The Countless Life Lessons Chess Teaches You
The Ageless Board Game
If you personally knew me, you'd know that I am striving to become a Grand Master. I am not gifted nor insanely talented, but I have learned to appreciate the game for what it is. After all, I've noticed the game has many lessons for those who want to hear them.
Chess is more than just a board game; it's a turn-based battle between two players with a twist. Interestingly, there's a somewhat steep learning curve for beginners that have never picked up the game before, but once both players—and whoever else is involved—begin to understand and appreciate what the game has to offer, the real learning begins.
Allow me to walk you through the numerous life lessons that I have learned or reinforced through continued study and play.
Have you Ever Played Chess Before?
This one may come out as obvious, but chess players learn patience through a multitude of ways. For one, you can't do whatever you want, whenever you want.
There are times where players will fidget and squirm because they want to break open their lines in order to throw all of their army straight to their foe. Unfortunately, it doesn't work this way, as they need to patiently structure their pieces in order to activate and develop their pieces in an orderly fashion. This, no doubt, requires loads of patience.
In addition to the patience needed to develop your pieces, players need to understand the quote, 'every dog has his day.' In this context, this quote is referring to the fact that every strategy in your mind has a perfect time to be executed. You can't merely attack your opponent because you want to. The primary goal of the game is to Checkmate your opponent. Therefore, out of the player's desire to win, patience is reinforced in one's mind.
There are many tactics available to players.
Unfortunately, tactical vision is hard to attain, as it takes indefinite amounts of dedication to master.
A few tactical ideas are called forks, skewers, discovered attacks, and double checks, to name a few. There are far too many tactical ideas to cover here, though they are limited to one's own creativity.
A player that has great tactical vision is one who can quickly scan a battlefield in order to understand what the best choice of action should be. This, in fact, can be described as problem solving on the fly. In addition, players with excellent tactical vision will run through dozens of possible choices of play while simultaneously deciding which play yields the best results. Therefore, tactical players are trying to find the best move in every situation that will help them win.
Unlike tactics, which involve the doing, strategy is the long-term strategic goals of the game. Perhaps some players like to apply pressure from the middle. Or, interestingly, others may decide to pressure the opponent from the left or right flanks. No matter what the strategy is, players and newcomers alike will find an appreciation for strategy while differentiating the term from a tactic.
Although a strategy does come in different arrangements and ideas, it is certain that there is no right or wrong way to go about it. However, do keep in mind some strategies are better than others, though nobody is shamed for having a bad strategy. In this game, everyone's a winner as long as they understand what they should do next time.
Depending on the situation, chess pieces change in value. Some become better than others in different stages of the game.
The Rook, represented in the picture above, is about 5 points in value. The queen is 9 points. The knights and bishops are about 3 points. Every pawn is 1 point. The king, regardless, has no points because he is the king. If it was possible, he would have an infinite number of points because he is the most valuable piece in the game.
There are times where these numbers, or values, are irresponsibly inaccurate because you can't predict the weather of the game. For instance, if all of the pawns decide to lock up into each other, creating a twin chain of road blocks for both players, most if not all of the pieces of both sides will not be able to cross. The only piece that could cross, however, would be the knight, which is able to jump over pieces.
Interestingly, when there is an open position that only allows diagonal passage, the bishops, the diagonal fighters, increase in value.
There are also times when you're better off sacrificing a rook, of 5 points and usually one of the highest values for a piece, because the rest of your army has a better fighting chance if it were to be sacrificed. In fact, there are also times where the queen must be sacrificed in order to win the game, and these are decisions that must be made by the player.
You see, the values of all of the pieces aren't exactly constant. Very occasionally, the pawns will shed some light because there are times where they have the most value, especially when they are very close to entering their stage of transformation into a different form.
So you have promoted a pawn. Let's say you had to pick a favorite piece, regardless of its value.
Which piece would you pick?
Look Ahead 3+ Moves
Let's say your significant other is upset at you because you forgot to turn off the stove. Let's just say that. Well, the next time the opportunity arises you'll probably find yourself turning off the stove. This, my friends, is looking ahead of the game.
Ladies and Gentleman, looking ahead isn't exactly easy. It will take a lot of time in order to feel comfortable enough to create accurate hypothesis, if accurate at all. I mean, even Grand Masters make inaccurate assumptions, as one of them has to lose when placed head to head. Fortunately, you can still look ahead many moves if you practice.
One of the key benefits that translates in life is the reinforced ability to understand long-term goals. For one, sowing a seed today will yield into a tree a few years later. This tree, for you, will grow apples. If you knew you were going to need apples for your family to eat, you'd already looked ahead more than a few moves. This, my friends, is the concept of being able to look ahead.
Believe it or not, the game of chess has concepts of investments. Perhaps they aren't exactly the type of investments you would hear about in finances, they relate in a similar way, though it's not money you're growing. Rather, you're investing in the improvement of your pieces or the demise of your opponents' army.
When you make an extra move that seems to be counter-intuitive, it may be one of the best moves you have made in your life if it yields big later on in the game. For example, if you decide to leave a piece somewhere in the center of your game and captures a queen 10 moves ahead of the game, you have made an amazing investment that has yielded you gorgeous results.
You might get the gist of it already, but investments mean you can set up traps. Traps will earn you quite the dividend. Also, you can invest in your pieces in order to get more out of them.
Interestingly, it is also possible to invest time by committing to waiting moves that allow turns to pass by.
Investments is great for the world of chess, and when it comes to real life and finances, it's somewhat the same concept. Whether it's in the game or finances, you will learn that investing is the way to go if you want to win.
The Courage to Stand Alone
If you've ever left a child alone for one minute, you'd realize they would either cry or they wouldn't. However, when they feel threatened, they will most likely cry.
Sometimes you'll feel threatened when you're playing against different players and you'll most likely feel afraid. You'll shake up and you'll be tempted to ask for help. However, the rules of chess, especially in competitive play, don't allow for a person to ask for help. In fact, one side of the board is meant for only one person during a gaming session.
Crazy to think about, but interestingly, this forces players to develop a certain level of courage in all of their decisions. Although not all players' ideas will be completely sane, they will learn to believe in themselves, whether for the better or the worse. I find this to be one of the most powerful and driving lessons that chess has to offer.
Not Giving Up
One of the most important lessons to take from this game is that you shouldn't ever give up. No matter how hard the tasks at hand seem, you may find light at the end of the tunnel if you stick around long enough to continue the fight. Unfortunately, a lot of players end up learning to be quitters because they struggled to keep their heads on straight. Many players I know, especially friends, have given up the struggle and have learned to quit the game because they couldn't figure it out.
For those that stick around, I can promise you that this will translate into your life in a way that you won't easily understand. In fact, you probably will learn to never give up in everything and anything that you do. If you can learn to keep on fighting in a merciful struggle against an opponent in the game of Chess, you've probably set yourself for a world of optimistic opportunity. You'll perhaps be a winner for a lifetime, and this is a secret that most Grand Masters reap for their own lives.
© 2017 Fernando Gonzalez