Mental health Self-growth

The game of life: Chessboard

The biggest chessboard in life for us to play is to play chess against ourselves. All of the competitions out there are merely performances for improvement and entertainment. Nevertheless, We still need to deal with others over the course of this lifetime but we can and should play strategically to enjoy the fun.


The plus side is, you don’t need to be good at chess to play this game, though skillfulness in chess certainly helps in different aspects of one.

The difference between playing chess on board with your friends near the warm hearth and playing it in this reality is that you become the chess pieces concurrently. Regardless of your capacity and job titles, a flight attendant, waitress or the principal of a school, the president of a country, or the queen of England, you’re the same as everybody else in dealing with things and will need to keep on changing the tactical formation in different measures. Try to think of everything as dynamic with colors and has its own frequency for the rest of texts you will be reading.

The cores of tactical formation:

Let’s suppose you’re entering to an AI conference that you know no one about except the organiser. As you don’t know what might happen besides the topic, should you be quiet and listen and observe the dynamics of energy moving. In chess, the first few moves typically are to set up your foundations as well as looking out the opponent’s motives and doing. Although nothing is certain and rules can be broken, first to adapt the situation until you feel comfortable before launching the attack is the safest way to do.

There are several ways to apply ‘Be’ and are based on the essential elements you already have – Being yourself, being in the moment, and be confident. Going back to the example of the conference room, after you’ve adapted the situation, you can choose to be among one of the dots there as the audience throughout the agenda, like ‘still’, but you’re still moving in its own motion.

Likewise, there will be non-attack or non-defense moments in chess. Though the alertness is still there, the troops’ deployment and strategy thinking need time and ’being still’ to evolve. There will be no strategy available if you never start the game or not being still allowing yourself to think. Contrary to many beliefs, ‘Being still’ isn’t what it means physically sitting in one place and trying to think. Being still means you’re still active in whatever you’re doing but your mind is calm like water so you can come up with better ideas, strategies.


Says you want to express your opinions in the room. You raise your hand, stand up and speak. This is a change as you’re intervening the overall dynamic, with your own dynamic. As long as you believe in yourself, your reasonings, and being able articulate the ideas, nice, short and effective, the rest will up to the individual dynamics to decide whether they would change to become your dynamic so the overall dynamic will change its color to favor you as a result.

On a chessboard, only the action of attack or defense will change the overall course. By knowing this, you should dare to make bold moves after considering it. Chess pieces are there for you to use them.

These cores of dynamic changing should be used interchangeably depending on the circumstances. Nothing is static when it’s in dynamic form.

There are four ways we need to know before starting any chess challenge in life:
– knowing the functionality of the game and your pieces.
– Knowing how to visualise a chessboard.
– Avoid unnecessary conflicts whenever you can.
– Make peace and show respect.

Knowing the functionality of the game and your pieces
Castles are good at going inside out in safeguarding the king, Knights are better at controlling the center where pawns have been accompanied by, and the queen is powerful but does need protection from time to time because bishops could potentially sneak in and kill her with the help of other pieces by the opponent. Therefore, not only you need to know the rules of chess, but also the functionality of each piece to execute efficiently. To put it in a real-world perspective,

from asking – what is an economy? What taxes should I be paying or avoiding? What impacts do industries have on us? Why a nation has the right to make policies for us? Things I shouldn’t do so I don’t go to jail? – to – what services, products I can offer? What are my characteristics? How my impacts affect others?

You will see more clearly about yourself, your value, your ability while matching with the trend of this world that’s ongoing.

Knowing how to visualise a chessboard
Let’s suppose you’re the queen of England right now. There is an affair you need to deal with in the family so you go to see your husband with the evidence hiding under your sleeve. You won’t talk to your husband as you give orders to the staff of the house, instead, you take on different roles of the chess pieces to probe him and ultimately, you want to checkmate. First, you ask for his presence at certain times and places, like a pawn, laying out the appropriate formation. Then you pressure him by adding the emotions to trigger responses, like a bishop. Switching back and forth between the bishop, rook, knight, king, pawn and the queen, to get the information you need. This is one way for you to think of a situation chesstically.

Things are simple, what makes them complex is the conflict of interests of ones. After dealing with your husband, how can you explain it to your children? House of commons? And the public? Many chessboards lay ahead on the bumpy road.


Whatever the situation you’re in, there will always be a way out. Don’t take the game too seriously because it’s just a game and there are many many chessboards for you to deal with. Being able to visualise a chessboard makes you think differently, creatively in finding a solution, so you don’t get bored or stuck at one corner. The chessboard is just a concept for you to see this world from another perspective.

Avoid unnecessary conflicts whenever you can
If there is not your war, don’t fight. You don’t have to. Letting it go and save up your energy for better use is a way to go. For instance, back in the conference room, if you don’t want to change public opinions, or there is not up to your position to speak, that’s fine. Let it be. Save the energy for your projects, families, friends, goals, etc. Some sacrifices need to make sometimes in avoiding conflicts, but it’s understandable and for the better, clear path you’re going. Sacrifice those we don’t need is one of the lessons we’re all learning.

In chess, there are times you need to tit-for-tat, through sacrificing for the glorious future. So you would trade enemy pawns, knights or else but you might not see the deployment of your opponent who has been waiting for you to take the bite. You might run into a deadly attack a few rounds later. There are times you just let fishes pass by so you don’t weaken your structure and being ready for the missile launchings.

Make peace and show respect
After all, chess is a fun game to play. Many are being too competitive and missing to see the bigger picture. The person who is willing to play with you, is temporary. He or she will disappear one day, and so are you. After winning a game but losing a friend, a companion, then what? Nothing really matters. Even he or she is your competitor in the business world. It was all the time you’re chessing with your own reality. Winning is good, but losing also makes things great. Make peace, show respect and spare love while we all happen to live in this point of time, will be the best new year gift you’ve ever given to yourself because chess is just an illusion to reflect the troubled of our minds.



Photos by Jukan Tateisi, Denise Jans, Chrstina Gottardi, Graham Ruttan from Unsplash

I grew up with playing Chinese chess, only later I’ve learnt other board games like Go, chess, scrabble and the rest. All board games are awesome. If you have never played Chinese chess I highly encourage you to give it a try, it’s super fun and does improve one’s thinking! 

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