On Bravery, and Risk Taking

“We cannot resist the fascination of sacrifice, since a passion for sacrifices is part of a chess player’s nature.” – Rudolf Spielmann

Often in Life, to either achieve your ultimate goal or to win a battle against today’s opponent, you have to make sacrifices and take calculated risks. For chess players, it is a passion to make these decisions; these are truly the roots of why we play. Although we are facing an active opponent, the future lies in our own choices today.

Queens Gambit Accepted 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 c5 ... 8-12-15(The Classical Queen’s Gambit, Accepted: 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 … black has just moved with pawn to c5)

Gambits are a prime example: When a player offers a “gift” pawn to his opponent, it can be rejected or accepted. To illustrate, in the Queen’s Gambit, accepted, black has risked and lost a good bit of control in the center in the hope of gaining initiative, positing a counterattack with his own C-Pawn. This is one of the most consistently played themes the game has ever known. Control of the center is a key principle because every thing moves through it over the course of a game.

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In everyday life, often the thing being demanded from you is to be brave, brave on your decisions, brave enough to defend your priorities – you must choose a position or risk being washed away by others’ plans. It is often better to defend even just one thing well than be carried by the winds of the moment.

To paraphrase Goethe, you could be beaten, but the only way to build a victory is to take a series of risks. When the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, thought of building a video website, they were opposed by literally everyone in their surroundings. They took risk after risk, admittedly losing many key battles and investors along the way, but the ultimate payoff was enormous. To win in any endeavor you must face defeat squarely.

Self analysis should not be taken on a ticking clock.

Unlike golf, there is no “mulligan” operation in chess or life. Once you’ve made a move, good or bad, it’s time to look into the future and make further plans – don’t look behind, don’t dwell on your mistakes. Actively engaging regret can cost you the opportunity that your next move could have. Only a new move can salvage a blunder. Make new plans, think positively, and come prepared to face life.

In short, being brave, and cautiously risking your pieces and position for future rewards, are two sides of the same coin. If you are naturally adventurous, then taking more measured risks is a growth step. If you are a thinker, you need to know how to take strong action on your conclusions.

Winning takes more than intellect. “The game” requires Heart as much as mind; not only chess, but Life itself. Action should naturally follow thought, and Mastery begins in that balance.

Use all that you have to win. Be Brave.


image: Queens Gambit, Accepted – created with http://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-diagram-generator.php 

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