index 2011
Letter #52 -  2011

Sub:    New way to define development
12/16/11  11:33:00 AM EDT
From:  Richard Moody Jr

Dear Chess-Poster,

What is really needed is a whole new way to look at development. Here is one way, a new way: beginners should learn to count in chess as part of their training.

This is how I count tempos in Chess:

1.) Pawn moves two squares forward = 1 tempo, Pawn moves 1 square forward or capturing = 1/2 tempo.

2.) The move sequence Qe2/Qf3 gains only one tempo because the Queen can access the f3 square in one tempo; by contrast, the move sequence Qe2/Qe3 gains two tempos because the Queen cannot access the e3 square in under two squares. What this means is that if you have a choice between Qe3 as opposed to Qf3, on general principles, absent tactics, Qe3 is better because it gains a tempo.

3.) Multiple Knight moves to squares they cannot access in under a certain number of moves count as developing moves so that the move sequence Nf3/Ng5/Ne4 counts as three developing moves. However, if White plays Nf3/Ng5/Ne4/Ng3, the final move is worth -1, because White can access g3 in two moves, i.e. Ne2/Ng3.

4.) When you capture a piece, you gain all the time that piece took before it was captured.

5.) If you capture a piece or Pawn and open a file for the Bishop, this is worth an additional tempo. Consider this way of counting in this variation of the Caro-Kann: 1.e4 (1) c6 (1/2) 2.d4 (1) d5 (1) 3.Nd2 (1) dxe4 (1/2) 4.Nxe4 (1) Nf6 (1) 5.Nxf6 (2) exf6 (3) ---two for capturing a piece that has moved twice, and one for opening the diagonal of the Bishop.

6.) Here is the tempo count in the Ruy Lopez: 1.e4 (1) e5 (1) 2.Nf3 (1) Nc6 (1) 3.Bb5 (1) a6 (1/2) 4.Bxc6 (2)---one for capturing the piece and one for moving the Bishop to a diagonal it cannot achieve in under two moves, dxc6 (3)--- 2 for capturing a piece that has moved twice and one for opening the diagonal of the Bishop. Total tempo count: White---5 Black 5 1/2. You will note that Black has opened both diagonals for his Bishops, but White has to make a Pawn move to free his Queen Bishop. In the internal harmony of Chess, the only difference here is that Black has played a6, that is why he is 1/2 tempo ahead in development. According to tempo count, Black should be equal.

7.) Capturing a Pawn that results in a doubled isolated Pawn is worth (0), unless it is coupled with the capture of piece e.g. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nd4 6.c3 b5 7.Bf1 (-1 by the way for retreating a piece to its original square) Nxd5 8.cxd4 (0 for doubled isolated Pawns but +2 for capturing a piece that has moved twice.) If you just count as developing moves when a piece from its original square, you may get a warped view of development.

Consider this variation of the Two Knights' Defense: 1,e4 (1) e5 (1) 2.Nf3 (1) Nc6 (1) 3.Bc4 (1) Nf6 (1) 4.Ng5 (1) d5 (1) 5.exd5 (1/2) Nd4 6.c3 (1/2) b5 (1) 7.Bf1 (-1) Nxd5 (1) 8.Ne4 (1) Ne6! (1) 9.Bxb5ch (1) Bd7 (1) 10.Bxd7 (2---One for capturing a piece and one for accessing a diagonal that cannot be accesed in under two moves) Qxd7 (3---two for capturing a piece that has moved twice, one for developing).

You will notice that every Black move was worth at least one tempo; compare that to White's moves. Total tempo count: White---8, Black---12, so Black has 4 tempos for the Pawn where the center is fluid. Black has equalized.

8.) Undoubling a Pawn is worth (1) e.g. 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nd4 6.c3 b5 7.Bf1 Nxd5 8.Ne4 Qh4 9.Ng3 (again, -1 because Black can access that square in 2 moves) Bg4 10.f3 e4 11.cxd4 (0) for the doubled Pawns, (2) for capturing a piece that moves twice, Bd6 12.Qe2 Be6 (worth 0 the Bishop retreats to a square it can access in one move) 13.Nc3! (You will also note that 13.Qf2 gains a tempo, too, but fxe4 only gains 1/2 tempo.)

Time is life---that extra 1/2 tempo is critical. Nxc3 14.dxc3 (+4--1 for developing a piece, 2 for capturing a piece that has moved twice and 1 for undoubling his Pawns). Where counting can provide guidance about what move to choose, consider the following move sequence: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qf3ch Ke6 8.Nc3 Nb4. Book here is 9.a3 but according to my tempo count it is worth just 1/2.

However, if the reader has been following the logic here, the correct choice is just 9.Bb3, defending c2 because, according to my tempo count, it gains a tempo; White cannot access the b3 square in under two moves. White now renews the threat of a3; this forces c6 & now White just plays 10.Nxd5 cxd5 11.d4 with a strong initiative.

Black has to play exactly correctly or face a winning attack. While not a substitute for understanding development from other viewpoints, it is a tool to use when first learning how to play Chess.

Dear Mr. Richard Moody,

Thanks again for your new Chess article which is loaded with new helpful and interesting information that we know our viewers will appreciate very much.

Best regards,

back      up      forward

Home  |  Chess Gallery  |  Chess Poster  |  Contact us  |  Español