginners follow while developing the chess pieces.

However, depending on the opening style you play this chronology of developing the pieces differs. 

Why is the development of pieces so important in chess?

Piece development is important in chess because:

  • You get a space advantage right from the beginning of the game.
  • It helps to get you a time advantage compared to your opponent.
  • You can utilize the maximum power of the pieces when they are developed.

Now, let’s see all these three reasons in detail and understand them. But first, have a look at an example that highlights the importance of developing pieces in chess.

It is black’s turn to move. Now before reading further I urge you to have a quick scan of the image and analyze the game, each position by yourself finally guessing the result. After you do that reading further will be very easy

Why is development of pieces so important in chess?

Now let’s analyze the game together pointwise. 

  • White’s king is on g1, the bishop on a2, one rook on e3, another rook f6 while pawns are there as seen in the image.
  • Whereas black’s king is on h6, the bishop on c8, a knight on b8, one rook on a8, and another rook on e8.
  • White already moved its rook from f1 to f6 and now it is black’s turn to move.
  • Black is in check by f6 rook.
  • It is clear from the position of the board that white pieces are more developed compared to black.
  • Notice how black’s knights, bishop, and rook are lying still on their original squares. 
  • Despite having pieces black could not take its advantage simply because it was not developed.

Now coming to the current position black is in check so it will try to save its king in the best possible way, right?

Here black’s king is attacked by two rooks on f6 and e3 and also by the bishop on a2. So it is very hard for its king to defend. 

And do you know after several series of moves ultimately white wins the game! ( Not discussing all the remaining moves further because we are learning about developing the pieces so it is better to summarize this game here, right? )

So this was the illustration that showed how important it is to develop the pieces in chess. Now let’s discuss the three points that we talked about earlier.

Space Advantage

A space advantage in chess is simply how many portions of the chessboard is in your control.

The more space on the board you control the more advantage and chances of winning you have. Right?

If you have developed your pieces well that means you control more space than your opponent. In that way, piece development is important to gain space advantage in chess.

As you have seen in the above illustration, white had more space advantage than black (because its pieces were developed. So ultimately due to this extra advantage white won the game.

Now let’s understand what is the time advantage and how it is related to developing a chess piece.

Time Advantage

Time advantage means you are ahead compared to your opponent in terms of moves.

When you have a time advantage, you don’t have to spend more turns in order to achieve the desired position because you have already achieved it. (By piece development).

From the above illustration we discussed, you might have noticed how black’s knights and bishops were waiting to move but couldn’t because white was constantly attacking their king. 

So it was important for black to first save their king rather than to develop its undeveloped knight and bishop. 

Thus it can be said that black was lagging behind white in one of the most important resources in the chess game that is time.

But white didn’t have to worry much. On the contrary, it was finding ways to deliver checkmate and win the game. 

Therefore piece development is important in order to achieve time advantage in chess.

Power of developed pieces

When pieces are not developed they are certainly of no value for you in the chess game. Unless you place your pieces in the optimal position you would not be able to utilize their maximum power.

A knight at the corner of the board is just dead! It can control only 2 squares. While a knight at the center can occupy 8 squares.

Similarly, bishops are useless when blocked by their own pawns. Whereas a bishop placed at the longest diagonal of the board is very powerful.

Again referring to the above illustration that we discussed, black couldn’t utilize the power of its knight and bishop simply because they were not developed properly from the beginning of the game.

And black had to pay the cost of this mistake. While white utilized both of its rooks and bishops in order to attack the black’s king and finally also succeeded in doing that.

So it is very clear how when pieces are developed they are more powerful compared to when not developed.

Piece Development Genius- Paul Morphy

Do you know about Paul Morphy? He was one of the greatest players in chess and probably the first, who appreciated the value of development in chess.

In the early 1800s people used to play chess in only two ways: attack or defense. 

But it was Paul Morphy who first showed that development is so important in chess. 

He won the chess championship in 1857 and then challenged the top chess players of Europe at that time. Then after winning many games, he returned to the United States and retired from chess.

He was truly a developmental genius in chess!

Wrapping Up

So that’s it! Hope you liked reading this article as much as I liked sharing this with you. Please do share this article if you find it helpful. 

Now let’s have a quick summary of whatever we discussed so far:

  • Piece development means moving out the pieces from their original square and placing them on the most effective square.
  • Piece development is important because it gives you more control over the game and an extra edge compared to your opponent.
  • Then we talked about space advantage, time advantage, and power of developed pieces in chess.
  • Finally discussed in brief one of the most genius chess players- Paul Morphy


Does the first move in chess have to be a pawn?

It is not necessary to move a pawn as the first move. However it is very common in chess to open with a pawn.

What piece should I move first in chess?

You can move the piece as per the opening style you selected and according to your general playing strategy. Generally, players first move either center pawns or knights.

Which pieces are the most numerous at the start of a chess game?

Pawns, knights, and bishops are most numerous at the start of the chess game because chess players develop first the pawns and minor pieces (knights and bishops). After the game proceeds then slowly queens and rooks come into action.