A user from here suggested I post this here, after I posted it on another website.
I love the game of chess. It's a beautiful game in many ways. The game is quite simplistic to learn as there are only 6 different types of pieces, which all move and kill in a certain way, and then a handful of rules. But beyond that there is nearly an infinite amount of strategy and planning to learn and master.
I can learn a lot from chess, and I can apply what I learn to my life. Chess flexes the brain the way Weights flex your muscles. People don’t weight lift because they might be walking down the street and walk by a dumbbell that needs to be lifted. But it keeps them healthy, and able to lift things if they need to, like a couch, or doing other physical activities. I don’t play chess because I'm afraid of randomly finding a chess game lying on the ground in front of my path that I must win. But it does flex my brain, keep me sharp, and allow me to apply some things I learn from chess to my life.
Chess teaches me patience. First it teaches me to think before I move a piece on the board, and look carefully at the wide variety of options, and look for a better move. When I find a better move it teaches me too look closer and make sure it's better, imagining what my opponents next move may be.
In chess it is important to look ahead in a game and picture the chessboard in your head with pieces moved. If you move a piece you need to then look at the board in your head with that piece moved and see how the landscape of the game has changed. A single move can very often change the outcome of an entire game. Chess is basically a mathematical formula in the form of a game. If look at an algebraic formula that is quite complex and change one period or at a multiplication symbol it completely changes the outcome of the problem. It’s the same in a game of chess. This is why it is important to picture a move in your head and possible subsequent moves as well before you make the move on the board.
Picturing this in your head "flexes" your brain and this can be useful in your life as well. you can use the same technique when having an argument with someone. If you say something specific, how will you respond? You can picture your life if you choose to move somewhere, instead of staying put, how will your life change? What aspects will remain the same? There are an infinite number of examples I could give, but it should suffice to say that picturing many games of chess in your head is a useful exercise that can be translated into situations that may arise in your life.
In chess you have pieces to work with. These pieces need to work in conjunction with each other to accomplish goals, with the ultimate goal of winning the game. Perhaps you are trying to move a pawn across the board to promote it to a queen - The pawn, if left to itself will probably be killed by your opponent, or blocked by a piece. To circumvent this you will probably need at least one other piece backing it up. Maybe a rook directly behind it or a pawn to its side (behind) so is a piece takes it, you can kill it with the second pawn. Sometimes you might have five or so pieces all focused on the pawn, because it has the potential to become something much more powerful. Every single checkmate possible requires the combination of more than one piece outside of the checkmated king. Every piece is vulnerable to other pieces in certain condition. Every piece has weakness and strengths.
As in chess, in life, you utilize tools, people, skills, objects, anything, to accomplish a goal, and these are best used in combinations, as in chess. A simple example is preparing a resume. You may have letters of recommendation, as well as previous job history, and these things work together to fight for you to get a job. This is like pushing a pawn across the board. Obviously there are many differences. But chess helps you think about all of the tools you have at your disposal, from connections and people you know, to the Internet, to money, a car a pencil and paper, etc. Every time you want to accomplish anything you have to size up what you have available and work with it. If you want to get to work.. If you have a car, use that. If it’s nearly out of gas do you have cash and a gas station at your disposal? Same is true of chess, you may need a rook in a certain place on the board but in order to get it there you may need to use your other pieces first.
Chess teaches you the importance of planning ahead. If you move pieces randomly, or only moves that accomplish a short term goal, without thought for several moves down the line you will quickly get into trouble. I know for me, situations have came up in my day to day life where I took extra effort to plan ahead solely because I thought about how I plan ahead in chess. If I am going to expend so much mental energy on a game, why would I not do so in my life as well?
Flexibility in chess is very important. Every time a piece is moved the board needs to be entirely rechecked for possible moves. In life there aren't turns so it can be harder to remember to continually reevaluate your situation, but it is still very important to do.
People give up and let chaos theory dictate the outcome instead of themselves. In chess if someone does not see a move they like, or an obvious move, they may give up and randomly move a piece. Be focused; don't let your opponent control the outcome.
Life is like a chess tournament, because you have several smaller goals within the ultimate goals. You can fail at some goals, or games, and still accomplish your larger goals. With within your games or smaller goals you have to have even smaller goals. I feel sometimes I'm losing in my life for awhile, and then I get back on track for awhile, and its somewhat of a cycle. Both in a chess tournament and life it can come down to be focused and STAYING focused.
My actions and choices in chess reflect my actions in choices in life. I am always slow to start, and am rarely aggressive, I take my time, too much time to position myself. I have missed many opportunities to check mate an enemy early on. The same is true in my day to day life. When I am planning for something such as moving, or changing jobs or even smaller things, such as making a piece of art, or organizing my room, I spend too much time readying myself and have a hard time with the follow through.
Chess teaches humility. I have noticed that sometimes I will play someone not as good as I am. Or I play someone as good as I am, but I am well ahead in the game. I get cocky and end up losing. This happens on a professional level, and it happens in life. A example of this would be the designers of the Titanic. They became too cocky. Hubris will be your downfall in chess and life if you aren't careful.
I don't think much about my physical self, my appearance what I wear, my environment, I put more of my energy into helping others, or thinking about ideas involving philosophy and politics and more. I have noticed on the chess board my king is just a nuisance the way my physical body is in real life. I neglect my king and lose early on sometimes, but this is something I am working on, and I think I should work on this in my life as well.