The stages (or levels) of piece-development refers to the extent to which a piece has achieved its potential. The stages of development of a piece can be broken down into 4 levels:
- Undeveloped pieces have no role as yet and isn’t making any useful contributions to your position. The only value of such a piece lies in its potential to still be developed.
- Underdeveloped pieces make a small contribution but their role can and should be improved.
- Well-developed pieces fulfill useful roles and make a solid contribution to your position.
- Exceptionally well-developed pieces have achieved optimal development and are your most useful pieces. Generally your opponent will try to neutralize your best pieces by exchanging or attacking them.
The diagram below illustrates the difference between an undeveloped piece and an exceptionally well-developed piece:
When is development complete?
Chess players often use the term “to complete development”, referring to the opening stage where you want to bring all your pieces to the action. However, development is never truly complete. You can always aim to further improve the activity of your pieces. Naturally, at the start of the game you should give high priority to the quick and effective development of your pieces.