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Life and Chess

Chess is has been around for over 1500 years and has been remodeled into the many versions that we can find today. While there have been multiple speculations about the paternity of this exceptional board game, the predominant theory accepts an Indian origin of the game. Right from the mythology, chess has now found a place into an online community of people from all over the world who meet to enjoy and learn the game. Chess has been cultivated into a form of competitive indoor game and has been creating lustrous chess careers for so many people. It is a sport in itself and one cannot deny the many life lessons and pearls of wisdom there are to be taken back from Chess.

Chess has three major phases- the opening, the middle game, and the endgame. Life mirrors its stages in the form of the corresponding phases of student life, work-life, and then retirement. A good opening leads to better middle game positions, and good middle gameplay can lead to a favorable endgame position. Every phase of chess play, much like real life, imbibes in us important values. We must make the most of each phase and not get disheartened if one of them doesn’t turn out as we had expected it to. Chess teaches impeccable patience, constant perseverance, and critical thinking, which are crucial skills for tackling the obstacles that life throws at us. Chess classes act like mini camps of valuable knowledge and sportsmanship for players. It is what instills into them a burning desire to pursue chess as a career. The following are a few ways in which we can incorporate the leanings of chess into our lives.

The Arena (The Battlefield of Chess) – Chessboard: Chess play is more often than not, tactical and strategic. We must be prepared to play in whichever way the game develops. Our choice or mood should not influence the game. Likewise, life has its ways of unfolding inanities ahead of us. What we plan in life and what actually happens is, every so often, different. We may not get what we always wanted. And so, we must be ready to tackle every situation of life as it comes.

You’ll Make a Bundle of These – Blunders: Most games are lost by blunders. So a good chess player makes the best effort to avoid them. In life, we need to proactively identify and avoid blunders which may cause great damage to us. To win, you must refrain from creating huge mistakes that cannot be reversed. As a chess coach, I make sure to sculpt the skills in the students that provide them with technical expertise.

Tempo: they say, timing is everything. To succeed, we must know how to perform the right move at the right time. We mustn’t lose our tempo during the game. Similarly, it’s best to pace our lives judiciously and in directions that we eventually want to follow. We must be capable of realizing what is a waste of time. Every move should be made with the intention to fulfill our plan of action.

King’s Safety: The safety of the King is the priority. In the same way, our health life should be our top-most priority in life. In the game, we must never expose the King open for attack. Similarly, we must know how to guard the most important asset we have got- our health and well-being. Innocent looking vices and habits may, sometimes, cause your ultimate downfall. If there is no king, what are you really playing for; if there is no life, what are you really living for?

The Best Move: Every move is important. A player always tries to find the best move possible in any given situation. The best move is found by considering alternatives and evaluating likely future positions. Likewise, we should recognize our best abilities and skills with consideration of our future. This will help us plan the best course of action at a given time in life.

Improving Position: A chess player is always looking for an opportunity to place his pieces on squares from where they can control an open file or an open diagonal. Similarly, in life, we should actively look for actions that can improve our current position and open up a new door of opportunities for us.

Sacrifice: I still remember a precious piece of advice my chess coach gave me. It was that sacrifice doesn’t necessarily mean you’re bowing down. It may become a climbing step towards the win. A true player does not hesitate to sacrifice for a win or to even defend the position. Similarly, we should be conscious of the priorities in our life. If our goals call for sacrifice and compromise, we must give all that it takes to achieve the greater good.

Timing: A good chess player uses his time wisely. He uses more thinking time for the critical moments in the game. Time must be wisely used in our lives by allocating more time to important and productive activities. Once the right time passes, you cannot get it back. Like mentioned earlier, timing is everything.

Planning: One thing that chess classes constantly emphasize is the significance of planning. Chess teaches us to look ahead of time and plan. We can use this skill to progress in life. Planning is one of the essential ingredients of success.

Concentration: Chess games are sometimes played for hours. The player has to be able to focus on concentration for prolonged periods. This ability to concentrate and focus will help you massively in any other arena of life.

Optimism: I believe that chess classes act as schools in themselves that provide students with insights they can only learn from the game. Good chess play happens when you are not focused on the opponent but the game. Even if the opponent is stronger, a positive mindset can help a player to perform the best. Such an optimistic attitude is needed in life to be able to do our best in adverse circumstances. We must learn to see the good in a difficult situation. Hope and optimism are what keeps us going.

Lessons From Failures: Though every player plays to win the game, losses are inevitable. A chess player can grow by analyzing the losses instead of getting consumed by them. Similarly, we learn from the mistakes we make in life. As a chess coach, I make it a point to tell my students that failures only mean that you are trying and moving somewhere rather than being stagnant. It is important to make these mistakes. Chess careers like every other journey become more beautiful from the leanings we get from the errors. For until you don’t know what is it that you are doing wrong, how will you ever do the right?

-Swati Salwe
Chess Coach, SMCA

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