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13 Lessons Chess Taught me About Life

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Introduction

I learned the game probably at 7. I love how it constantly requires you to think. I have seen my Nani and Nana play this game all my life. It has been their favourite past time. My earliest memory is that they would let my sister Nataliya and me play with the pawns that had been killed. Once when we were very young, my sister and I were playing. As soon as I finished my turn, she gave me a slap and told me that you can’t just move your pawn just like that. First, you have to think!

Our grand parents are the ones who taught us the rules of the game as well. It is impossible to beat them even today. They are now 87 and 92 year old but Mashallah wicked at chess. My most recent game with my nana was when I was taking too long at my turn and when I finished, he had gone to sleep. I was happy that I might have a chance of winning this time as he’s asleep. When I woke him up for his turn. He literally suddenly did his turn and gave me a check mate. I lost!

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According to Wikipedia, Chess is a two-player strategy board game which is played on a checkered board. It is one of the worlds most popular and intellectual games. It is played by millions of people worldwide in homes, parks, clubs, online, by correspondence and in tournaments.
Our family has always been fond of family time and playing different kinds of games together. Chess is  the only game that we haven’t gotten bored of yet. It is very intellectually challenging and both players can think of endless possibilities at every move.
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At times my Nana Jan admires my determination as I lose to my younger sister Waliya 80% of the time and mumble to her that I’ll never play with you again. I still end up playing with her the very next day. The only downside of this game is that it gets you so indulged that you forget everything else. You tend to waste a lot of time playing it. A single game of chess between me and my sister has even lasted for 1.5 hour. Winning from my younger sister deserves a photo. I am not a master, In fact I lose a lot but after about 20 years of growing up with chess, I realized that this game teaches us some valuable lessons in life. In this post I am sharing these with you.

It’s unbelievable how many lessons playing Chess has taught me about real life. From no second chances to evaluating opportunity costs, this game is really a life changer! Whether you are a Chess player or not, notice the impact it has made on me and my life.

14 Lessons Chess Taught me About Life

1. Predict the consequences of your actions

Whatever we do, we have to foresee the consequences. If we think of a move, we have to predict or foresee what our opponent would do. When we plan to do something in life, we must be aware of what the other person may do as a result of our behaviour or action.



2. Take calculated risk

We can’t just move our knight in front of the enemy without having someone who is protecting him. If we decide to do something extra-ordinary in life, we must enough information to support the decision or a back up plan .

3. Get out of your own way

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In chess if we don’t open up the area around the king, the king may be very easily killed. Sometimes your own people block your way out or we build walls around us,
and we ourselves have no place to run.
Similarly in life we can do things which suffocate ourselves. e.g. we don’t take care of our diet or sleep, or sit in uncomfortable postures. We harm no one but our own selves and become our own enemies.

4. Time is our biggest enemy

The majority of us do have a plan in mind but only the person who can put it into action in the least amount of turns (or time) wins. We only get a few turns in life so we have to plan our moves in life correctly. We need to try to minimize our steps towards reaching a goal.

Similarly in life we don’t live forever. If we are in a situation where we could have been there for some body, we shouldn’t let it go and make the most of it. We are also sent for a limited time in this life, so whoever can do good deeds within the time limit, wins in the hereafter.

5. We may never get a second chance

Many times we have almost won, and suddenly the opponent does just one turn and wins. In life we may never get a second chance so its crucial to do the right thing just at the right time. There may not be a tomorrow that we’re banking on.

Be action oriented. Sometimes we procrastinate so much that we lose. We are only planning our move to win but in that process someone else does it while you didn’t put your plan into action. Make your dreams come true. Do what you have to, and do it now.

6. Think of the impact

Don’t do any thing which won’t have a positive impact on your overall game, or something that won’t help the other members of your team. Think! Don’t waste your turns, energies or words in life. Use them only when they serve a purpose. In life its better to stay quiet or not do it if it won’t benefit neither yourself nor the people around you. e.g. Talking about foolish things or  backbiting doesn’t have any positive impact on the society or ourselves so it should be eliminated. So we should lead a life of impact, not of some one who once existed. Its good to do the things which will make a difference.

  7. Bad things happen, learn to accept that

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Bad things happen in life. We all lose our queens and then crib and moan on how we weren’t preparedfor it. Life is not fair unfortunately. Things happen that we wish never would. We lose our loved ones, people die. But one has to move on in life and get over it. Sometimes we obsess so much about a tragedy that we ruin the rest of our lives. Similarly, a good sportsman is the one who can quickly get over the fact that the empire gave one wrong decision. A bad approach would be to obsess over that one point, get so angry that you actually lose all the rest of the points. Whatever tragedy happens to you in life, try not to get into that self pity mode, just get over it and move on. After all life was never meant to be a bed of roses.

8. Focus on the future

Everyone makes mistakes, its what we do after the mistake that really matters. If you have played your turn stupidly, focus on what you can do now. We should think of how we can repent and not to do such a thing again. Focus on what you would do now, rather than crying about spilled milk.

9. Take care of your loved ones

If you love someone take care of them. We all have our favorite pawns that we absolutely love. For me its my queen and rooks. I would do anything in chess not to let them die. In life, if we love someone so much, we should make sure we don’t hurt them or force them into a place they don’t want to be in or that’s dangerous. Don’t send them on a mission impossible if you love someone. 


10. Sacrifice little things, Hold on to the main assets

In chess, we often have to sacrifice some of our small pawns in order to save the bigger ones. As long as we focus on our main assets, losing small ones is not a big deal. Sometimes in life in order to achieve something big you may have to let go of little things. Life is about compromises.

“If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to a noble entrance [into Paradise].”  The Holy Quran (4:31). 

11. The truth about rulers

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A leader/king of a territory does little himself but gets credit for everything. People are willing to do anything for their leader and even sacrifice thems

elves. The king can only move one box but he is the most important person of the entire territory. The king and queen are born like that, its nothing that they do special. Many times our leaders do nothing but take the credit of everyone else’s hard work and sweat. The people die, they seldom do.

 

12. Evaluate the opportunity cost

The more options you think of, the more confused you get. At every move, we have a choice of endless options, but the fact is that the more we think, the more we would confuse ourselves of what our next move should be. In life, when we are out shopping, we would get more confused if we have too many options. Its good to stick to 2-3 main options and choose from those rather than being too indecisive by finding endless options. Evaluate your opportunity cost, if it seems worth it, go for it.

13. Follow your heart

There are literally a 100 options of turns to choose from in chess and life. Once you start thinking, it becomes difficult to decide what to choose as your turn. In such a case, one should follow your heart and do what our heart tells us to.

14. Have the goal or purpose in mind

We should remember the goal in chess is mating the king. It is not about taking the queen or having more pawns, it is about someone who wins at the end, simple as that. Same in life, it doesn’t matter how many presentations you have done in your job, how many hours you worked; if you don’t have results, it is useless.

Conclusion

Thank you for taking out your precious time to read this post. If you are a Chess player, I would love to know what you learned through this game.

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P.S. Beware of Kitties when you are in the middle of war

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