Chess is Life: The Pawns

Pawns are family.  Pawns are your friends.  Okay, that sounds bizarre, but for my purposes, let’s hold it to be true.  Let me explain. 

In the beginning of life, we are extremely dependent on our family (and perhaps some friends) to take care of us.  The same goes for chess.  If you were to play a chess game without your pawns (against a reasonable opponent), you’d surely lose.  All of your pawns are very close to your king in the starting position of the game, providing safety.  Just as your pawns are close, your family and friends must be very close to you early in life to nurture you.  As the game progresses, some pawns will leave their starting rank, making the king more independent and allow for pieces to develop.  Same is true for life.  Family will “leave” you to make you more independent.  Walking, eating, potty training: all things that involve people “leaving” you. At some point the baby has to have time on the ground to learn how to crawl and stop wearing diapers to learn to use the toilet. 

In the early stages of the middle game, only a few pawns are really close to you (after a player has castled).  I think these pawns can have many different interpreations.  For this post, I’ll say that the pawns that are close to the king in the middle game represent friends one has during adolescence.  In chess the pawns in a castled position hide the king in the corner so that there are less attack avenues toward the king.  In my interpretation, this mirrors adolescents “hiding” behind the personalities of their friends to make them less vulnerable.  For example, it is very common for adolescents to try and fit in with a personalities they may not actually be in line with their own true personality.  Adolescents can use these cliques to disguise who they really are until they discover it themselves (aspects that relate to the endgame).

(A quick clip of the rules of castling:

In the endgame of chess, the pawns advance farther from their starting positions getting closer and closer to becoming one of the pieces.  Also, it is very likely that you will not have all the pawns you started with in the endgame.  This can represent friends moving away or the unfortunate losses of loved ones.  In the endgame, however, the king must protect his pawns.  A quote from one of the greats demonstrates this point. 

It cannot be too greatly emphasized that the most important role in pawn endings is played by the king.  –  Siegbert Tarrasch

Later in life, a person generally assists fellow friends and family much more than they did when they were children.  Using a very specific example (which will not hold true for everybody obviously), people are generally expected to care for their parents as they age (move further away).  As in chess, a king must protect the pawns as they move farther down the board.  As these pawns reach the last rank (equivalent to losing a parent), they become a piece.  In other words as a person cares for their aging parents and their parents eventually pass, there is a strong realization of how much the parents played a role in the person’s life.  The pawn is now a piece just as the external loss of a parent can be internalized by people understanding how their parents are a part of them or has affected them.

For now that is all I have. Hope you enjoy!



Chess is Life: The Pieces

In chess, the word “pieces” refers to the major pieces (queen and rooks) and the minor pieces (bishops and knights).  In my chess-is-life analogy, I think one interpretation of these pieces could be that they are one’s skills and talents.  The major pieces are things that you’re very good at and may even work towards your career while the minor pieces represent other talents that you have that may not necessarily stand out such as your main skills. 

In my first post, I explained how you are the king and your pawns represent your friends and family in life.  Although all of these pieces and life metaphors are strongly interconnected, this post will focus on how the pieces can be interpreted as skills and talents. 

WARNING: My thoughts on this aren’t fully formulated yet so I apologize if the post seems scattered with different ideas. Hope you can follow along!

Early in a chess game, your pieces are dormant.  As a chess game progresses though, these pieces begin to develop and show how helpful they can be.  Your pawns, however, must support these pieces otherwise they will be restricted or misguided.  If not properly developed, these pieces may interfere with each other and hinder other pieces from reaching their full potential.  Also, if these pieces are misguided, they will be used for the wrong reasons.

Now reread the previous five sentences changing the words “a chess game” to “life”, the word  “pieces” to “skills” and/or “talents”, and the word “pawns” to “family”.  See how chess and life are practically the same!?! :O 

Pawn placement in a chess game affects how the pieces are developed just as family and friends can affect the development of people’s skills and abilities.  As mentioned earlier, different pieces can hold other pieces back.  For example, knights commonly block bishops’ diagonals in fianchetto positions.  In life, different talents can conflict with each other too (an example being someone who is adept at organization and structure may have trouble tapping into their creative side).

Also, there are times in chess when a player spends too much time moving one piece (i.e. a person spending too much time dwelling on one skill).  Although this has the possiblity of being a good choice in the game, it is usually better to develop all of your pieces.  As in life, one must decide on how they will invest in their talents, but I do believe it helps to be well-rounded as well.  When I was eleven, I was positive I was going to be either in the NBA or in And 1 Streetball.  Now, I can barely make a free throw.  In other words, I abandoned my basketball fantasies to develop other skills that are probably more important. 

Another point I think is important is how the pawns affect your pieces.  In chess the opening phases of the game (equivalent to early childhood development) are crucial to how the rest of the game will pan out.  If the pawns are positioned poorly, then they will limit the usefullness of your pieces.  In life, sometimes people are born with friends and family that may not be the best role models and can cause people to use their talents toward the wrong reasons.  This idea however falls under another category of chess that I want to elaborate more depth later so I’ll just end it there.

Pieces are skills and both need to be nurtured correctly to be successful.


The starting position of a chess game

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Chess is Life: The King

As avid chess players probably already know, the title of this blog post uses one of Bobby Fischer’s most famous chess quotes.  When I learned of this quote back in high school, I began thinking about how chess and life are really related.  I’m going to use this blog to share my thoughts on how chess is an allegory for life.  Also, I know every chess game is unique, but any analogies I use will be from common patterns of games played by stronger players.  I’ll try to use common terminology, but some ideas might only be understandable to the more serious players (Sorry! I did post a link to a chess glossary just in case)

Here was one perspective I came up with regarding the meaning of the pieces.

You are the king.  Your minor and major pieces are your skills and talents (the queen and rooks being your strongest talents).  The pawns in the game represent your friends and family in life.  Although all of these pieces and life metaphors are strongly interconnected, I will focus on the king’s metaphor for this first post due to length. 

In the beginning of a chess game, the king begins in the center of the back row.  This placement can refer to you being the center of attention because of your birth as well as meaning that your personality is out in the open (as opposed to being shaped by life experiences/moves made in the game and having your personality “castled in a corner” so to speak). 

Another insight is that the king is sheltered by pawns in the opening and the middle game as a child and young adult would be protected by friends and family.  By the endgame, however, the king becomes a crucial, independent piece that has much more influence on the game.  This point directly relates to a child growing into adulthood in which the person would have more control over their life and be more independent.  Although the king may have been sheltered and hidden by pawns in the opening and middle game, the king is free to come out into the open and exert more control in the endgame.  This point reflects how a person in adulthood grows to become more and more comfortable with themselves and is more comfortable showing who they really are. 

Well I hope this post was somewhat insightful.  I plan on posting more about the metaphors of the other pieces soon this week.  I’ll also have other random thoughts on how I see chess and life are related.  If you have any thoughts you’d like to share please comment!!


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