How to Learn Life Lessons from Chess

Genius Turner

"Chess holds its master in its own bonds, shackling the mind and brain so that the inner freedom of the very strongest must suffer" —Albert Einstein
Because life boils down to problem-solving, life is ultimately one long chess match.(Jan Vašek/Pixabay)

Perhaps life is one long chess match

"You have to learn the rules of the game," said Einstein. "And then, you have to play better than anyone else."

As for playing "games" of every kind, so far as a game is any rule-based activity with an objective or goal, it's apparent that life must be a game. Ultimately! And perhaps the game that best mirrors life is none other than chess.

Life and chess both involve making moves before their players can win. In both games, knowing which moves to make often requires the three "INs" — insight, intuition and instinct.

Knowing beforehand which moves to make requires insight. And the more such lessons are learned along the way, intuition and instinct develop. This explains why in life, as in chess, experience is called the mother of wisdom.

Because knowledge is long but life is short, players of the game accelerate their learning curves by studying past moves. In life, Socrates — the wisest man of all — described this wise approach as follows:

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.

In chess, the above practice is known as studying the games played by grandmasters. And by doing so, whenever a player happens to come across a similar setup, he or she can recall how the grandmaster successfully played certain moves.

The following chess game, considered the most famous in history, sheds light on several life lessons.

The Match of the Century

In 1972, Fischer and Spassky played "The Match of the Century."

When the Match of the Century started, chess lovers held their breath. It was a phenomenal display of artistry. The two Grandmasters, at the peak of their powers, went toe-to-toe.

"The first game started out with some minor psychological games, in the opening, but then it calmed down," recalled Susan Polgar, a Grandmaster. "And the position that we reached after 28 moves, seemed like a complete draw. It seemed like they were gonna agree to a draw shortly, and move on to the next game."

Chess master Anthony Saidy added:

All the pieces were traded. They got into an endgame. Each side had a bishop and a bunch of pawns. It was a very easy game ... It was a dead draw. The position reached very even position, virtually symmetrical. And Fischer went haywire! He did something that hardly anyone would do except a rank amateur. He grabbed a pawn, allowing his bishop to be trapped.

Shelby Lyman went so far as to have dubbed Fischer's move "a colossal beginner's blunder. He took a pawn which allowed Spassky to trap his bishop. We couldn't believe it!"

In the chess world, this first game is affectionately known as "The Poisoned Pawn."

Takeaway Life Lesson
Like chess, life boils down to not only being able to read the signs but also acting in agreement with such insights.(Draggin/Flickr)

Though Bobby Fischer was a better player than Spassky, in this particular game — Fischer's greatest strength also served as his greatest flaw.

Fischer was head-strong, to the point of being arrogant. And because he was fueled by pride, said to go before the fall, despite knowing all the signs pointed to settle for a draw — Fischer took an unnecessary risk. In short, just as he lost the chess game, in life, making such careless moves usually end in losing.

Take for instance the married lady who spots the warning signs that she and a coworker are getting a tad too "cozy." The more she elects to ignore such signs, the more she falls for the poisoned pawn.

"One must learn to read the signs," whispers Bacife. "They are there . . . all around. There is a pattern to life — tap into that!" And because there's a pattern to chess, too, chess teaches life lessons. Or as Bobby Fischer once put it:

Chess is life.

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My writing is popular in academia (biology, psychology, etc.) and on websites such as Quora (millions of views) and Medium. Also, I'm signed to the same literary agency as Eckhart Tolle. In short, my sole mission in life is to serve my brothers and sisters from all walks of life.

New York City, NY

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