The Gentleman’s Times – Life Is Chess

Is chess just a silly board game for old people?  Or can it teach you strategies for a successful life?

I often encourage young men to learn to play chess – and there are some very specific reasons for doing so.

While playing chess, you’re forced to think at least three moves ahead of your opponent.  Anticipating their next move, your countermove, then their countermove teaches the ability to expect the unexpected – and prepare for it.  That job you were counting on didn’t come through?  That’s okay.  You expected that move.  That’s why you’ve already got two or three others lined up.  Your paycheck fell short of expectations?  That’s okay.  You expected that move.  That’s why you’ve got two months’ salary in your savings account.

Chess also teaches a young man to be skeptical about assuming the intentions of others.  In chess, your opponent may take a pawn with another pawn just to distract you from their real target – your queen.  Your flirty crush ended up going on a date with your best friend?  That’s okay.  You saw her intended target weeks ago – that’s why you’ve been oversharing some of her major flaws with him.  Your boss moved you laterally within the company to a department he knew you didn’t like?  That’s okay.  You knew the intended target was to get you out the door.  That’s why you sent a resume to your company’s main competitor who is desperate for inside dirt on their rival.

Believe it or not, chess can help you better understand Traditional Gender Role relationships, too.  You see, in chess, the king can move in any direction – but only one square at a time.  The queen, however, can move in any direction, any distance she wants.  This teaches young men that – as the king in a Traditional Gender Role relationship – there is only so much he can do to influence others.  And when his options are limited, he’s confident that his queen has the charm, grace, and femininity to influence those he cannot.

When I was young, if I wanted to play a challenging game of chess, I was able to play against my father.  But if he didn’t want to play, I had to travel across town to the local chess club – if it was open – to play a decent game.  Now, young men can simply pull out their phones and play chess on thousands of different skill levels – from absolute novice to Grandmaster.

And while reading blogs about Traditional Gender Roles and life in general might provide young men with a few memorable quotes on how to handle situations that may arise in life, chess teaches strategies, tactics, alternate and critical thinking, anticipation of action, how to avoid red herrings, and so much more.

Blogs are fine.  But nothing will teach a young man more about the game of life than chess.  And after he’s been playing for several years, he will discover an incredible truth:

Life is chess.  And if he has mastered the chessboard, he will master life itself.


Life Is Chess.  The Gentleman’s Times, April 24, 2019.  Copyright © April 24, 2019 by Vintage In Stepford, All Rights Reserved.

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