10 Things That Sucking at Chess Has Taught Me About Life

10 Things That Sucking at Chess Has Taught Me About Life

The Game

I love playing chess. Mostly because it seems that I am involved in a very tiny way in one of the greatest collective intellectual achievements of humankind. The end result of centuries of crowd-sourced tweaking, chess is the ultimate brain-training app; it develops analytical skills, consequential thinking, pattern recognition and is a wonderful means of improving one’s creative problem solving skills. And chess is rife with analogies to life.

Despite a no small measure of jocular derision – mostly by those who do not understand it – there is a widespread sense of mystique and fascination around the ancient game – and especially around those high priests of the game: the revered grandmasters. It truly is one of modern civilization’s great on-going achievements.

Yes, I do love chess. Even if I do suck at it.

But even sucking at chess holds some key lessons. Here are some I’ve learnt:

What Sucking at Chess Has Taught Me About Life:

  1. There is nothing better than dedicated practice and study. No-one is born good at chess – they become good with years of practice and study. If you suck at chess, or at anything else, it’s very likely because you haven’t put in enough time, not because of preprogrammed lack of talent in your DNA.
  2. Playing too quickly is always a bad idea. Taking your time and thinking through the potential promises and pitfalls of key moves is the way to go.
  3. If you want to beat someone who is obviously better than you, make unexpected, unpredictable moves.
  4. Responding too aggressively too quickly usually lands you in a trap of your own making. Build solid defenses and take your time after suffering a loss before you make your next move.
  5. If you give up too quickly or become despondent too soon, you will never grow.
  6. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses after a game (or any life event) often means more than just flying into a new one.
  7. Giving up a key piece to gain a tactical advantage is always a good idea. Holding on to material for no particular strategic advantage gets you nowhere. The analogy here with life is that collecting and holding on to stuff for no reason serves no purpose.
  8. Look after your pawns and place them strategically. It’s the little guys on your side that often make all the difference.
  9. Trade badly placed pieces for your opponent’s well-placed ones.
  10. Simplify.


About Sean Hampton-Cole

Fascinated by thinking & why it goes wrong➫ (Un)teacher ➫iPadologist ➫Humanist ➫Stirrer ➫Edupunk ➫Synthesist ➫Introvert ➫Blogger ➫Null Hypothesist.
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4 Responses to 10 Things That Sucking at Chess Has Taught Me About Life

  1. Michael Stueben says:

    Have you ever noticed that the class C players, class B players, class A players, and maybe even experts will win about as often as they lose. So we all have the same experience. If you make up a game that is based on total luck, and then run an imaginary tournament, then some imaginary player will win it and some imaginary player will come in last. I’m not sure something like this is not
    going in in chess tournaments among players closely rated.

    One reason that we get depressed about our progress is that The pain of losing is more intense than the joy of winning.

  2. Louis dorse says:

    I never will win and furthermore don’t have to win every game I play in order to feel good about myself . I’ve met players at tournaments whose entire sense of self worth is tied up in constantly winning every game they play. If they come in at the bottom of the ladder they become almost catatonic with depression.

  3. vdmmelani says:

    I would like to add: You can plan all you want but you won’t get anywhere if you cannot adapt.

    Nice post Mr H-C.

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