10 Things You Can Learn About Life From Chess


Chess, the game of kings. Fortunately, chess is available to everyone in a variety of formats. But this article isn’t about improving your play over the board. It’s about the invaluable lessons that can be learned from the game of chess. 

Even if you’ve never played, you can still benefit from the wisdom provided by chess. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to take up the game. 

Consider these important lessons that chess can teach you about life:

1. There’s always an opportunity if you look hard enough. No matter how bad your position looks on the chessboard, there’s almost always a simple solution. 

  • Take the time in your life to look for the best opportunities and take full advantage of them. 

2. Be willing to sacrifice for something better. The queen sacrifice in chess is a classic move. It seems counterintuitive that giving up your most valuable piece can sometimes be your smartest move. 

  • What are you willing to give up in order to be successful in life? 

3. You have to focus your attention if you want to win. Chess requires a tremendous amount of mental energy and focus. You can’t win without it. 

  • How focused are you in your life? Do you have goals? Goals are an excellent way to focus your attention on the things that matter. 

4. Sometimes, simplifying is the smartest move you can make. There are times in chess when it’s advantageous to trade pieces with your opponent to clear the clutter off the board and simplify the position. 

  • Simplifying your life can be a powerful strategy to achieving greater levels of contentment and success. 

5. The big picture matters. It’s easy to get caught up in small skirmishes on the chessboard and lose sight of the overall strategy of the game. 

  • Avoid silly conflicts at work. Focus on what’s best for your career instead. 
  • Why argue about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher? Do what’s best for your relationship. 

6. Failure can be the best teacher. The chess games you lose can teach you more than the games you win. 

  • Failure is a great teacher in life, too. 

7. You can always start a new game. Losing a game of chess doesn’t prevent you from playing again. 

  • In life, failure isn’t final. You can always hit reset and try again, and again, and again. 

8. It’s all about the decisions you make. The difference between playing poor, good, and world-class chess is the quality of the choices you make. 

  • The quality of your decisions in life is just as important. Most of your challenges are due to a couple of poor decisions. 

9. It helps to have a plan. Great chess players create a plan based on the distribution of pieces on the board. Then, they execute that plan as well as possible. 

  • Do you have a plan for your life? If not, how do you expect to experience a positive result? 

10. Sometimes you have to back up in order to gain ground. You can’t just move the pieces forward 100% of the time. There’s a time to back up and then make your move when the time is right. 

  • You can’t push forward in life 100% of the time. There’s a time and a place for retreat, consolidation, and then making progress again. 

There are many similarities between chess and life. Unless you’re playing a real pro, there’s always hope in chess. The game can turn on a single move by either player. 

Likewise, you only have to make one good decision in life to overcome very negative circumstances. Have a plan for your life. Stay flexible. Look for opportunities, and don’t be afraid to take a step back to make long-term progress. 

Play some chess. It’s good for your brain and can enhance your strategy for dealing with life. 

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