6 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Chess


64 squares and 32 pieces – it was all that it took for me to learn some of the most priceless lessons on life. They say anything could just probably walk into your life and teach you some lessons that you will carry forward to eternity. For some it was humans in the form of relationships, money for a few, jobs and work for others, and books and experiences for the rest. But for me, it was the game of Chess. No institution, school or college has ever taught me things that I learnt from playing the game. Playing either alone or with an opponent, there have been innumerable epiphanies over matches and I made sure I wrote them down and interpreted them in a way that would help me evolve as a player and as a person.

Here, I’ve compiled six of the most life-changing revelations or rather life lessons that I stumbled upon during my games and I really felt I should share this with you.

1) Create Opportunities If You Don’t Have One:

In chess, it is foolish to wait for your opponent to make a mistake. In most cases, he or she would never would and would be reciprocating your thoughts and waiting for you to fumble. If you feel you can win a game of chess over your opponent’s error, you’ve already lost your game. That’s when I learnt I needed to create opportunities than wait for my opponent to make a mistake. You strategize and come up with a distinct algorithm in your mind that will make your opponent dance to your tune and fall into the opportunity you’ve created for him. In life too, you don’t wait for that perfect moment to show your potential because it may never come or arrive too late. You get down and create one and then let your skills do the talking. Appraisals, entrepreneurship, sports, and more, there’s no place this lesson won’t work!

2) See The Bigger Picture:

In chess, you always play with a purpose – or rather keeping a bigger picture in mind. No player plays to save every pawn that he or she moves or all of his knights and bishops. Players get them killed or sacrificed. The sacrifices made or not symptoms of downfall but stepping stones to victory. When I lose my queen, I don’t panic because I’ve lost major mobility and weightage. I am content and further assured that my plan’s working. Losing a queen would have been a trap to bait my opponent to something more deadlier. The truth is not everybody sees the bigger picture in life. Most of us are too scared to sacrifice little things that appear huge to bigger consequences that pass off as insignificant. We need to start seeing the bigger picture to actually start making sense out of your actions. If you feel you need to quit your job to venture into something you’ve been dying to, do it. Losing your job is a sacrifice for the bigger things you will fetch tomorrow. For an onlooker, it’s only quitting the job that he sees and not the bigger picture. He doesn’t have to either. It’s you, your step and your victory that counts. Go for it.

3) It’s Okay to be Threatened:

There can never be a seamless game of chess. A player gets down to the board knowing there will be losses and threats from any corner. But that’s the beauty of it. Imagine playing a seamless game without having to think too much, no challenges, no falls and no hindrances. Is it even a game? Wouldn’t life become monotonous and dull if we aren’t challenged time to time? Even our ECG readings have peaks and crests. That’s how it is. You will be constantly bombarded with threats and concerns that could steal your peace of mind for a while. That’s okay. Only that will bring out the better person in you. When under pressure, the human mind unleashes a potential that is unparalleled. Most people don’t just realize this ever. It’s okay to be jobless or broke or go through pain, it’s how you respond and not react to what you’re going through that makes you better.

4) I am My Own:

I have 16 warriors with me but in the end, I am my own. Over matches, I’ve learnt that the best company has been being able to be my own company. People come into our life only to leave and if you rest your happiness on them and become dependent, you will fall. Same happens when you become too much materialistic. During good times, it’s best to be surrounded by people you love and cherish but when crisis hits you, if you see nobody by your side, it’s nerve-wracking. That’s why I learnt that I will stand for myself just like the last piece of coin I have on board. I can use that and keep fighting for victory or lose with dignity. Have allies but fight your own battles.

5) Failures are Your Biggest Teachers:

Seems clichéd? That’s the truth but unfortunately, most of us don’t want to fail in the first place. You can get everything right on your first attempt. Also people are not paying attention to what you’re doing in life and you don’t have to burden yourself with assumptions on their perceptions on you. People are nosy and get entertained from your suffering. So, don’t let societal pressure pull you down. You need to learn the patterns to succeed. In fact, you learn more when you fail. Some of my worst matches have been the best grounds for learning. I don’t regret failing. I regret not learning anything from my fails. If you’re failing, you’re almost there. You just have to win once!

6) Respect Your Queen and Good Things will Follow:


Chess has never been just a weekend game or an escape from boredom. It’s been a way of life. The things that you take away after a game are priceless and the best part is you’re not the same person after every game. I really hope more people start playing chess and invariably evolve. Would love to see such a world!