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Love Chess: A Game That Builds Great Skills May 18, 2015

Posted by Afflatus in Uncategorized.
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Chess is a wonderful game! At once pleasurable and edifying, chess teaches important life skills: concentration, cost-benefit analysis, decision-making, thoroughness, and composure. Chess, like so many great games, brings out the best in the human mind! I hope to remain a lifelong player.

The complexity of the game is apparent. Chess challenges players with an almost infinite number of possible combinations of moves; so a chess player will face novel and complex positions in the opening, middle-game, and end-game situations.

More specifically, though, chess develops skills such as concentration, practicing cost-benefit analysis, and shrewd decision-making ability. A good chess player must understand the strengths and weaknesses of each player’s position — at every stage in the game. And there are multiple moving parts, making constant reevaluation necessary.

Knight attack!!!

Knight attack!!!

These skills play out in both a tactical and strategic manner. In many positions, an opponent’s move presents a problem that must be immediately addressed. In a timed game, it’s imperative to quickly isolate the problem at hand, discern various alternatives to address that problem, analyze the pros and cons of each alternative, and finally to select the best one (a process that may take place in as few as 5 seconds). But these tactical considerations should not be simply reactive; instead, each move should fit into the larger strategy of checkmating the opponent’s king. A good player retains simultaneous focus on both the tactical and strategic front — a challenging task!

Finally, chess teaches thoroughness and composure. Even after a player believes she has selected a great move, it is critical for her to thoroughly analyze possible counter-moves the opponent may make. In addition, she should consider potential weaknesses the move may spawn — a step easily overlooked. Chess also teaches a player to emotionally adjust to a bad situation. After I make a mistake, I try to regain my composure, control what I still can, and move forward with renewed rigor.

Attentiveness, cost-benefit analysis, decision-making ability, thoroughness, and composure: these are important skills for lawyers, indeed for all professionals. I hope to continue developing these skills, and I’m convinced chess can help.

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