Chess like life is an existential game. All living creatures including us as kings are in a continuous game for survival until we’re checkmated and the game is over. The board is then cleared and a new game can start in a never ending cycle of struggles for survival.
Our pieces are our possessions, skills, money, time and work: our energy. We can exchange them favorably or unfavorably or even lose them. The opponent’s pieces are nature: We kill a plant or an animal in order to eat; we take someone else’s work in the form of protection or pleasure; we take someone else’s attention in the form of love.
Sometimes we take and sometimes we are a taken from—this is not only reflected in the exchange of pieces but also on the color of the pieces. Once we play white, once we play black.
White pieces stand for the lead, for the intellect and the masculine. White is the first to move, black reacts and stands for nature in the same way that black and white are represented on the ying yang philosophy.
Life is made out of an opening, middle game and an ending. An opening in chess has in most cases prescribed moves: Someone takes care of us until we can survive on our own: we learn to eat, walk, speak, read, write, etc.
Middle-game is when we’ve learned the basics in life. We’re on our own and are ready to get what we want out of life. To get this we devise both in life and chess a strategy. We place our pieces on the best location to deliver checkmate, create advantage, or to win a piece. We go to school and study a certain discipline to make money and obtain prestige out of it, we make friends with people that share our interests, etc.
We exchange the pieces that are more valuable to the projects we have in mind, and trade those that aren’t as valuable: We invest any money we earn into further education; we switch jobs or even country to improve our career prospects; we focus on our family, friends or our hobbies relegating our career.
We also learn when to break the rules, know when we can cheat and when we can’t. This is called Tactics in chess: creating positions, such that your opponent is forced to lose a piece or valuable square. Drop out of school to launch your own startup and succeed in business, cajole your friends to obtain things, lobby your boss to get a promotion, seduce your life partner.
We also of course learn to avoid falling prey to such positions. Everyone’s playing their own game: Corporations sell us things that we don’t need, friends expect us to do things for them, employers expect our loyalty, governments limit our freedom, etc.
We learn to calculate as we call it in chess, plan ahead and see what threatens our goals and our possessions. We prepare a defense if we can foresee those threats but even then there are times when we lose a piece or a desired square.
A loss can break us psychologically. We can be a victim of our own beliefs. The moment we make a loss, we unconsciously believe that we are bad players, we’re having a bad day or that we have bad luck and continuously play according to that belief until we break free from it or resign the game.
Alternatively we can believe the opposite and enter a streak of wins that makes us seemingly invincible until not even our strongest belief can beat the objectivity of life and that streak comes to an end.
Like everything in life, our projects, friendships and our own life reach, as in chess, their ending. All unnecessary pieces have been exchanged and only those essential for checkmate remain: only those meaningful things to our life remain. Checkmate is delivered, the board is cleared and a new game begins.
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