Occassionally, everyone wishes that there was some type of how-to guide for decision-making for our everyday lives, though the strategies that ultimately lead us to make better life choices are what we spend most of our lives trying to discover. While you may not get a step-by-step approach handed to you at your front door, perhaps you've never considered how one game of chess can help you turn the odds in your favor.
In fact, most people consider life as a game of infinite choices, and those who learn the right strategies become the champs. If life were a game, it would be more often than not a battle of wits, much like the game of chess. Yet developing the right decision-making skills often works like other good things that are right in front of your eyes: You have to know where to look and what to use to your advantage. Fortunately for us, the game of chess has been in existence longer than most of us have been born, and can enhance our decision-making skills.
Playing a game of chess is full of strategy and exceptional skill. It utilizes concepts such as problem solving, critical thinking, strategic offensive play and tactical defensive structure. For example, the first world chess champion Wilhelm Steinitz provided the opportunity for the world to learn more about his "positional elements of sound play" as well as the importance of mobility and pawn structure. How does this relate to life? Let's break it down.
Mobility is a broad concept, but it generally refers to positioning your pieces so you can allow yourself the maximum number of possible moves. This principle sheds light on how necessary it is to place rooks and bishops on open tiles and diagonals as an advantage. So in actuality, a wise player knows that the key to succcess is keeping more open options than the opponent, which will in turn result in more opportunities to make the right choices or recover from a poor move. In life, this can be related to the life decisions we're forced to make: job opportunities, schooling and even day-to-day crossroads. By learning to keep your options open, you can leave space to plan for even bigger opportunities.
Another great rule of thumb, is the role of the pawn. One of the greatest chess players ever to come from France, Francois Andre Philidor, explained that, "Pawns are the soul of chess," and illustrated this throughout most of his technique. Philidor's influence in the world of chess came as no surprise when at the tender age of six, he blew away famous philosophers Rossseau and Diderot with his ability to master and play the game in the cafes of Paris—blindfolded! His most famous contribution is known as the Philidor position, which displays the importance of pawns as one of the more critical endgame techniques. When a defender has a king and rook versus a king, rook and a pawn, it is commonly known as the Philidor position, or the third rank defense. This allows for the offensive player to cut off the opposing king with a rook in the third rank.
As a life lesson, this move demonstrates how difficult tasks are often led by common work, and not necessarily by a high ranking leader. In your life, you can assume that you don't have to be a person of high rank to make a difference in the world. Even that person started somewhere, and when you set the ground work for an opportunity, the smallest person can do big things!
Even the mistakes you make in chess teach you valuable lessons, and you come out of every game feeling more motivated to learn how to win. If we all used these same techniques around the house, in the workforce and in the decisions that we come across, we'd grow more motivated and less terrified by difficult life decisions.
How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom is a great read authored by chess champion Garry Kasparov. Another great resource is NYChessKids for children and parents to learn more about the game. Big, small, large or tall, chess is for everyone and the earlier you start, the better you'll be. For children to develop the skills to make better choices, NYChessKids provides comprehensive programs and a fun learning center to start. So save yourself the hassle of navigating through decision-making blindly. Become a chess champion and a life champion too!
To find out more about chess progam with NYChessKids and more fun facts, click here.