Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Chess Lessons For Life
The game of chess is often compared to life, with analogies to war, sports and business. It is a game of thought, strategy, analysis, and measured moves. Like all games, you could get lucky, but most chess games are won because an opponent made a mistake and was a move behind the opposing player. It can be a fun game that stimulates the mind and challenges one to navigate through landmines. I would rather have a good chess player working with me on a business venture. They stand to be good planners and opportunists.
Today I showed my son, who turns eight in a few weeks, how to really play chess. I started to show him the basics a few months ago. Then he started to play in school. He played four games in a row with me today, losing each of them, but always coming back for more. He then said: “Why am I going to play if I am just going to lose?” I told him that he “should play to learn and to improve. The wins will eventually come.”
The game teaches him many things, such as how:
**One move sets up another one. Often you have to think one or two steps ahead.
**To capitalize on a player’s mistake.
**To play offense while playing defense and to look for moves that protect your key pieces but position you to capture the pieces of your opponent.
**Today’s loser can be tomorrow’s winner and vice versa.
**Two people will start out with the same tools and resources but end up in different places.
**One move dictates the next one.
**You can win even if you suffer heavy casualties.
**You can win using different strategies and styles of play.
**You are never immune to making a mistake or missing an opportunity.
Interestingly, chess is the only game I know where you don’t end it by capturing the opponents’ last piece. It ends when the opponent can no longer move his king. It never actually gets taken off the board.
Also of note is the game does not allow you to move a piece that puts your king in check. Thus, it forces a do-over of your move. What other game stops you from losing the piece that is the object of the game?
I love the game of chess. But it should not be mistaken for being seen like life itself. Life doesn’t play by the rules and its parameters are not limited to a board of finite spaces and moves. Life has many options and surprises, which is what makes it the hardest, but most rewarding game of all.