“For me, Chess is life and every game is like a new life. Every Chess player gets to live many lives in one lifetime.” – Eduard Gufeld
Chess is an game of honesty. It requires calculation, moves, analysis, interpretative skill, resilience and practice. Nothing is hidden on the board. The less you know of the game, the easier it is to overestimate your own strengths; or underestimate your weaknesses.
As I get ready to leave my forties I am in a unique position to study the Life Endgame, perhaps to the chagrin of my younger twenty-something friends awash in newfound freedom and dreams.
“In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before everything else, for whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middle game and the opening must be studied in relation to the endgame.” – Jose Raul Capablanca
The games of youth can bring you an unrivaled joy and an inspirational view of the world, whether you are winning or losing. Every loss can be spun up to be a “learning experience,” and so written off as a win of sorts. Things aren’t as personal when you are moving at the speed of a twenty-five year old – if a challenge goes against you you can always up the ante or find a bigger one behind it.
You win games in youth often by sheer enthusiasm; my mentor called it bluntly; take enough risks and some will pay off, in his direct quote “Fortune Favors Fools.”
But as I said I am turning fifty soon and my game is more based on defense and minimizing risk. I have substantive assets to protect, and the lightning inspiration I had at 20 doesn’t find me often, perhaps because I’ve learned not to trust it.
Being consistent is something I take pride in; yet my publishing schedule here has not been consistent lately. I have the material in rough form written for several months ahead of time, but have questioned myself for not sustaining my previous schedule. The reason I have not published is not because there isn’t a vision, but because I have been mulling over what comes next for the blog.
I have never sought to monetize this site. I feel obligated to the subscribers to provide elegant content on a strategic theme, and have chosen to never sell anything behind that. The blog is a resume of sorts and a labor of love. All I ever want from it is to reach minds that can appreciate the concept that Strategy is a Learned Skill applicable to any undertaking in life.
“Later, I began to succeed in decisive games. Perhaps because I realized a very simple truth: not only was I worried, but also my opponent.” – Mikhail Tal
Worry is a daily part of life in your fifties. People depend on you and the way ahead is often very complicated; one or two more moves and you’ll be in the endgame of your career. Even if you’ve played a solid game, one mistake can upend your future.
Nearing Endgame can be an unsettling position; it can force a hot sweat down your spine if you are behind in material or position. If you played unsoundly in your youth, it shows in your fifties. But the masters of the game understand how to contain the turmoil and plan to execute a graceful resolution under pressure; they have mastered how to stay in the zone.
“The game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess.” – Benjamin Franklin
You can keep your cool in turbulence if you understand that bad times are more psychological battles than they are physical. Deal with them from the inside. Assure yourself you can handle it – dig in and play top notch defense. Be above board in all things; a player not a piece, and inspect the position from an objectifiable distance.
“Chess teaches you to control the initial excitement you feel when you see something that looks good and it trains you to think objectively when you’re in trouble.” – Stanley Kubrick
In Real Life, I have played a solid game. I have savings, own a house, and am socially active on a lot of platforms; the blog was an experiment born of my love for Strategy. The verdict is out on whether to keep it running of mothball it – I haven’t run out of material but feel obligated to dedicate myself to the money making activities where I can make a dent in my own retirement income now.
Standing alone as a body of work, I feel this has been a success. The friends, followers, and enablers I’ve met through the blog have been a boon beyond belief. Thanks to them I have grown as a person.
“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” – Peter Marshall
If you have thoughts about what direction I should take this blog, let me know at “firstname.lastname@example.org”
For now I think I’ll double my rooks on the C-File…
image: Play the Chess Master – CC 0 photo from Morguefile – edited