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6 Life Lessons We Can Learn From Chess

For many of us, chess is not merely a game of skill and chance, it represents life and the struggle to survive, to keep pace, and to prosper.  

And if we’re willing to be its students, the ancient game can teach us some valuable life lessons.

There is a myriad of advantages to learning to play chess. No game can rival its ability to sharpen critical thinking skills, decision making, patience and much more. That’s why by introducing your child to chess, you’ll be setting them on the path for academic success.

Chess not only develops specific skills, but it can also teach us precious advice to help guide our way through the journey of life – no matter the stage.

Here are 6 life lessons we can learn from chess:

  1. Make every move count

In chess, you don’t know how many moves you’ll have and you certainly don’t want to waste any. 

In life, we might feel like we have unlimited time and resources, but we don’t. If your goal is to lose weight and you have a choice to either watch another episode of that gripping Netflix series or go to the gym, the latter would be the best move you can make. 

Before we make a decision in life, and in chess, we must ask ourselves, ‘Will this get me closer to my goal?’

  1. Look at the big picture

To gain a tactical advantage and defeat your opponent in chess, you have to accept that you’ll lose some pieces. 

It’s just like in life. It’s incredibly rare to find a successful person who hasn’t made great sacrifices to be where they are. Whether it’s devoting time to building a business or cutting out negative ‘friends’ who are holding you back – it’s just a part of the game. 

  1. See each defeat as a chance to get better

It’s been said that winners are not afraid of losing, but losers are. And people who avoid making mistakes also avoid success.

No-one can expect to start playing chess and never be defeated – we NEED to lose in order to improve our approach for next time. Chess offers us the chance to lose, to reset our pieces, and try again. And again. And again.

Chess teaches us that it’s what we DID that caused us to fail, not who we ARE. Our actions might have been wrong but we can learn from it and do better in the future. 

If you can carry this ‘always the student’ attitude throughout your life, the sky’s the limit to what you could achieve.  

  1. Make your own luck

In chess, you can’t just rely on your opponent making a mistake – they are likely doing the same. To be victorious, you’re often required to create your own winning opportunities by using strategy to set up your opponent and force them to err.

The perfect job, investment, or partner, is unlikely to just fall from the sky into your open arms. You have to put the work in to create these opportunities and let your skills (and a little luck!) do the rest.

  1. Copy those who went before you 

There’s a saying that goes, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal,” and it can easily apply to chess.

In chess, there are often clearly defined steps to victory. You can watch the greats play, analyse their moves and look for familiar patterns, so you can recreate them in your own games. 

And life is the same way. By learning the paths that successful people have taken – through autobiographies, documentaries, classes etc. – eventually you’ll notice that there are distinct lines to greatness, that if copied may bring success to you too.

  1. Learn from people better than you

In chess, it’s said that you need three opponents of differing skill levels to become great. One who’s weaker than you, whom you can teach, one of equal skill, whom you can practise with to gain confidence, and one who is better than you, to learn from.

This is a great lesson in humility. If you just take the easy victories in life, you’ll stay in your comfort zone and soon hit a glass ceiling. Seek those with superior skills and more experience than you and watch your progress accelerate.


Chess is not only a wonderful game, its principles can transcend the checked board and into every area of your life. It may be the best mentor you ever have.

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