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Piece-development: How to give useful roles to your pieces

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.

When is development complete in chess?

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.

The different roles a piece can play

A piece can only demonstrate its potential when it fulfills a useful role. There are different roles a piece can perform – some roles are very useful and others not so much. You can determine the quality of a piece by evaluating the usefulness of its role.

The usefulness of a piece can also be broken down into different levels:

  • No role – An undeveloped piece add almost nothing to your position and the value of such a piece is very limited until you improve its role.
  • Defensive role – Your opponent will probably attack some areas in your position and you will be forced to allocate pieces to defend the attacked squares and/or pieces. Such piece will then have defensive roles.
  • Limitation role – If your piece restricts the movement of an opponent’s piece, that piece fulfills a limitation role. Limiting or restricting the roles of enemy pieces are just as useful as increasing the role of your own pieces.
  • Attacking role – A piece that attacks enemy targets and forces enemy pieces into defensive roles has an attacking role and contributes to increasing your control.
  • Multiple roles – When a piece attack and defend at the same time it performs multiple roles. This is the ideal and you want as many as possible of your pieces performing multiple roles.

Development is the process that increases the fire-power and value of your pieces (which is why it is one of the 5 main objectives).

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