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How Chess Can Make You Better At Business

How Chess Can Make You Better At Business

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When you see chess in movies, it's always associated with great minds—and there's a good reason for this: chess is the ultimate intellectual game. Being a great chess player requires superb strategic abilities, planning, calculation, pattern recognition, and making good trades/investments. All of these skills can be directly translated to business! 

In this article, we'll go over some of the ways that chess can help you become more successful in business.


Chess Makes You Consider Your Strengths And Weaknesses

If you've never watched a video of a great chess player explaining their thought process as they played, you probably should. It gives you tremendous insights into how the mind of good players work, and it will help you improve your own game.

If you've done it already, you've probably realized one thing: they're always looking at each players' strengths and weaknesses in a position. They know that it doesn't make much sense to challenge a player on the side of the board where all their forces are. They also notice when the other player makes a mistake and creates weaknesses in their position.

The video below is an excellent example of that. GM Daniel Naroditsky is playing a 512-rated player and goes over their mistakes. Watch how Naroditsky immediately recognized how White's 6.f3 would get them in trouble later.

If you have some business background, you've probably heard of the SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This analysis tool helps business people to create plans based on how strong or weak their company is in certain areas. It also lets them identify opportunities and threats that stem from their current position.

As you can see, the thought process for coming up with good chess moves or business moves is nearly the same. As a chess player, you'll be better prepared to take this analytical approach before making your next business move, increasing your chances for success.

Chess Helps You Create Plans

Chess players are familiar with the adage that "a bad plan is better than no plan at all." Moving your pieces around with no bigger goal in mind will leave you nowhere. Worst yet, it can make you waste valuable tempi and, eventually, the game.

Chess and Business

It's fair to say the same about business. If you don't have an action plan and long-term strategy, you probably won't get very far. Chess helps you to develop the habit of stepping back and looking at the bigger picture.

Chess Teaches You To Adapt Your Plans

Legend has it that during the 1958 Soccer World Cup, the coach for the soon-to-be champion Brazilian team was talking to the players before their game against the Soviet Union. After the coach explained his detailed plan to defeat the Soviets, one of the best players on his team asked, "Have the Russians agreed on all of this, then?"

As much as making plans is a crucial part of chess and business, the fact is that your opponents have plans of their own. They will do everything in their power to frustrate your plans and to make things go the way they want.

How Chess Can Make You Better At Business

Good chess players know that sometimes they need to adapt their plans to the new positions that arise after their opponents move. If a better move is possible, they don't hesitate to play it. If a bigger threat appears, they take the time to defend against it.

In the fast-paced world that we live in, adaptation is crucial to the success of a business. Chess will teach you the adaptation skills necessary to keep your company alive and thriving.

Chess Makes You Manage Your Resources Better

In chess, everyone starts with limited resources, and it's up to each player to decide how to use those resources to achieve their goal. Good chess players know how to maximize the strengths of each piece and minimize their weaknesses. They also know how to make their pieces work together because they understand that a well-coordinated army is worth more than the sum of each unit.

How Chess Can Make You Better At Business

Business people must also know how to make the most out of their resources. Be it money, time, or the abilities of their team, a successful business person is always striving to maximize output with minimal investment. Taking a lesson from chess, managers and business owners can do wonders by perfecting resource management.

Chess Shows You The Importance Of Learning From The Masters

In Anders Ericsson's and Robert Pool's book Peak, the authors use scientific studies to discuss what makes people achieve peak performance. Their book talks about one of the most inspiring (and, to some degree, bizarre) experiments in history—the birth and raising of geniuses by Lazlo and Klara Polgar.

Lazlo Polgar, an educational psychologist, firmly believed that any healthy newborn could become a genius if raised for that. He explained his theory to Klara, a foreign language teacher, and they both decided to test the idea. After marrying and having three girls, the couple successfully raised them to become chess geniuses. One of them, GM Judit Polgar, is still considered the best female player of all time.

Susan Sofia Judit Polgar
From L-R: Polgar sisters Sofia, Judit, and Susan in 1988. Photo: R. Cottrell/Wikimedia, CC.

Among other things, part of the training regimen of the children included studying the chess games of masters. By analyzing what the best players in history did, the girls could apply the ideas they saw to their own games. They borrowed everything that worked, and as importantly, discarded everything that didn't. They built astronomically successful careers doing so.

Analyzing what works and what doesn't is a part of any serious chess player life, and it's a skill that makes all the difference in business, too. The savvy business person studies the best practices in their industry to follow and improve on them, too. Chess will reinforce the necessity of constantly learning from others how you can improve your own business.

Have you noticed another way that chess has helped you in business? Let us know in the comment below!

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