Inexperienced players have a fear of this piece, which seems to them enigmatic, mysterious, and astonishing in its power. We must admit that it has remarkable characteristics which compel respect and occasionally surprise the most wary players. – Eugene Znosko-Borowski
The knight on a chess board provides a useful analogy for the divergent set of skills required to thrive in the twenty-first century.
The knight is unique. It is the most nimble piece there is. It alone can bound over others and it moves in unusual and interesting ways. Properly placed, it can defend and attack multiple other pieces at once. It is an essential (and hugely under-valued) component of any properly executed strategy. Even the queen, who relies so much on brute force, is incapable of doing what the knight can do.
The knight knows the value of collaboration. It has to work with other pieces with differing skills. It appreciates diversity. Pawns like to support pawns, their brothers in chains, bishops like to work in crooked teams, and haughty rooks like to be joined in battle. But the knight works beautifully with every other piece.
A knight needs to be active and engaged from the start. Off on the side-lines, it has very little value. But find your knight a centralized outpost and it becomes an essential part of the game, always looking to pounce on any opportunity which comes its way.
Knights are sometimes awkward… but that’s okay. They are the least symmetrical, most unusual piece on the board. But this does not make them shy and embarrassed. It is their very difference which makes them such indispensable pieces.
Leaping as they do, knights almost seem to enjoy their lop-sided L-shaped moves. Many chess sets depict them as grinning. Some think of it as a malevolent smirk or a pulled bridle – I think of it as a joyful grin. Knights come out early, enthusiastic to do their bit and to be involved. They are not as reserved as rooks which only come out to play once the vanguard have set things up, or as skulky as the bishops – which prefer to hide away and attack from afar.
Knights are open and honest – not devious like the bishop – which lies in wait, ready to pin and skewer unsuspecting targets. If a knight makes ready to pile-in, you know it.
Knights are multi-taskers – best used to fork two or more pieces. Yet they are humble – never going on about being superior to this or that piece like the rooks and queen do.
And finally, the knight loves strategic and tactical play. It is a thinking piece, metaphorically speaking. Think about the pawns which trudge ever-forward as if to overwhelm by pure numbers, or the queen which simply demolishes her way through weak opposition. In contrast, the knight loves to be used as part of a well thought-out and innovative sequence of moves. Look at the bulk of chess brilliancies through history and you will notice the knight is an integral part of any astounding sequence.
A knight symbolizes collaboration, the appreciation of diversity, the joy of active involvement, enterprise, nimbleness, humility, enthusiasm, careful thinking, creativity, openness and embracing difference. Knights might not be the most powerful pieces, but they make the most of their limitations. They are enigmatic, they are unique and they are, in the end, what most people think about when they think of the game of chess.
You could be a pawn plodding forward slowly with only the promise of a resurrection in the afterlife to keep you going, or the rook always skirting the edges. You could be a queen: all haughty and cruel or you could be a devious bishop. You could even be a king cowering behind your defenses, letting others fight your battles for you.
Or you could be a noble knight.