How to Develop Your Pieces in Chess

The opening in chess focuses on development. To develop one's chessmen is to bring them into playable situations. After learning the rules of the game, it is time you become acquainted with development.

Here is a rundown of development.

- Move a pawn first to open up the ranks. - Develop the knights and bishops next. - Castle early to protect the king. - Develop the rooks and queen.

Move a pawn first to open the ranks.

By advancing a pawn first, you break up the front rank to open the way for the back rank. The best pawns to move first are those pawns in directly in front of the king and queen. These are in d and e squares. Moving them gives a bishop room to move. A further advantage of this is that these are the middlemost pawns. Having a pawn in the center of the board lets you stake your claim on it.

Which pawns you move first directly influences how the other pieces develop. Avoid moving pawns where you intend to castle. Also, since pawns can only move forward, be careful where you position them; there's no taking it back.

- Develop the Knights and Bishops next.

Start with the knights. They are harder to move around so get them out early while there are still plenty of free squares. Knights do best in or near the middle than the sides. A good place for them is the bishop's file at c and f at the 3 and 6 ranks.

Unlike knights, bishops can move to any distance in their prescribed directions. They are easier to develop and more useful late in the game. Knights are strongest in th center at the early stages.

- Castle early to protect the king.

Castle on the king's half of the board unless for some reason you want to do it on the queen's side. Castling early serves three purposes: 1) it provides a sanctuary for the king, 2) it lets you focus on you offensive and 3) the castling rook gets to see more action.

- Develop the rooks and queen.

Even if you are not a chess grandmaster, you will sense that these are the most powerful pieces on the board. Develop the rooks after castling. Get them to middle files where they have a lot of control. Two rooks supporting each other and/or the queen is a powerful tactic.

Develop the queen last. She is the most valuable of all next to the king, and the most maneuverable. Do not develop her before the others. A good place for the queen is on e2 or e7 in front of the king.

Key points to remember:

- Focus your pieces on the center of the chess board. - Move a piece only once during the opening stage. - Bring out the queen after the other pieces, never too early.

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