Life is Like a Game of Chess

When I was just a young boy, I learned how to play the game of chess. Since then, I have always enjoyed sitting down to play a good game of chess, even though I have never become what I would consider to be a really good chess player. I know the basic moves of the chess pieces, and a few elements of chess game strategy, but I have never forced myself to become a true blue student of the game. To become a great chess player requires dedicated study of chess strategy, and an acquired knowledge of how to best utilize your chess pieces in order to gain an advantage over your opponent. With many board games such as Monopoly, Sorry, Parcheesi, or any of the other “roll the dice” board games, luck plays a big part in whether you win or lose. In contrast, consistent winning in the game of chess is almost entirely dependent upon skillful use of the chess pieces, and strategy and wisdom in the moves that are made is what leads to winning. In the game of chess, luck is rarely if ever a factor.

When I think of what being a winner in the game of chess requires, I can easily compare it to the requirements to be successful in life. For those of you who have learned the game of chess and played it at some time in your life, you will be able to better relate to some of the thoughts I am about to share. Even if you are someone who has never learned the game of chess, you will still benefit from some of the thoughts about the game, and how the game relates to life.

I think one of the reasons so many people avoid the game of chess and never learn how to play it is because they have this assumption that it is too complicated, and too difficult to learn. Learning how to play the game of chess is neither complicated nor difficult. Becoming a very good chess player is what is difficult. It requires study of the game, and determination to learn the tactics and strategies that lead to consistent winning. Depending on luck will not make you a better chess player, because as I said, luck is almost never a factor in chess. Life is much like the game of chess. To be successful and a winner in the game of life, a person cannot depend on luck. Success in life requires determination to learn the skills and strategies that are necessary to live a successful life. Most of the skills and strategies that must be learned in the game of life involve how we deal and interact with others, the attitudes that we embrace regarding the challenges we face, and how we make use of what God has given us. In essence, it is wisdom that makes us successful in life, not luck.

I have never truly made an effort to be a serious, dedicated student of the game of chess. I know how to play, and I enjoy playing very much. Do I consider myself a very skillful player? I would have to answer that question with a no. Think of the chess board as representing life. I’ve learned the basics of the game of chess, but I’ve never done what is necessary to become a top notch player. Many people approach life in the same way I have approached the game of chess. Everyone knows the game of life; we play it every day. Unfortunately, many never make the effort to learn the vital strategies and tactics of dealing with others and the world around us that are needed in order to experience success in life. Much like the game of chess, a successful life is less dependent on luck, and more dependent on knowledge of how to make best use of our God given “chess pieces.”

In the game of chess, both players start with the same number and types of pieces, so both players have the same potential to secure victory in the game. I would like to compare the pieces that a player has to work with in the game of chess to personal strengths, abilities, and faith that they have in life. How wisely and skillfully a person uses their God given “chess pieces”, is what will make the difference between victory and defeat in life. Whether you know it or not, EVERY person has strengths, EVERY person has abilities, and yes….EVERY person has faith. In the Bible in Romans 12:3, we are told that God gives to every man THE measure of faith! If you read that scripture, you will notice it is worded “THE measure of faith.” God gives every man the same measure or ability to believe in him. How we use that measure, or that “chess piece” if you will… is up to us.

Another similarity that successful chess play has to a successful life is found in the time taken between moves of the pieces. When a skilled chess player plays the game, he does not make any moves suddenly or that lack planning and forethought. Tournament chess games actually have time limits on moves to help maintain the flow of the game, but in basic, friendly, everyday chess matches, moves can take a long time as players very carefully analyze their situation, and their possible choices of moves. Every move the player makes is calculated and the possible side effects of that move are taken into account. In the game of life, too often people make decisions about the use of their chess pieces too quickly, and do not take the time to consider what consequences their moves may bring about. Every decision that we will ever make about how we utilize our life’s “chess pieces” will either bring about a good result, or it will bring about a negative result. To a large degree, the results of our moves are related to how much thought we put into the move or decision we are making. Just as in life, one bad move of a chess piece can negatively alter the entire outcome of the game.

Lastly, in the game of chess, a player quickly learns that they have to make sacrifices of some of their pieces during the course of the game in order to arrive at the desired goal, which of course is winning the game. Some of the pieces that are of less importance have to be let go of in order to achieve victory. The lesser pieces make their contributions toward the victory during the game, but in the end, it is the most important pieces that capture the victory. In life, we have to make sacrifices, and decide what areas of our lives are of less importance, and we often find that we have to sacrifice some things in order to win the game, Sometimes in life, the thing that is standing in the way of our victory is the piece of our life that we need to eliminate from our game. Quite often, in the game of chess, at the end of the game there are very few pieces left on the board. All the unnecessary pieces have been sacrificed, and all that remains is what is needed to achieve victory. In life, sometimes we need to sacrifice, and strip away all the unnecessary pieces of our life, and only keep those pieces that are absolutely vital to winning. If you were to ask me what those vital pieces are, I would tell you they are a desire to help others, and a firm trust in God. As long as you have those pieces near the end of your game, you will be a winner in the game of life.

Take some time and learn the game of chess! It’s really a great game!

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Mark