Game Spotlight: Planless Development

I mentioned in passing in a previous article that there was a fourth, less mentioned opening principle — develop with a plan.  Where this normally shows up as a problem is the classic junior opening:

This is what intuitively happens when you learn the first three moves of the Italian Game for White along with the general principles to develop your pieces and castle quickly.  The problem is that White had a plan to develop their Knights and Bishops, but no plan to develop their Rooks.  To be at their most useful, Rooks want to be on files that are missing your own pawns (or files where you’re about to arrange a trade of pawns).  White doesn’t have an easy way to create that situation here.  That’s why the move recommended for White is not 4. Nc3, but 4. c3, setting up the move d4 at some point in the future, arranging a safe pawn trade and releasing the Rooks.  Going one step further, the true failure of this opening isn’t just that d4 is hard to safely set up, it’s that d4 is harder to set up than it is for Black to push …d5.  This means the position is easier for Black to play than White — particularly bad when this is White’s choice of opening.

As an aside, this is why I believe the best opening to learn first is the Scotch, not the Italian.  The immediate trade of pawns makes it much easier to figure out how to develop all of the pieces:

Let’s explore more of the downside of planless development:

While it’s more important to focus on building up tactics and endgame skill for good results, it’s also worth taking a bit of time learning your openings.  Make sure you know enough to create a position where you can use your skills in the middlegame.

The NCC Open Championship is coming up.  Limited spots are available, so don’t wait to register.  You can find more information here, and register here.

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