Go back to frontpage

10 Lessons in life, resilience and empowerment made meaningful through playing chess

To celebrate US National Chess Day last week, we're sharing this article from Crown Castle Chess on the many lessons we can learn from playing chess.


Chess teaches resilience; this is the ability to cope with and adapt to new situations – both wins and losses. Sometimes you will not see what is coming your way and unexpected things happen. This can happen in life, too. While you may fall down in life and face difficulties, remain strong by picking yourself back up and bouncing back stronger, wiser, and more powerful than before. Keep trying and eventually you will learn and grow! Resilience (also known as stick-to-itiveness), is a key component for emotional health and well-being.


Chess is a game that is played across cultures. By playing chess, you can build a relationship with another person even when the two of you are very different and do not speak the same language. As you play by the rules of the game, you can develop trust and share in a relationship with another person. Both sharing and trusting help form the foundations for good friendships in addition to acceptance, empathy, and generosity of the soul.


In chess, while capturing your opponent’s piece, you may unknowingly have exposed your piece to danger (capture), so plan ahead. In life, when you decide to stand up for yourself or a friend, you also need to plan accordingly. You may need others in your corner (this is similar to your “safe square” in chess). Friends, parents, educators, and people in authority (for example, the police), can be part of your support system, because sometimes problems are too big for you to solve on your own.Know your safe havens. Engage with grace and dignity with others.


You will make mistakes in chess and in life, too. Although you cannot undo your moves in chess or in life, you can always choose to make a better move next time. An emotionally mature person knows to own up to his or her mistakes and accept accountability for them. When you do lose, do not lose the lesson. Learn and grow from it because you can always make a better move next time. In life, happy people approach their own problems as solvable, recognizing that there are usually good solutions!


In chess, you must be able to recognize when you need to get your pieces out of a bad situation. Fortunately, in chess the King is never allowed to put himself into checkmate (capture). This is important in life, too. Follow your intuition and excuse yourself from people who do not make you feel good about yourself. Like the King, we should not put ourselves in bad situations. If behaviors around you are bad or people are being unkind to you, the right thing to do may be to “check out” of the situation instead of going for a “checkmate” by contributing to the conflict or seeking revenge. Sometimes, the best way to stand up for yourself is to remove yourself from the harmful situation.

Be an Enlightened Upstander for yourself and others.


In chess, it is important to follow the rules so that there is a fair chance of winning. Remember that every chess piece can only move in a specific way according to the rules. In life, every person has his or her own strengths, vulnerabilities, or uniqueness which affects how they “move,” too. When we practice coexistence and inclusiveness, it is our job to empathize with, care for, and respect people for their own differences, strengths, and vulnerabilities.


There is a special move in chess called “Pawn Promotion.” When the Pawn is promoted, the pawn becomes a HERO because it becomes a Queen (or any other piece that the pawn wants to be!). The pawn uses foresight wisdom to predict competitor's moves on the board. Foresight wisdom is similar to using your intuition, which is based on your inner feelings. Using good thinking, following your intuition, and dedicating yourself to hard work can contribute to both your success and the success of society! In life, your good works, community passion, and dedication will bring you joy.


Another special move in chess is called “Castling.” This happens when the King and the Castle (also known as the rook) switch places on the board so that the King is strategically placed in a safe and protected space by the Castle. In life, “castling” is similar to building the foundation for creating a safe and loving home and community for your family, friends, and neighbors. Surround yourself with good people who inspire you to be a better person.


The Queen is the most powerful piece on the chessboard. In life, Queens (and other powerful people) ideally will use their authority with mindfulness and fairness. Remember, the definition of bullying - bullies have a power advantage over their targets, so, when you have power, use it graciously and wisely. Let’s create a Culture of Dignity.


Realize that chess is just “Business on the Board,” and there should be no hard feelings when you play the game. You can be competitive, but when the game is over, it is over. In chess and in life, you may win sometimes and lose other times. Accept wins and losses with goodwill toward others, stay focused on your own path, and practice forgiveness. You are Amazing. Remember that.

© Crown Castle Chess 2017.