Life Lessons from the Game of Chess


Learning to play chess well can teach us lessons about the game of life, too. The values of strategizing; thinking ahead; patience; flexibility and adaptability; establishing a secure position before making aggressive, and potentially risky, moves; being alert to recognizing and seizing upon unexpected opportunities; considering all possibilities before settling on a single one, even when the “right choice” might appear obvious, deceptively obvious; reining in impulsive decision-making; recognizing when it’s advantageous to keep fighting and when it’s sensible to admit defeat and move on; developing a considered plan of action based on previous experience and theoretical knowledge; studying the opposition and looking for habitual weaknesses; and continuing to learn and improve, even when one has achieved prolonged success. This list is by no means exhaustive. Chess, which is a deep game, models much of the situational complexity of life. Of course, history has shown us many examples of chess masters whose personal lives, apart from the 64 squares, were quite chaotic. Thus it is not immediately clear that ability at the chess board translates into a talent for living. Still, if we reflect upon what makes a good chess player, we might be able to pause at moments when faced with problems in our daily lives and say to ourselves, “If this were a challenge in a mid-game, what inner resources would I need to draw upon to get the optimal result?” That recourse to mindfulness might lead us to overcome a host of bad choices.


I think chess is a great microcosm of any power struggle in life, and the lessons can be applied elsewhere. Patience, shoring up your own weaknesses, identifying your opponents, and the striking at just the right time and at just the right place... These lessons can be applied to war, business, love, or virtually anything else.


People are always asking me how I knew something was gonna happen - I invariably reply "I'm a chess-player, I'm used to thinking ahead" Smile - wish I did it more when playing chess though ! Laughing


Sacrifice those below you if doing so will improve your own lot in life even a trifle.


WindyCity, your sentiments are much appreciated hereSmile

And they apply to everyone, save Fischer. He was just a jack-ass.

Oxbloom wrote:

Sacrifice those below you if doing so will improve your own lot in life even a trifle.

While sacrificing a pawn or even a queen in the game of chess may be tactically advantageous, would we sacrifice individuals we cared about simply because if advanced our cause. In warfare, commanders often must call upon troops to engage in deadly missions that will likely result in heavy losses. But such cold calculation must be weighed against humanitarian values of protecting human life at any cost and saving the innocent. Chess as a model of moral values has its distinct limitations.


Don't play around with a Russian


So if the goal is to "mate", why are we playing chess?


Thanks for inlightining the dim lit people of the crazy world by explaining that chess is more than just a game..The moors my ancestors brought this game to the masses ions similate true remember study long study wrong...hotep

jb1817 wrote:

Thanks for enlightening the dim lit people of the crazy world by explaining that chess is more than just a game..The moors my ancestors brought this game to the masses ions simulate true remember study long study wrong...HTTP


Chess is a fascinating game, endlessly variable and dynamic. But it is only a game. Life is infintely more complex, even though chess, as an analogue of life, says much about what we face daily in our existential struggles.


Yes, my friend, but life's uncertainty can oftentimes lead to wondrous, joyous surprises. Life's dénoument is inevitably sad, if we view our inexorable death as a tragic finale, but given this existential constraint, much of life is still worth living. Through no volition, we find ourselves as human beings in this world, for better or worse, and we have some control, if not perfect mastery, over what we make of it. Unlike life, chess has invariable rules. Our control over the universe of the 64 squares depends soley upon our imaginations and our capacities for memory and abstract thought; life, however, is a messier prospect; emotions play a large role in determining the outcome of our "moves". I believe that there are rules in the game of life, but they exert only limited effect on our "fate". Much of what happens to us is accidental in nature. In chess, the stronger player always, or almost always, wins. In life, the good often die young. In life, the best move can lead to nothing, and the worst to fame and fortune. Such is life, and yet, life's the only game in town. Chess is a side show.

I agree with WindyCity, and I would add, that people are not expendable, and if treated so, can not be reused again after the the board is reset. Chess pieces can be used over and over again without holding grudges.

So does Chess send you insane or keep you sane ? keep Chess in perspective it is a game, but also a great way to make friends, challenge yourself, bridge international barriers,at the same time teaching you humility in your limitations. Chess for me has been a refuge in hard times when I've needed a distraction. I've seen Chess bridge race, generations, create conversations bringing people together who would never enter each others space. " It's giver of life lessons"  "But not life"

Wow! This thread died ten years ago.

WOW!!!!! Constructive comment, I wish you and all you care for health ,wealth and happiness. have a good life.