Life Lessons from Chess
I think it was Bobby Fischer who said that “Chess is life” and Victor Korchnoi who said, “Chess is my life”. There is also a US-based publication called Chess Life. But enough of the puns, does chess reflect or the strategies learned in it be used in real life?
In my opinion, chess does not represent reality. If anything it is a means of escaping it. But some lessons can be learned from it for sure. For starters, in a fair world, there is equality. And if you look at a chessboard, both sides have an equal number of pieces. So already, chess doesn’t represent real life at all.
But what I mean to say is that by understanding equality and that it is only fair that you treat others like yourself that you will become more successful in life.
Chess Rules in Real Life
So what else about chess is useful? How about the chess rules themselves? If society had no rules, there would be chaos, inequality, and ultimately the downfall of mankind. But because as chess players, we follow rules and follow them well, it shows that we value order (for the most part).
When it comes to studying chess to become a better player (ambition), there needs to be disciplined. No good player is ever truly lazy, even talented players need to hone their skills now and again.
So far, we know that chess is not reality, but it can potentially help a person become more aware of equality, order, discipline, and ambition (and also working hard to get what you want).
Because chess is a one on one game, it also gives the player a certain level of responsibility. It is only through their actions that they can win (or lose) the game.
Another surprising side effect of the game is that it makes the player more well-behaved. So that’s probably why a lot of parents want their kids to learn chess, aside from the mental stimulation.
Chess may not be all that popular with the media, and it may not help you become a more popular person, but you do learn useful skills and values that you can apply to real life, whether you know it or not.
How chess is related to real life situations?
There have been many prominent chess players who have dedicated their lives to chess and live and breathe chess, but for us regular folk, the chess game is just a hobby or a pastime.
Many business leaders are also keen chess players, none that I can think of the top of my head, but the co-founder of Paypal, Peter Thiel is a strong player, and AJ Steigman, a former child prodigy but who is an entrepreneur and former investment banker.
They probably see the strategic value that chess can offer in their businesses so they are great advocates for the game. But why not use some of these strategies to help your everyday life?
I’m no expert in business but I can say with some confidence that thinking ahead and planning in everyday life is quite useful. This helps you be more punctual to work or school, be more organized, be on top of things and be more productive overall.
Chess also promotes hard work so if you were not so keen on doing things, learning and playing chess will motivate you to work harder. It’s not so much the exact chess strategy, like a fork or a pin, that you can use in everyday life, but the idea.
So for example, the fork, which is essentially a tactic that allows you to attack more than one enemy piece at the same time. You’re not going to go able to attack more than 1 thing or doing many things at the same time aka “multi-tasking”.
That would not be helpful. Instead, you should think of how you can make a specific thing in a certain way that allows you to achieve or complete more than 1 task at a time. For example, instead of cutting vegetables one at a time, you could buy one of those vegetable cutting tools in the infomercials and cut many vegetables at once. It’s all about saving time and being more efficient.
Out of a Bad Position
Another example is creating a plan to squeeze yourself out of a bad position. Not everyone can have winning positions in a chess game, so there’s bound to be a time when this will happen.
The key here is not to get too stressed out and play sensible, logical moves that improve your position without worsening your current position. If you’re a pawn down, you should try to trade down pawns and hold onto as many of your pieces as possible. In real life, this could be running late for work and getting stuck in traffic.
If you can re-route your GPS to a slightly longer but a route with less traffic and then find a parking spot that you wouldn’t normally pay for but you would get to work only a little late. It’s about slowly getting yourself out of a bad position, not worsening it, and minimizing your losses.
It’s your move.