Why Life Is a Game of Chess (And Why It Helps to Know This)
By Darren Matthews
Life is a game of chess.
Right now, you’re thinking one of two thoughts. I know—or more likely, as you reflect on your knowledge of chess and try to form a comparison, is life really a game of chess?
A more significant observation comes when we look for games within our lives.
Competition riddles life. For example, schools are obsessed with league tables, and success is defined more by status than happiness, even though the later is far more important.
Games are everywhere.
Financial health is your credit score. Physical health is your BMI, and education success is judged on the grades you receive and so on.
Life is a game.
Even with this association, I find people end up in one of three positions.
Those who don’t see life as a game
Those who do, but lose
Those who win
Most people don’t see life as a game, let alone a chess game. These people rarely, if ever win. They see luck as a fluke.
It is a big problem.
When you see life as a game, things change.
Luck becomes seen as an opportunity. One you can prepare for and be ready to seize when it appears.
But I digress.
So, what does chess have to do with life? After all, they don’t strike an obvious relationship.
Chess offers insights few consider when seeking to understand life.
When we begin to see the comparison, our minds become open to new ways of living. Decisions take on a different dimension as the future begins to matter more than today.
Chess and life are the same.
Chess And Life
Is the game of life really comparable to chess?
To answer this, I want us to look closer at the game of chess. The classic board game requires many single piece moves. Most of them appear inconsequential.
But combine those moves with a strategy filled with tactical flair and a winner appears.
We believe our decisions embody the same single piece moves chess offers.
Most of our choices and actions appear unimportant to our futures so we act quickly. Our urge to move with haste is enforced by biases telling us we’re right, so we act. We fail to see the relationship between each decision and often it is only a matter of time before we end up losing.
Here lies the truth of this unusual comparison.
Author Allan Rufus said “Life is like a game of chess. To win you have to make a move. Knowing which move to make comes with insight and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way. We become each and every piece within the game called life.”
The most important sentence is this: “Knowing which move to make comes with insight and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way.”
Insight and knowledge are grasping the connections which exist unseen between every single decision you make and every consequence you create.
The same logic applies when playing chess.
Every single piece moves matters—and life is no different.
Our greatest challenge is that we miss this. Of course, this is compounded by a further problem.
The game of life demands we play many games—often at the same time.