The Power of Chess

The Power of Chess

Chess is a truly fascinating game and once it has attracted you, it is so much more than just a board game. Chess involves a wide spectrum of skill sets which can be quite essential in school or in business: tactics, strategy, creativity, planning, execution, and analyzation.

To the mere observer the chess pieces are plain wooden pieces, and the chess board seems to look like a mathematical puzzle; but chess is more than that.

Chess has it all. To begin with, it has a long tradition and is rooted deep in world’s history. Historic figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire, Rosseau, Gotthold Lessing, they all played chess.

To the chess player chess is a war game, a constant struggle of power, a winner-takes-all fight or check-and-balance diplomacy (if you play for a draw). David Shenk, in his excellent book “The Immortal Game” about the history of chess, cites the ninth-century poet Ali ibn al-Jahm:

The [board] is placed between two friends of known friendship. They recall the memories of war in an image of war, but without bloodshed. This attacks, that defends, and the struggle between them never languishes.

As much it is a game about winning, it is also a game about losing. Chess helps you to know yourself better, to know your weaknesses, and to identify the risks and errors you have taken which eventually lead to your downfall. You will learn nothing at all if you only beat lower-rated opponents, but if you lose against a master, you will learn the reasons why you have lost (suffice to say that you will also lose quicker than expected). Especially, if the master tells you where you went wrong or shares his insights with you, you will gain valuable learning experiences. This learning process is quite crucial to your path towards improvement.

Within the game, there are three phases: opening, middle game, and endgame. Between all three phases, the chess player basically switches between a long-term strategy (the grand vision) and short-term tactics (opportunities). Overall, you need to remain flexible and to switch between these two components (in fact, there are many more…). If you stubbornly insist on your vision and don’t look out for tactics, you will lose quicker than you might have anticipated. And if you play in a too pragmatic way, you will eventually become a byproduct of your opponent’s vision. Just as in our daily lives, we are faced with many small and big decisions, some based on opportunities and some based on our big picture plans.

Last but not least, you need to enjoy and have fun playing chess. However, if you want to improve and if you are eager to thrive for better results, you need the required discipline in order to walk down the way leading to mastery. You need to study openings and practice techniques. Playing regulary and and bringing everything what you learned into a practical context is equally important. Also, you need to review and analyze your games in order to get better and learn from both of your good moves and bad moves.

Now, call your friend and ask if he or she wants to play a game of chess. Have fun!

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