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How to evaluate progress in the development objective

Evaluating the progress made in the development objective is done by comparing the level of development that the individual pieces achieved. In other words, you will compare the role of your queen with the role of your opponent’s queen. Next you will compare the role of your rook with the role of your opponent’s rook and so on. Once you have compared the roles of all the pieces, you will make an “informed estimation” based on your findings.

You can evaluate the progress made in the development objective by comparing the roles of your pieces with the roles of their counterparts (ie. compare the role of your bishop with the role of your opponent’s bishop, etc.)

You should be aware that comparing progress in development is not as exact as comparing material. In comparing material we can prove which side has more material. In the case of development it is not as clear and in many cases we can only offer our best estimation. However, it is still important and worthwhile to make this assessment to the best of your ability.

Note: We will only compare the development of the queens, rooks, bishops and knights. The kings will be evaluated later when we compare the king-safety objective and the pawns will be compared when we compare the pawn-structure objective.

The following 3 examples should make the process clear:

Example 1

Who has an advantage in development here? Or is it equal?

piece development evaluation 1

Compare the roles of the pieces:

  • Compare Rd1 with Rb8: The white rook has better development since he helps to control the open d-file and supports the other rook too, whereas the black Rb8 is only defending the b7-pawn.
  • Compare Rd7 with Rf8: Clearly the white Rd7 has a more important role than the black Rf8 since he also helps to control the open d-file and forces the Rb8 to defend the b7-pawn.
  • Compare Bf6 with Bb6: The white bishop is better developed and controls some useful squares (such as preventing a black rook coming to the d8-square.

We can conclude that white has a clear advantage in development since each of his pieces have better roles than their counterparts.

Example 2

The position below shows the game from black’s point of view. Compare the roles of the pieces and evaluate either side’s progress in the objective of development:

piece development evaluation 2

Compare the roles of the pieces:

  • Compare Qc7 with Qe2: Black’s queen is on a safe square and coordinates fairly well with her other pieces. The white queen is vulnerable to threats, ie black can play Nd4 and threaten white’s queen. This comparison doesn’t tell us too much but it would seem that the black queen is slightly better developed than the white queen, mainly due to the fact that black’s queen is safer.
  • Compare Rd8 with Re1: The Rd8 adds pressure to the weak d3-pawn whereas white’s rook is not doing anything significant. Although not by much, we can say that the black Rd8 is slightly better developed than the white Re1.
  • Compare Ra5 with Ra1: At a first glance the Ra5 appears better developed than the Ra1 since Ra1 is not doing anything active at all. However, the black Ra5 isn’t as well placed as he appears at first sight since he is vulnerable to threats from the white bishop and possibly from white’s b-pawn too. At least the black Ra5 has more options at the moment than the Ra1, therefore we may say the Ra5 is possibly better developed than the Ra1.
  • Compare Bg7 with Bc1: The Bg7 is well-developed and helps to control the central as well as add pressure to the b2-pawn and indirectly to the Ra1. The white Bc1 on the other hand is just helping to defend white’s position. We can safely say the Bg7 has better development than the Bc1.
  • Compare Nf5 with Nf1: The black Nf5 is closer to the center and helps to add pressure on white by forcing the Nf1 to defend some weak squares (ie. g3). It should be quite clear that the Nf5 has better development than his counterpart, Nf1.

We can conclude that although the individual differences between the black and white pieces aren’t very big, the small differences accumulate to giveblack a clear advantage in the development objective.

Note: In the above position the white is not quite as safe as the black king, which will of course have an impact on our evaluation of the position as a whole. As mentioned earlier, we will compare the situation of the kings when we compare the king-safety objective.

Example 3

In the previous 2 examples one side had a clear advantage. The next example shows a situation where things aren’t quite as simple. Compare the roles of the pieces and give your opinion of either side’s progress in the objective of development:

piece development evaluation 3

Compare the roles of the pieces:

  • Compare Qc1 with Qd7: It is hardly possible to give an objective comparison of the queens. It should be fair to say they have equal importance in this position.
  • Compare Rb1 with Rh8: Both these rooks have a significant role in that they attack squares near the opponent’s king. Their development can be seen as equal.
  • Compare Re1 with Rh7: The white Re1 helps to control squares on the e-file and can easily move to e3 to help defend the king-side as well as help attack the queen-side via b3 or a3. The black Rh7 clearly has a good role too in that it coordinates with the other black pieces in attacking white’s king and at the same time helps to defend black’s queen-side along the 7th rank. The comparison doesn’t reveal which piece is better.
  • Compare Bf1 with Be5: Here seems to be a difference in that the black bishop clearly has a better development than the Bf1. However, the Bf1 fulfills a very important defensive role on the king-side and does its job pretty well. Still, the advantage should clearly go to the black Be5.
  • Compare Ne6 with Na6: The white Ne5 is clearly better developed than the Na6. However, the Ne6 doesn’t really threaten much since black’s position seems to be rather well-defended. Yet it is clear that the Ne6 has significantly better development than the Na6.

What is your opinion of the above situation  – which side has the better development. It is probably fair to say that since the situation is unclear we can’t really tell who has a development advantage. In this case we will have to simply say the situation is unclear.

This example also illustrates another important point –  we cannot only look at the material or development to make our evaluation of the position. If we want to give a more accurate evaluation of the position, we will need to look at and compare all the important objectives too. Next we will see how to compare progress in the center-control objective.

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Next Lesson – How to evaluate progress in the center-control objective

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