Undevelopment in Chess

by Webmaster on November 17, 2016

Basically continuing on from my previous article on ‘breaking the rules’, the mentioning of Kramnik’s cryptic exchange sacrifices reminded me of another anti-intuitive technique that you usually shouldn’t do.

Obviously some situations call for ‘undevelopment’ of one’s pieces. In the position below, ‘undeveloping’ the knight and re-routing it to d5 is a logical way to move the knight to its best square. (The knight belongs in the centre where it can influence both the kingside and queenside.)


The classic non-intuitive example of this technique is from a game between two world champions, Karpov and Spassky. On move 24, Karpov realises that it is worth kicking out black’s knight on b4 and plays 24.Nb1!! followed by removing Spassky’s knight.

A more obvious application of the undeveloping technique is to use a more high-powered piece like the queen. There are many cases, such as …Qb6-d8-h4 in the Advance French, where this kind of plan should come into consideration.

Now, let’s do a little test. Check out this recent surprisingly clean example between well-known grandmasters Pavel Eljanov and Alexey Shirov. Cover the game notation, play the game up to the move 11…a5 and try to calculate what white should play. When you’re done with that, scroll down from the top of this page to find IM Alina l’Ami’s annotated solution.

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