Chess: The Thinkers Game

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Check Mate is every chess players favourite phrase if you are the one saying it . It is the end result of pure concentration, focus and strategy on what is the best game in the world. Why do you think it is still taught in schools and why do you think there are so many chess clubs? Computer games have soared in the last 10 years but you never hear of a Star Wars or Matrix club which play against each other. Teachers don't teach you to play computer games at school, or maybe they do but I am too old to have heard about it. Chess however, is a different matter. Why chess? Because once you learn to play chess and how a chess strategy works it teaches you how to think in life. It is a game of two minds. Yours against your opponent's. There is no luck involved. If you make a mistake then it is your fault. You have not thought your chess strategy all the way through and this is the whole point of chess. Whoever thinks the deepest; whoever can take their chess strategy through to the highest level wins the game.

This is something which children and adults alike should aspire to. Thinking a problem out logically. Leaving no stone unturned. I learned to play chess some 40 years ago and the problem solving techniques I have used in chess have never left me. I recently had an interview and was told later by the interviewer I had blown the other candidates out the water with my presentation. Before the interview I covered every possible question the interviewer could ask and was ready with my well rehearsed answers. Moreover, I had created flow charts to show how I would improve the way the department was run. I produced graphs at every turn to back up my plans. I waited to near the end of the interview the came out with all guns blazing with "and here is my idea to save money in the department." Come on admit it, you would have employed me wouldn't you? All this from playing chess and learning chess strategy and tactics.

If I was to teach a new player how to play chess I would introduce him to Paul Morphy. If he or she was not inspired by this genius of the chess world then nothing would. Morphy was studying to be a lawyer and played chess in his spare time. He took the world of chess by storm. His chess tactics were second to none at the time. Although he died many moons ago his legacy lives on and every good chess book will examine the chess strategies of Paul Morphy. That said, you do not have to be a genious to play chess. Remember it is a game, but the more you play the better your grasp of chess strategies will become. Automatically the way you think about problems, during the course of your life, will change. When I play chess I can anticipate the next 3 to 4 moves my opponent is going to make, sometimes more. I use this tactic a lot during my work and during leisure.

I love to tell stories to my colleagues during a boring spell at work and one of the ones I use needs a certain response from at least one of the listeners. It goes: I was woken up at 4 in the morning when I heard a noise in my garden. I got up and looked out and to my astonishment there was a man with a screwdriver removing my gate from the garden. I watched this for half an hour and saw him put the gate in his van and drive off. I the wait for the reaction. There is always a silence but you cannot speak, just wait. "Did you not do anything" someone will ask. " Did you not shout at him" I reply. I was scared in case he took a fence (offence). Alright I know it is corny but the point is it works because it has been thought out to the nth degree. Somewhere in the world of chess there is a chess strategy or strategies which will mimic this. A chess strategy or trap which will need patience and nerve to hold out until your opponent makes that fatal move.

Even if you have learned all the best principles of playing a good chess game and you have used a strong chess strategy you may find you are still getting beat. This is most likely because you have not learned yet to think outside the box. Once you can do this your opponent will never know what you are planning and you will start to win even more games. When I was at school I noticed my dinner school ticket was peeling apart . I had an idea. The next day at dinner school I showed only the back of the dinner ticket. It was accepted. I proceeded to peel the two halves apart and then glued each half to a thin piece of card. I sold the front part to a friend for half the price of the dinner ticket and we both got our school dinners half price and we kept half the money. Highly unethical I know but hey I was a schoolboy. Once you can think outside the box at chess you can think outside the box in real life.

Get you kids to start playing chess. It is the best game in the world and one of your proudest moments will be when he or she finally outhinks you on the chess board and screams "Check mate".

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