Win More Games in Chess and Life: Practical Lessons from the Art of War

Recently, I discovered Lichess, an online platform that allows you to play with other people and so far, I’ve learnt two things.

One, you really can’t say you play chess until you play consistently with other people.

Two, the first chapter of Sun Tzu says a lot more than anyone might have thought about tactical arrangements in chess.

War and Chess are similar in more ways than one. In fact, you can almost say that chess is war in its own right with you trying to conquer all your opponent’s soldiers and mate your their king.

Initially, on the platform, I suffered massive defeats but since reading the Art of War, my gameplay has improved. I win more games because now, I have more understanding of the psychologies of the game.

What lessons did I pick from Sun Tzu’s the Art of War and how do they apply to chess? Let’s find out!

“All warfare is based on deception”

Chess is not a direct game like some other board games. I used to make moves without really thinking of both the offensive and defensive implications of it. They were direct and reflected my linear thought process. But well, chess requires a lot more thinking and calculations than ‘1+1 = 2’s.

I have come to discover that the first move is almost always a feint. And this reinforces Sun Tzu’s tactical stand.

So now, when I move, I’m always thinking in advance what my next move or two would be. Indeed, all warfare is based on deception.

This is one of my favorite. It tells you that sometimes, inactivity does not always mean dormancy. Because you don’t take your opponent’s bishop with your knight does not mean you couldn’t have, or you missed it due to an oversight. While your opponent smirks and gives you the eye for missing such brilliant opportunity, you prepare yourself for the most important moves of the game.

Sun Tzu further goes on express a thought that’s remarkably similar to the aforementioned.

when using our forces, we must seem inactive

Sun Tzu

It all goes on to reinforce his stance that all warfare is based on deception.

Beyond these, Sun Tzu concludes the chapter by explaining,

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought…

The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.

It is only natural that the person who puts the most thought into the game, who structures a balance of attack and defence, will succeed in checkmating the opponent’s king.

Beyond chess, Sun Tzu’s carefully scripted tactics apply to other things- like outclassing the competition with regards to marketing, like making headway in business, like having a successful football career.

It all boils down to being able to connect the dots between two seemingly unreconcilable fields and coming up with brilliant strategies that could redefine your life forever.

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