How Chess Prepares Minds For The Complexities of the Real World


Garry Kasparov’s famous quote, “Chess is life in miniature. Chess is a struggle, chess battles”, comes to mind whenever we observe a glaring similarity between chess and the real world. The more we look, the more we see a new similarity, and this article highlights some of the key similarities between chess and the real world.

The Strategic Nature Of Chess

Chess is all about strategy. It is the ability to formulate a plan and even contingencies to help us achieve a goal. Like life, opponents will do all they can to prevent the player from reaching their goal, but in several instances, the player is successful. 

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Strategizing in chess

Chess has tactics that help nurture and actualize a strategy, and these tactics are highly dependent on specific factors that determine the efficiency of the tactic. Life works similarly, as we people make long-term plans in investments, family ties, environmental living conditions, etc. The plans are usually broken down into minor tactics like getting a job and saving to support investment, determining who and when to marry, and defining where they live to determine how they live.

Like chess, life’s strategies do not always go according to plan because the opposition, life itself, can force people to modify their plans slightly. Still, the person’s persistence will determine their chances of victory. You can learn chess online on a , buy a book, or hire a chess coach.

Decision Making Under Pressure

There are a lot of engagements that draw one’s urgent attention in everyday life. These engagements can range from catering to children, tending to work activities, giving attention to extended family or friends, being present for side hustles, maintaining a diet, consistently following through on upskilling or learning new skills, etc. 

The anxiety from juggling these activities and other miscellaneous engagements can lead to untold pressure that must be maneuvered through to maintain a high-quality life. We see a similar pattern in chess, where there is pressure to defend the king, protect unguarded pieces, maintain attacking potential, cover a loose/unprotected square, etc. 

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Chess players are better prepared to withstand pressure.

These motives often run simultaneously, so the pressure is evident, but the best players find their way through this pressure, which is a deciding quality on why they stand out. One way to ease pressure when making decisions is to identify each of these engagements and place them on a priority list. The most important ones are cleared first, and the least important ones are either done last or compromised altogether.

Focus is also needed to spend as little time as possible tending to the engagements we decide to tackle at a given time. 

Learning from Failure

Chess teaches us that authentic learning without failure is impossible. Jose Raul Casablanca expresses this idea with his famous quote, “You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win. You will have to lose hundreds of games before .” 

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Garry Kasparov, who has endured thousands of losses, is still regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Image:

Players draw relief and added motivation from this quote because losing in chess is inevitable. If losses are not handled and channelled correctly, they might spiral, leading to more losses, a dip in confidence, and a worsening situation.

As players with some experience, we have learned from experiencing Scholar’s Mate and other checkmate sequences; we have learned to avoid grand forks; we have learned to fork pieces or force forks when we see an opportunity and several different patterns. Without failure, we never would have had this knowledge ingrained in our consciousness when we play. 

Similarly, the experience of failure or disappointment, when applied to life, helps us gain critical knowledge in our consciousness, like creating budgets and efficient financial management, time management, careful maneuvering on or avoiding slippery surfaces, avoiding highly spicy foods, avoiding bare contact with fire, and so on. Summarily, failure helps improve our instincts and habits.

Chess as a Metaphor for Life

When we first encounter chess, our minds are fixed on how to win a game. However, as we play and lose, learning more about the game, we see that chess is a simplified version of life itself, and from this revelation, we become fixed on the philosophy of chess.

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Chess prepares us for life.

Some of these philosophies, we have already explained. Still, with further emphasis on focus, Harvard Gazette expresses the need for people to play chess to boost focus and combat declining mental health and cognition. In the same vein, the National Institutes of Health used chess apps as treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, teaching them how to regain the consciousness needed to maneuver everyday life.

Another critical point to note about chess in life is understanding our network and the consciousness to maintain and harmonize them for the best results for us and them. We can take these networks as pieces on a chessboard.

Final Thoughts

To get the best out of chess for the sake of life, we must put deliberate effort into learning about chess in addition to playing. is a rich resource that provides value for players of all levels.

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