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Fun & Learning: How Chess Makes Kids Smarter and Wiser in Life



How Playing Chess Can Make You Wiser In Life

by JC Campbell

Chess is a fascinating, complex game that appeals to the intellect, a pursuit both entertaining and enlightening for people of all ages. Far from being a simple game that provides a period of amusement or competition, chess can be a game capable of developing your thinking faculties, a game of strategy and planning you can apply to life as you endeavor to make wise decisions. Because chess is a game involving strategy, thinking ahead and viewing the situation from your opponent's point of view, it is a fitting example of one that can be applied to our desire to live wisely. Like chess, life is full of decisions that often require clear thinking and sober consideration before making a move.

Yes, the comparison of the game of chess to the game of life is a very apt one.

When a game of chess begins, both players are on an equal footing but even at this early stage, the first move is important. Those who play chess seriously will know that their opening gambit will affect the pattern of the game and for this reason, will usually refrain from using an opening that is overly adventurous and where the progression of the game will be unpredictable. The same is true of life. Decisions we make in our youth can have a marked effect in later life, setting the course our life will take in areas like career, relationships and health. Making wise decisions when we are young can be likened to the opening gambit in chess, a move that can have an irreversible effect on our life pattern. Those early decisions can seem to be wise at the time and prove to be the opposite as the years pass by. Whatever happens, we learn to adjust by making new decisions and taking ourselves in another direction as chess players often have to do during a match.

It is no accident that good chess players, even with years of experience, will think long and hard before making a move. The reason why chess players spend so much time deliberating is because they are considering all the possible options available to them and ensuring their next move will not leave them in trouble. This is one of the true fundamentals of good chess play, the ability to evaluate their current position and to look ahead with a view to determining where their next few moves will lead. How many of us have often wished we had taken more time before making important decisions in life? Making hurried decisions in life is very often like the hasty move on a chessboard, once the move is made, it is too late to reverse and the consequences have to be accepted. Taking time to think carefully before making important decisions in life is a lesson we can learn from the ancient game of chess!

Even when you do make a move in a chess game that has been given thorough consideration, you have no control over the next move made by your opponent and that is why chess is also a game that requires adjustment in our thinking and strategy. The same can be true when we make what we consider wise decisions in life. We never know how others will respond and how this might affect the course, we have taken. Family, friends or colleagues can all influence our lives in an unexpected fashion and as in chess; this requires adjustment and perhaps the need to rethink our strategy. Although good chess players can look ahead and try to determine how their opponent will counter their moves, they cannot be sure that the game will run on the course they envision. Appreciating this in life will help us to follow the course of wisdom as we make necessary adjustments to the direction we have chosen, recognizing that nothing is certain, even with the best of planning. Have a strategy, but like the chess player who is faced with a surprise move on the part of his opponent, have the wisdom to adapt and be flexible in your situation.

Another element found in the game of chess that relates to our ability to live wisely is the need to be patient as we strive to reach our goals and realize our aspirations. The goal of a chess player may be to capture his opponent's pieces and eventually reach the point of "checkmate", but he realizes that this will not happen quickly. In the meantime, he enjoys the game; it brings him pleasure to be in a contest with a like-minded chess enthusiast. This can be an appropriate parallel as we recognize that we often have to be patient when it comes to our dreams and ambitions. While we work toward our goals, remember to enjoy life at the same time. If a chess player becomes so intent and possibly anxious about winning the game, he may fail to enjoy the experience. We too could become so blinkered and eager to reach our goals that we forget to enjoy the life we have. For example, many career-minded people have completely lost sight of their friends and family in their pursuit of position or riches. By the time they reach their desired goals, they have lost the opportunity to spend time with their children, who have perhaps now grown into adulthood. By all means keep the end goal in sight, but like the good chess player who plays for pleasure, enjoy what life has to offer as you aspire to fulfill your ambition.

Viewing the game of chess as an instrument we can employ to live our lives wisely, goes beyond the objective of trying to win against a rival. Understanding the strategy involved, taking into account the variables that exist with an assortment of pieces that move in different ways and have varying strengths. This comprehension of the game can be a positive influence on those who have authority over others in numerous walks of life. Whether you are a manager in the workplace, a teacher caring for a group of children or caring for people in a pastoral capacity, it is the course of wisdom to use those people according to their strengths. This is a fundamental concept in the game of chess, the ability to utilize a variety of pieces for the greater good of the group. Though the pawns may be considered weaker than the queen, possibly even expendable, in reality, the pawn can be used to leave the opposition king in checkmate. Making the best use of all sixteen pieces you have at your disposal achieves the overall purpose in winning the game. So it is with the person who has the task of managing a variety of people with different strengths and weaknesses. Having the wisdom to employ each person for the good of the cause results in achievement.

Not to be overlooked within the game of chess are the qualities it encourages in those who play. Although it is ironically a game that has its origins in war, it does nevertheless promote qualities that can be put to good use in everyday life. Because chess is a game played in a peaceful, calm environment and is cerebral in nature, it encourages patience, discretion, decisiveness, caution and common sense. As people rush through life, often making snap decisions on important matters, thinking with the mind of a chess player can encourage us to take a more measured and calculated approach to major and minor decisions. Chess definitely encourages a deliberate thought pattern that can assist us in making wise choices and living life in a way that is never reckless and damaging. Wisdom is a quality that is inextricably linked with the game of chess, a game perceived as one played by people with a higher level of intelligence. The thinking man's game. It is fitting to apply the fundamentals of chess to living our lives wisely, as it prompts clear thinking and mental awareness, things that should be evident in life itself.

Ultimately, chess is more than just a game that is played for recreation, pleasure or competition. Unlike any other board game in existence, chess is extremely complex with variables you will not find in any other pastime. The multiplicity of possible moves in one chess match is staggering and means that no two games are alike. Apart from the fact that it is a game designed to keep you mentally alert, chess is also effective in providing parallels that can translate into real life and contribute to living wisely. The unpredictability in a chess game reflects our experiences in life, changeable in nature and requiring us to make adjustment constantly. What may appear to be a good move can easily turn out to be disastrous and vice versa. Accepting that life is not always smooth will help us to act wisely when important decisions are called for. Approaching life in the same fashion as the chess grandmaster will encourage us to take a focused and purposeful outlook. We will be less likely to make reckless and irresponsible decisions if we adopt the mindset of the chess player who thinks clearly and considers his steps before making a move. Whether we are playing a game of chess or the game of life, making wise decisions is vital as they can have a lasting and irreversible impact.

Your move!







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