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How to Become a World Level Strategist by Playing One Board Game

Updated on December 27, 2019
Delores Keeper profile image

Delores Keeper has been playing chess for over 50 years. In that time she has learned a lot of real-life lessons from the game.


King, queen, rooks, knights, bishops, and pawns are terms you will learn as you play the game of chess. Similar to a fantasy military European war game, chess can be thrilling. Each piece has different moves which determine their influence and importance in the game. The weakest piece being the pawn and the strongest being the queen. The goal is to put your opponent in “checkmate” (placing the opponent’s king in an inescapable position).

So, what exactly is chess?

Chess is a two-player board game. Each player has 16 pieces: one queen, one king, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, and eight pawns. It is believed that chess is derived from an ancient game played in India called Chaturanga. Playing the game involves moving your pieces to gain a better position, and arranging sequences of moves that will allow you to capture your opponent's pieces without risk to your own. Winning chess is a matter of outthinking your opponent and achieving a better position or superiority of pieces so that the king becomes vulnerable. A game of chess usually takes 20 to 40 moves and ends when one player resigns or runs out of time, or a draw is declared.


Strategy in chess

Strategy in chess involves goal setting, evaluation of the piece positions, and planning for the long-term.

Goal setting

The first thing to do while playing chess is to set goals such as;

  • To win
  • To win in a fixed period
  • To succeed in a set number of moves
  • To not use certain pieces unless when necessary

Having goals and strategizing helps you to make important decisions while playing. This skill translates well into your day-to-day life. Goal setting focuses your attention on every move and enables you to make rational purposeful decisions. In business, having goals gives you the ability to create mission statements and a vision to run your business effectively. In life, having goals gives you a purpose and a feeling of self-worth.

Evaluation of position

Some of the factors that need to be considered when playing chess are;

  • Pawn structure
  • The value of each piece of the board
  • King safety
  • Key square control
  • Square groupings (open files, diagonals and also individual squares)
  • Position of your pieces

Pawn structure deserves special mention here because the value is often overlooked or minimized by players. The key to pawn structure is to understand which pawn to move and when, because in chess the pawns are unique in that, once a pawn is moved, it cannot be moved back. Every other piece can retreat from a tactically unsound position, not so with pawns. These are decisions that cannot be undone, and becoming adept at this aspect of chess can help you to learn to identify these types of decisions in life and business.

The strategies in chess relate well to our everyday lives. You can learn to asses risk, avoid risk, and know how to deal with risks that do come up. You learn to adapt to changing circumstances and plan to minimize your vulnerability. Learning this strategic thinking teaches you to identify your strengths and weaknesses in life as well as business.

Knowing your position is the whole idea in the strategy that you learn through chess. Once you know your position (where you stand with regards to other ‘players’), other factors like where to move next or what to avoid will come naturally.

Examples of large organizations that employ this type of strategic thinking are New-tech companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. Due to the position evaluation strategy, these organizations have had rapid growth, which has made them immensely valuable and ubiquitous in our society. They have learned to strategize appropriately by knowing their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and setting their goals accordingly to minimize their weaknesses and maximize their strengths.

Planning for the long term

Last, but definitely not least, chess teaches you to plan for long term goals.

Planning and achieving long-term goals is necessary to do well in chess. It takes planning with an awareness of your resources to move your different pieces into tactically sound positions without opening yourself up to attack. A chess game may last only 20 to 40 moves, but during those moves you will consider hundreds of alternatives. Sometimes a quick advantage may lead to ruin, so you will learn to look to the long term in your decisions to be successful.

So, why not start playing chess, and open your brain to the vast possibilities of developing the skill of strategic thing. Play this one game, and in time, you will be a world-class strategist.


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