HOW PLAYING CHESS CAN MAKE YOU WISER
There are many activities in life that can help us think, help us reason and help us make decisions. One of the most often overlooked is playing games. There are so many games that can teach us the ways of life; they can open our minds and can actually make us wiser. Not only video games but some of the most common and recognizable games that have been around for a very long time have a wealth of knowledge to share with us. One of those very valuable games is Chess.
Chess is a board game played between two players. The current form of the game emerged in Southern Europe during the second half of the 15th century after evolving from a similar, much older game of Indian origin. Today, chess is one of the world’s most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.
Unfortunately, fewer people, in everyday circles, play chess today than they do, perhaps checkers or monopoly. I seldom play chess any longer because my son is the only one I used to play with and he has grown, married and is off on his own. No one else in our family ever played chess. We used to keep a chess board set up in the living room. It has now grown dusty and has been ultimately put away some place, never to be seen again.
Chess is quite often viewed as a long, boring activity that must be avoided. It is also looked at as a very difficult game, one of extreme thought and intuition. It really isn’t; it is a game made up of a series of interrelated moves and thought provoking progression. All we need to do is remember the moves and who they belong to. In other words, we need to get to know our players and what they can and cannot do. We need to do the same with our opposition’s players.
There is much to be learned from chess. There are a lot of different pieces, each with its own set of moves and capabilities. Many of the pieces and the moves can be compared to every day life and our pursuit of whatever goal we have set for ourselves. If we can play the game of life in any way similar to the way we play the game of chess, we may have a chance at getting through the game before we get checkmated.
A few suggestions I might offer for playing the game of chess, beyond learning the moves of each of the pieces, may include;
10) FIRST MOVE MOBILITY: On your first move, whether you are offense or defense, jump right out there. Don’t hesitate. This one move will be your safest and you must work at putting the opposition on the defensive. This move will probably be the first and last time you get to do anything without a great deal of thought. You need to show them who you are and what you intend on doing. Don’t be scared in life. It is all too brief and you have so few chances at success. If you have an opportunity to move first, take advantage of it. Seize the opportunity.
9) DON’T GET FANCY: Count on good, solid straight forward moves. Castling can look like you know what you are doing but it really doesn’t do a lot for you. Running your bishop out to the middle of the board, early in the game, can appear to be threatening, but it really isn’t, unless you have your partner in position already. Your opposition would have had to really been asleep if you can gain anything too early in the game, by running the bishop. Stay simple but steadfast. Play the hare, not the tortoise. Make your moves count but don’t make them suspicious. Stay the pace!
8) RECOGNIZE THE VALUE OF EACH PIECE: Get to know your team mates, your accomplices and acquaintances. Understand each of their unique capabilities. Know where they excel and where they fail. Let them know you appreciate them and want them near you. Protect them as much as you would protect your Queen. Always keep your Queen next to you but don’t insult others by ignoring them. Keep everyone in play and allow them freedom to exercise their own talents. Use them when and where they will most benefit your end purpose but be careful not to abuse them.
7) IMAGINE CONSEQUENCES: Study every move diligently. Know where it will take you and how the opposition will react. Imagine your action in your own mind then carry it forward and imagine what could happen were you to take that move. Think beyond just the move itself. Imagine what your opposition would do, and then what would you do and so on. Don’t do anything unless you can see several moves ahead and can anticipate the related consequences.
6) GET IN POSITION AND SURVEY: Hang on and place yourself in your imagined next position. Keep your hands on and look all around. Sometimes you can see better from the perspective of your next position. To actually be in that position can sometimes add much more knowledge than just imagining yourself there. Hang on in the next position for as long as it takes to get an understanding of the potential outcome. Always be ready to anticipate the results of any move you may make. Know this before you make the move.
5) THINK BEFORE MOVING: Think carefully about the move you have decided to make before you make it. Even if you have imagined all consequences and have surveyed the outcome from the new position; still think. Imagine all your other pieces and what they will be up against if you make a move like the one you are anticipating. Who will you jeopardize? Who will you put in harm’s way? Don’t do something that could alienate any of your allies and allow you to potentially lose them and their assistance. Keep your friends close to you.
4) ATTACK WHEN ABLE: If the opportunity arises and your goal is in sight, do not hesitate. Go through all the other information gathering activities but be ready to attack. Don’t hold back. Don’t let your caution show before your bravery. You must always keep the opposition at bay and on their guard. Keep them thinking more about why you did something than about what they will do next. Even if your attack will be easily trumped, go through with it anyway. Better to have them on the defensive than you.
3) PUT ALL RESOURCES INTO PLAY: Include everyone in your pursuit. Do not try to accomplish anything so challenging as defeating your foe, on your own; particularly if you are able to call on reinforcements. If you have the resources make certain you use them and use them wisely. Remember their capabilities. Put them and yourself in such a position as to be able to bring all capabilities, including your own, into play. Make the most of what you have.
2) PROTECT THE KING: The object in chess is to checkmate your opponent’s King. Checkmate occurs when a king is attacked and the king cannot escape capture on the next move. The king is the game. Find out who your king is. Are you the king of your own game? No matter what else happens you must protect the king. You must protect the king even at the cost of several of your more valuable accomplices. Block any attacks thrown at him. Repel any approaches made toward him. Do whatever you have to just to protect the King.
And the number one rule of the game of chess, or the game of life;
1) NEVER GIVE UP: Force your opposition to bring you down hard. Don’t look forward at an eventual doom and give up early. You can’t be certain the opposition will always move like they are expected to. Wait for the slightest flaw in their strategy and take advantage. Don’t give up until you have no other alternative. Even then, keep trying; you never know what may show up.
Of course, life can be much more rewarding and much more unforgiving than a simple game of chess. The stakes are higher but the prize is even higher yet. Some of the comparisons though, can show you some of the most important aspects of making it through the biggest game any of us will ever face.
Chess is a wise man’s game, not a difficult game, but a wise one. It requires thought, patience and persistence. Knowing what lies ahead is the key to a good chess / life game. Diligent study and observation are two of the best tools for all of us in either game. We can all succeed in both games, if we know the right moves to make, when to make them and how to do so.