A friend of mine plays chess. Very well. In fact, back in the day when they were both members of the same chess club, he would defeat now-reigning world champion V.Anand.

We were playing a ‘friendly’ game last weekend. I lasted nearly fifteen minutes, before being check-mated.

Then, I told him two things.

1. In heart surgery, we prepare the patient for surgery by cleaning and draping the chest, then making an incision to access the heart. Next, we support the circulation by hooking up the patient to a heart-and-lung machine. Finally comes the actual repair.

Anyone can handle the first stage, even a trainee medical student. The next phase isn’t too complicated, and most residents can manage it comfortably with three months of training. The repair is what takes a few decades to master.

2. Amazon.com launched in 1995. That was the year I first started an online business. By 2000, the retail giant was reporting a LOSS of millions of dollars a year, when my activities were pulling in $20,000 or more.

Fast forward a decade, and one company is doing BILLIONS of dollars in sales while the other is still close to where it used to be (no prizes for guessing which is which!)

My point?

The beginning and middle games are easier. Faster. Almost anyone can learn them, even master them.

A full-time heart surgeon can play chess well enough to hold someone with an ELO rating of 2000+ for 20 moves, or temporarily out-perform an online business behemoth in profitability. And even a trainee can put a heart patient on bypass.

The end game isn’t quite as easy.

That’s why it really matters.

The rest of the game? Not so much!