Life is Like Chess...

Life is Like Chess...

Jan 12, 2009, 6:23 AM |

No. No, it is not.
Not ever!

Life is not like chess at all, unless you happen to be playing hundreds of simuls with half of them blind-folded and the ratings of your opponents range from 500 to 2500, some with clocks & some without – and the few that have them, the clocks unreliable and the allotted times are never equal per side.

And you're playing these games in the dark.

With a flashlight.

On a ship at sea.

In a storm.

With 7m swells.

Life is something infinitely more complex and chess is "only" very complex. So the problem with this simile (Life is like...) is that it is taking the general and packing it into a specific example. Case in point: I would never claim that my wife - whom is a very minute and discreet subset of Life (mine, hers and others) - that she is like a game of chess (let alone like A GAME as an abstraction). That is not fair to her. And it make chess out to be more than it is: a game.

Here are some clear arguments against "Life as Chess":

  • Life is not fair. Chess has rules and are enforceable – you can walk away from a game if they aren’t adhered to; if in Life, your opponent breaks rules, you aren’t always at liberty to walk away.
  • Life is not timed. Well, this is arguable from different perspectives: we all die and thus our time ends. But basically even if you believe our time on Earth is set, I’m sure you would concede that we are never privy to the seeing what time we have on our clocks for every situation.  I’m talking about how long an issue lasts, not our daily schedules on our Blackberries or Calendars on the fridge. Certainly we never get to see the “other guy’s” clock - whether the other guy is a friend, nemesis or just a Life issue from our health or wealth.
  • Life is not limited. You may remove pieces from the boards, but often they come back, or are promoted mid-board not having reached the back. By pieces here, I mean the tools you acquire, but also the problems you face. These are both constantly coming and going. So you hardly ever get to reach End Game.

Now, I'm all for proposing useful models that help us simplify difficult problems into a more manageable perspective, but I'm not sure how people can believe this Life-as-Chess is a useful homily other than a caveat that you must deeply consider your decisions before making any moves.

Because in Life, there are no take-backs and the consequences are Real.