Life Lessons from Playing Chess

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Playing Chess to Learn About Life

Chess is a useful game for teaching tactics and strategy. Compared to poker, chess involves less luck and psychology — and more skill.

Here are a few life lessons that chess can teach a Dangerous Child:

  1. Take the time to learn the basics
  2. Besides the basic rules for each piece, there are “rules of thumb” for basic strategies for opening your game, and basic tactics for capturing and checkmating.
    “Rules of thumb” can save a lot of time in chess and in life.

  3. Think before you play
  4. It is tempting to jump right in and move the various pieces here and there without paying much attention to how quickly things change. But if you want to get better, you will learn to evaluate the board before each play, from both sides of the board.

  5. Consider different intermediate and long term outcomes for each move
  6. Each move involves a lot of choices. Try to make the best move by its repercussions later in the game.

  7. Focus on your goal
  8. In chess, you want to checkmate your opponent. If you can devise a strategy to checkmate in 5 moves, choose that strategy — rather than just slugging it out in a war of attrition.

  9. Develop a plan but be prepared to change it
  10. Every good opponent has the ability to surprise you, and force you to develop alternative strategies.

  11. Don’t waste moves
  12. Every move you make should advance your plan. Playing around moving pieces back and forth just allows your opponent more time to develop his plan.

  13. Don’t sacrifice a piece without getting good value for it
  14. When you sacrifice a piece, you should be “buying” something more valuable than the piece you are giving up, in terms of position or capture.

  15. Take what you can, keeping the above rules in mind
  16. Even if it is just a free pawn, taking your opponent’s material helps to set up advantageous situations later in the game. But always look a gift horse in the mouth.

  17. Use your pieces in ensemble fashion
  18. Chess pieces (and pawns) work best together. Your pieces should defend each other, while also facilitating a “gang attack.”

  19. Chess teaches problem solving and visualisation
  20. Your brain becomes what it thinks. If it is thinking about solving problems and seeing solutions in the mind’s eye, such thinking can become a habit.

  21. Chess is one of the best places to learn from one’s own mistakes
  22. All of us have weaknesses in the way we approach problems. Chess can help point out some of them, as we try to improve.

Teaching chess to young children

Special problems or “mini-games” have been devised to help children and new players to master basic ensemble movement of pawns and pieces, with each other.

These imaginative mini-games help learners to master important situations that may have taken them hundreds (or thousands) of games to learn otherwise.

Chess vs. Poker

It takes more time for a new chess player to become familiar with the range of possible openings, board positions, and endings than for a new poker player to learn the basic hands and strategies. Psychology is involved in chess, but not as much as in poker.

Remember that if you want to be invited back to play more games in the future, you must learn to win and lose graciously.

One cannot become a truly Dangerous Child without learning to master the tactics and strategy of whatever task one sets for oneself. Games such as chess and poker can help one to think in such terms automatically.

In the long run, the world won’t watch out for you. Best to learn to pay attention and to be prepared to deal with a wide range of situations.


Click to access Randolph-TeachingChesstheEasyFunWaywithMiniGames.pdf

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