Tag Archives: Chess

What does Chess teach us about life?

I recently start playing at a chess club after not looking at the game for 30 years, and observing some of the club players, and the game itself, a few thoughts occurred to me.

Photo by Richard Snow

Chess teaches us to think about the consequences of our actions. In chess we constantly have to think that “if I do this, the other guy will do that, and then I’ll have to do something else.” Too often in real life we do things without thinking how the other person will react, or what we’ll do in response.

The more often you practice the better you become. This goes without saying in chess, but it’s true for most things in life. The eight-year-olds, who regularly beat me at the club, have been playing since they were four, and they play on-line  every night.

Stopping and starting at things doesn’t make you good at anything. If you want to become good at something you have to practice regularly.

There’s no point in slamming your pieces around the board. Some people do. But if you have a strong position and a good move, it doesn’t become stronger because you put on a theatrical display of banging your pieces around. Same when you have a weak position and are making a weak move. Same thing in life. If you have a good argument for something, it doesn’t become better when you shout and carry on, or thump the table.

And finally, if you lose a game it’s not the end of the world. On some Saturdays, I’ve lost  eight games in a row. But that’s to be expected when I’ve only taken the game up a few months ago.  Some of the people at the club have been playing for thirty years.  At the end of the day, I learn some trap to avoid or some strategy to use. And I just need to plug away for a couple of years to become better at the game.

So what about you? Do you have any sports,  or hobbies that teach you more general lessons about life?. Leave a comment. Let us know.


The world is getting stranger: what do chess games have in common with assault rifles?

Chess players with assault rifles? Sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But first some other strange news:

A consumer agency in the US filed a law suit to ban the sale of “Bucky balls” (shapes that fit together with the aid of magnets inside them.) A total of twenty-two children had swallowed the magnets and suffered an injury, out of a total of 475 million magnets sold. Someone did a  bit of mathematics, and calculated the rate of injuries per 100,000 people from Bucky balls, tennis, skate boarding, and dog bites. Guess what’s most likely to give you an injury that needs medical attention? Guess first. I’ll tell you at the end of this blog.

In Australia, a youth on the run from the police decided to hide in the roof cavity of a house when the police came to a party. He should have stayed still, because when the moved, he fell through the ceiling, and into the long arms of the law. I’m sure the cops were surprised too.

Can you imagine chess players with  assault rifles? Neither can I. But it turns out that the Sicilian Defence, one of the most common chess openings, has a variation called the  Kalashnikov variation  What the Hell?? Well, the AK47 weapon was named after an Mikhail Kalashnikov, who invented it in 1947. Chess openings, as it happens, are often named after the city where they were first successfully used in an international tournament, or the player who made them famous by coming up with a new twist and winning unexpectedly. But the various chess websites and books I’ve consulted have no information as to which Mr Kalashnikov started the chess move. His first name appears lost to history.

AK 47 (photo from Wikipedia Commons)

And what about the Buckey balls? It turns out that tennis is more likely to cause you an injury than skateboarding, dog bites, accidental poisoning with household substances, and Buckey balls come last.    Click here for the stats.