Benjamin Franklin: The Morals of Chess (explained) Part -2


A person's outlook towards life interprets a great deal about him/her. While people chase over materialistic things to make life easy, Benjamin Frankin was one such curious soul who was dedicated to make life simpler for others, through his inventions and discoveries. The Pennsylvania Stover and the Lightning Rod are examples of him being a naturally inquisitive individual who spreads happiness among people by transforming nature from being destructive to constructive. His eagerness to know things introduced him to the world of chess and its virtues. So, we would discuss, what is the second virtue of chess according to Benjamin Franklin's 'The Morals of Chess'?


"which surveys the whole chess-board, or scene of action, the relations of the several pieces and situations, the dangers they are respectively exposed to, the several possibilities of their aiding each other; the probabilities that the adversary may make this or that move, and attack this or the other piece; and what different means can be used to avoid his stroke, or turn its consequences against him."

Circumspection is a quality of acknowledging a wide variety of circumstances or situations into account and act accordingly. We often come across people who advises others to look at the bigger picture or the complete picture rather than investing time on trivial things. According to Benjamin Franklin, in chess, a person needs to be aware of his/her surroundings. It is a game that relies on possibilities and probabilities. He justifies the fact by relating this virtue to the daily life of people, where people must always be prepared to face varied situations. Life is just like a battlefield and people should know how to defend themselves by improving each move.

The difference between a regular and an amateur chess player is his ability to circumspect. A regular chess player will always consider his position, surroundings, possibilities of attack or defend before making a move, on the contrary, an amateur player will focus on his present objective, eventually compromising his situation that may be a trick or a trap. Franklin asks people to continue looking forward towards one's goal but keep an eye on the past. His retrospective nature helped him to be the person he is. People should always analyse situations prior to making a move.

A quick glance at the textbooks

Remember Newton's Third Law of Motion? Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Similarly, every situation that occurs to an individual is linked to their actions. So, it's practical to browse the situation and surroundings in and around you while playing chess or in the course of life, to avoid making mistakes. Hawkeye and street-smartness are required to be the master of any game.

It is his principles and virtues that have laid down the Constitution of the United States of America which stands still as a Superpower for the rest of the world. His perseverance, strong views and opinions narrate the story of him being a jewel to the crown of not just America but the entire world.