5 Chess Skills that Matter

Chess Stuff ive hoarded up over the years

Since a couple of years into studying Game Theory and reading up on Game Development, Ive taken a penchant for Chess , that intellectual wrangling we used to submit ourselves to as kids, trying to figure out how to outsmart our school mates on a 8*8 matrix of alternating black and white.

While i have seen an increased productivity in solving problems at work and even tackling societal challenges, Chess has also got me into some very interesting Technical and Intellectual Conversations at #coworking spots in Namma City.

5 Skills that playing Chess directly instills in you are -

1. Intellectual Stamina

With every blunder you make, its easy to quit and say the game is lost. Realizing your opponent is not strong enough to thwart even weak attacks, gives you the intellectual motivation to continue playing Chess even with a weak hand.

2. Foresight

We all know how GM Vishy and the other great players like Carlsen and Kasparov, think 10 -15 moves ahead especially on popular openings. In a similar way , when we take time to analyze consequences of our Chess moves, we tend to reason how our opponent will respond to our move , and what our counter-strategy must be. Foresight , like other skills , is one that grows with usage.

3. Memory Power.

Its easier to memorize games from start to finish (sequential memory) rather than random positions (positional memory).

You also realise that memory is largely photographic in nature, and also finite; the latter being the reason we tend to forget older games and older positions.

The best way to remember a game IMO is sequentially, and to create an experience out of every game in an idyllic setting, which the brain stores the context along with the actual game.

4. Prophylaxis

I always believe, and advice the next generation of engineers that i encounter, that in any technical genre , to get good at something you gotta invest 2–3 years to become an expert. Similarly to start understanding what is commonly known as positional chess, you need to invest 2–3 years of Chess Playing to figure out how non-linearity works on a chess board. Of course there are super brainy folks out there who need less time, but i am talking about folks like me who are blessed with the ‘standard’ amount of intelligence 😀

When you develop the ability to start thinking in a non-linear fashion, it has an amazing affect on your real world problem solving abilities too.

5. Strategic Planning

One thing that until the advent of Chess Engine Algorithms like Stockfish8 and AlphaZero, it was common knowledge that humans are better at Chess Strategy than machines. Even as a young upstart in the Chess world, you can challenge your computer’s Chess program to oustmart its ability to calculate value and compute Permutation through applying good strategy and using ‘out-of-the-book’ methods in opening and middle game.

Of course it goes without saying an individual can become a good strategist only when Skills 1 through 4 are already in his kitty.

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