Tactics are short lived, but The Art of Strategy never dies...
Welcome, to The Life Strategic!We teach Life and Business through the Chess Metaphor.
“Chess is imagination” – David Bronstein
When a player calculates complex chess variations he has to “see” the pieces moving on the board. He has to imagine them in action, capturing or being captured, sacrificing themselves in a bold, aggressive attack, or protecting a weak spot by taking a defensive stance.
While disentangling intricate calculations, a player can easily fall victim of what is called a “chess hallucination.”
For example, you’re considering moving your rook from the a-file to the e-file. You evaluate your opponent’s likely responses, then promising continuations. For each one of these lines you reach a critical position to which you give a rough estimate. If you’re not happy with any of the resulting setups, you go backwards in your mind until you reach the initial position, and try to find other possible good alternative moves.
To make this happen, you’re racking your brain trying to visualize several hypothetical positions in your mind.
And this is how hallucinations happen. All of a sudden, you find yourself completely absorbed into some imaginary board, so much so that you end up removing the real one from your perception, the actual, real position of the pieces you could see right now under your eyes if you were just looking.
Suddenly, your perception becomes your reality.
Even if the rook is currently placed on the a-file, you really can’t see it, because your imagination has lead you to imagine it being on the e-file for such a long time. You got accustomed to seeing it on the e-file, and you’re now quite relaxed about it. No need to check again the rook’s position with your actual sight because you’re pretty sure it’s stationed on the e-file… And there you go.
“Imagination is the ability to form new images and sensations that are not perceived through senses such as sight, hearing, or other senses” – Wikipedia.
So, the basic difference between “imagination” and “hallucination” seems to be a person’s will: imagination is usually carried out voluntarily, while hallucinations just seem to happen, randomly and incidentally. On a perceptual level, “sea legs” are a kind of hallucination. A person newly on land after spending long periods at sea may sense an illusory rocking motion, having become accustomed to the constant work of adjusting to the boat making similarly swaying movements.
Accustomed and relaxed – that seems to be the soft spot where even the most trained imagination can be overcome by the involuntary hallucination, both in chess and in life.
Imagination is a powerful tool to use when setting your life goals and planning how to fulfill your dreams. But you should never forget that hallucinations, or delusions, are a very likely byproduct of the imagination that can seriously hamper your results.
When you gain a strong position in life – or what you perceive to be a strong position – don’t get accustomed too easily to what you have; don’t relax and cease to pursue your dreams too soon.
You passed your exam? Nice! It doesn’t mean you can quit studying though. Boss just gave you a raise? Congratulations! Work even more and show him you’re worth it. Your life dream came true and you’re leaving for a around-the-world trip? Awesome!
The trick is not to be overcome with the image, riding off the most recent achievement’s glory. Keep your imagination grounded and active, and don’t let the occasional “rook on the wrong file hallucination” ruin your dream.
You must take action to fulfill your visions of how you want things to happen. Just remember Reality is dreaming about YOU on the other side of the board, so you have to be defensive too. To live your dreams, your sense of what is possible, probable, and real will determine what your next move will be…
“Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?” – Sun Tzu
image: hallucination of strategy CC 0 photo from Pixabay courtesy of geralt – edited
The Ultimate Truth of Chess
“We are in truth but pieces on this chess board of life, which in the end we leave, only to drop one by one into the grave of nothingness.” (c 1120) – Omar Khayyam
In Chess you are always reaching. If you spectacularly won your last game, the rush only lasts until you wonder how to improve it. The search is pressing for the dedicated player; the search for a better end-game, a better opening or middle. You want the Truth of Chess. It may ever be “the next thing,” but we keep looking knowing the Search itself is what is important.
“No fantasy, however rich, no technique, however masterly, no penetration into the psychology of the opponent, however deep, can make a chess game a work of art, if these qualities do not lead to the main goal – the search for truth.” – Vasily Smyslov
Chess players can lie to themselves. They can tell themselves they are better than their opponents, but it is a lie – there is always someone better, and anyone can win on any given day. They may come up with an excuses for their losses, but the next time they play that opponent it is likely they will lose again because they were not honest.
Honesty means you can eventually grow out of your limitations.
The truth is equally important in life. Lies and hypocrisy are unsustainable. If you live your life on lies and half-truths everything will eventually come crashing down. You have to constantly remember who you told what lie to, and things get increasingly complicated after that.
Even if you would be able to sustain a life of lies, it would be lonely. People would suspect you, there would be no trust, and true friendship would become impossible. Serious relationships do not stay together when built on lies.
“On the chessboard lies and hypocrisy do not last long.” – Emanuel Lasker
Regardless of your journey, looking for and living the truth is always the most efficient route. Your conscience is clear and you can move forward and enjoy your time on whatever chessboard you play. Look ahead. Recognize and appreciate the truth wherever you find it. Truth resolves the doubts life brings us, and enables spiritual and intellectual growth.
Whether playing White or Black, only Truth wins.
image: chess – Creative Commons 0.0 photo from Pixabay courtesy of Roark – edited
Opening Theory, Pt. 3: King Safety
Quite simply, you can lose early if you neglect your king’s safety.
All pieces have a point-value attached to them, but the king is priceless – not because he is slow, lazy or useless, but because he is too powerful to be assigned a value. Losing the king ends the game however highly developed your position may be. Insuring ourselves against defeat is more important than a grand offensive strategy.
“The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” – Sun Tzu
In 2003, Grandmaster Alexander Ivanov, participating in the Levy Memorial tournament in Denver, faced a lower rated (2272) American player in the first round of the event. The Grandmaster played white, and faced a side-line of the Sicilian defense from his opponent. On move 6, the black player makes a terrible blunder, and resigns the game. Here’s how it goes: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 d6 5.d3 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.Nxe5 1–0
What would’ve happened if instead of resigning the game, black had continued the game and captured white’s queen? In that case, white could simply play 7. … Bf7+ 8. Ke7 Nd5# Checkmate!
King safety is paramount.
In every opening, the rule of thumb is this: Have an eye on your king. Keeping your king safe is an investment in your future. The return is a more secure middle game and a magnified ability to out-play your opponent there. This can be compared to taking out health or life insurance – it’s not always needed, but when it is, there is no substitute. It is easy to overlook this important strategy in life, and expose ourselves to catastrophe even in games where we are winning.
The rule can be overlooked on the 64-square world too, even among strong players. In another example, the white player, Grandmaster Deep Sengupta plays a sharp Sicillian Najdorf defense against fellow Indian Grandmaster Sahaj Grover. The game followed a poisoned pawn variation that went wrong just out of the opening phase. As Black, Grandmaster Grover played his Bishop to b4 eyeing the innocent white knight on c3. This turned out to be a very serious mistake involving the king safety. Can you guest white’s response?
White simply castled king-side. This surprised Grover, and exposed his king to further attack. The e7-bishop was very critical to the king’s safety. Removing the Bishop for material greed left his king under attack, and he resigned in just two moves. After 19. 0-0 (castling king-side) Black greedily took the c3 knight which was another terrible blunder. The game ended after white played Qxe6 threatening to drag the black king out of his position and into the open.
What is the most valuable asset in your life and business? King security is the most valuable commodity on the chess board. In life and business there are an array of answers to this question, from physical health, to peace of mind, to inherited family real estate. But whatever they are try to follow the chessboard rule of thumb.
Protect your mission-critical assets at the earliest opportunity.
*(1) (edited: I had the original photo set up wrong)
Images created with http://www.chessvideos.tv/genboard.php
Opening Theory, Pt. 2: Using Development
“There are three things that matter in real estate: location, location, location.” – Anonymous
Early placement of pieces on useful real estate is key to a winning chess game. It’s said that there are three things that matter early in Chess: development, development, development.
The true value of a piece lies in its position and mobility, and the total value of a position lies in the placement and mobility of all the pieces and their alignment to the player’s strategy. Early on then they must leave their starting place and jump to the important squares. This is “development” – To activate the pieces and quickly put them in their best squares, enabling an easier Middlegame.
“Get there first with the most.” – General Nathan B. Forrest
The purpose of the first opening moves should therefore be development. The lack of it can be chaotic, and we can understand this by studying the openings called “gambits.” In these sets of openings, material, usually a pawn, is sacrificed for early position and mobility. The lead in development aims to maximize attacking possibilities: as a rule being on the offensive gives you more room for error should you make a mistake, so it is sound strategy to be the aggressor.
The Morra Gambit of the Sicilian defense opening is one such position: it arises after 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 [Morra gambit accepted] 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4
White has sacrificed a pawn for development time, meaning more white pieces have left their initial squares to occupy key positions than black. If all goes well, white develops an impressive tactical position in the middle game. Black on the other hand is already on a material advantage because of white’s sacrifice. Black works towards developing solid defenses and uses this material advantage to win the game by converting it to an even greater advantage as the game progresses.
“Those who are first on the battlefield and await their opponents are at ease; those who arrive late on the battlefield and then engage become exhausted.” – Sun Tzu
Here’s a beautiful example from a game played by the eighth world champion Mikhail Tal, who is famous for his elegant combinative play, and sharp tactics. The below game (Morra Gambit, Accepted) was played in the year 1991 between Mikhail Tal (white) and Neibult (black) 
Black has failed to defend properly and ruined his position. His pieces are tied down and underdeveloped. If your opponent employs a gambit opening, you should be prepared to accurately defend. This position is a masterful example of what would happen if you fail to do so.
By playing a gambit variation, Tal sacrificed his pawn to obtain a lead in development, which in turn was used to launch an aggressive attack. The underdeveloped position of the black player made it very difficult for black to defend and his position eventually faltered.
The game continued – Black sacrificed his d-pawn as a desperate measure to defend his position, and also played his Rook to e6 to save his king when white played Qc4. Now, although Tal can simple play Nf6 and win the game, he employed a more beautiful tactics – he sacrificed his Queen by playing Qc5. The game ended in a few moves: 20.Qxc5 Nxd5 21.Rxd5 exf4 22.Ne7+ Kf8 23.Rxd7 Bxd7 24.Bxe6 1–0
“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu
Being ahead in development applies not only to the 64-square world, but also to the business world. Winning over the competition in business requires that we not only act faster than our opponent, but also develop smarter so as to hamstring the competition and maximize our own “real estate.” By having our resources in a fluid, mobile, and useful position early in a negotiation or business venture we can capitalize on market trends and competitor inertia.
Early development gives you more opportunities, and possibilities that would otherwise stay invisible. Occupying the battleground first multiplies the force you can apply later on. By mobilizing early, your game will be easier.
images: created with http://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-diagram-generator.php
Control the Center – Opening Theory, Pt. 1
Ask ten grandmasters about the most significant squares on the chess board, and you’ll get the same answer – the central squares, or simply, “the center.” In chess, the central squares are regarded with special respect, not only because controlling them is critical for the middle game, but also because of the fact that they are the bloodiest battle ground. Everything moves through the Center, and pieces positioned there exert the greatest influence. The parallels with life circumstances are key to understand, but first we should address Chess, proper.
Few common themes run through every opening, but there are several that act as guiding principles. Among these, one crucial idea for openings is the active fight in the center. The person who succeeds in controlling the center has an advantage because he restricts the enemy pieces, and has greater piece mobility, space advantage, and also an advantage in development. When the position starts to open up, the pieces generally engage each other there; early in the game pawns there have the greatest impact.
Consider this opening position which arises from the common French Tarrasch variation:
Many kids playing in weekend tournaments will be able to tell you the variation by name and the related theory, which may be a dozen moves. The real trick is to understand why these moves are made, and the ideas behind them.
In this position (forget the tactics and instead concentrate on the strategy), both players fight hard for central control. Black for example, exchanges on the central d4 square, and follows with another blow in the center with f6. White balances the pressure on the center by playing his bishop to either f4 or g5 square, castles on the king side and brings his Rook to the e-file. After an exhaustive battle both players obtain favorable positions based on their strategies.
The middle game will be left with imbalances for both players. Black, for example ends up with a weak central pawn structure, but gains a good tactical position because of his sharp bishops pointing towards white’s king side. White meanwhile would work hard to exploit black’s structural weakness. This is the general plan arising from the opening, and may vary depending on the variation the players chose to play. But think for minute that one player makes a mistake in this crucial battle for the center, what would happen?
When a player controls the center, in life or in chess, he restricts his opponent’s options and development. This lead in positioning can help the player seize the initiate and launch effective offense elsewhere. When the center of the board is controlled, it also gives an advantage in space that enables superior mobility.
Any contest can be seen as a negotiation
In a negotiation you try to satisfy the most fundamental questions of the opponent’s leader, without conforming to his worldview. The center squares of a negotiation are the key terms of the contract – you can tie them down with minor questions, pawns, or you can engage them through more powerful questions from the wings.
Pawns are crucial in limiting the more powerful capabilities of an opponent, and the Opening relies on them. They are minor considerations and questions that must be obeyed, because they support one another – alone they mean little, but in aggregate they determine how the game will unfold. Full pieces, or “technical skills,” whether marketing and ideological like the bishops, or social and sales like the knights, are perfect for supporting the tactical minor pieces that dominate early game play.
Beach-head strategy is the military equivalent of this principle. A navy entering enemy territory will first build a perimeter (minor control) along the beach and protect it until reinforcements arrive, when the landing begins; after which they spread and begin the offensive. Similarly the center is where the battle for control begins.
The center is the heart of the battle. He who controls it has multiple advantages, and most often directs the game. Get there first with an organized force, and opportunity will unfold as a matter of course.
image: French Tarrasch Opening created with http://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-diagram-generator.php
In chess it is considered bad form to laugh at your opponent when you win (unless you are very good friends.) You can and should occasionally laugh at yourself though, whether you win or lose. A sense of humor is essential to success and longevity in the chess world. Chess is a serious game that can take a long time to play and requires quiet and deep concentration. If you cannot laugh at it occasionally, you may end up take yourself too seriously.
“A computer beat me in chess, but it was no match when it came to kickboxing.” – Emo Phillips
When you are obsessed with moving down the board you may not see your opponent’s potential checkmate. It is a rookie mistake and very costly. For that very reason you should laugh if it happens. A bone head move in chess is still a bonehead move. Life is like that too.
You turn on the television before going to dinner with your significant other, and end up watching three episodes without noticing the time. Then the phone call rings – from him or her wondering where you are. Oops, that was a truly laughable moment that you should be able to recognize as one. Jumping up and down cursing yourself and will accomplish nothing, and fix nothing. So why not laugh and move forward.
“I failed to make the chess team because of my height.” – Woody Allen
When someone is laughing at you, join them! It changes your whole perspective because now you are not being laughed at, and instead you are laughing with someone. It doesn’t matter whether this person still thinks they are laughing at you. It is your perspective that is important and it is far more enjoyable to laugh with someone, than being laughed at.
Consider that life is hard enough without enjoying what you can of it, so laughing at jokes or your own bad moves is an opportunity you should both enjoy and be on the lookout for. Releasing the tension of a bad loss can bring objectivity back to your play. If you are too wrapped up in the goal of the game you will lose your ability to think critically about how you play it.
Interviewer: “Which of the great dead players would you like to play?”
Judit Polgar: “I like to play against people who are alive.”
Perspective makes all the difference and a good one will change how you approach your chess play and daily life. Humor is truly a game changer and should be treated with the respect it deserves, with maybe a chuckle. When there is laughter, inspiration is nearby. Take delight when the tactics of the game work for you AND against you.
Don’t kick yourself. Smiles win more games.
image: Chess on air by Mikhail Belyaev through CC BY-SA 3.0 via 500px – edited 2
“Don’t be afraid of losing, be afraid of playing a game and not learning something.” – Dan Heisman
When you play Chess you are going to lose at some point. Some players will lose with more frequency than others, but all have lost before and will lose again. The trick is in what you get out of the sting of defeat. Learning how to lose graciously and still learn something meaningful will insure future victories. There are lessons in losing that can teach you grace, poise, and skill if you are willing to recognize them.
Losing can also teach you determination. Someone who never loses a match will get complacent and lose their edge. When they do eventually lose, the shock of it can knock them back. If you remember your losses and cherish them as milestones, you can keep an edge and determination that will help you win more games.
“You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win. You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player.” – Jose Capablanca
It is a matter of perspective really. In Life and Chess, there are possibilities for plans to go awry, and for daily events to fall apart. Viewing life, or chess, with the sure knowledge that it will not always go your way can add to the quality of your life.
When you have a meeting to drive to, you take the best route you know. Yet a car accident can back up traffic and make it impossible to attend your meeting. If you become furious with the delay and frustrated with missing the meeting you are going to be miserable and nothing will salvage your day. Or you can hope whoever is in the accident will be OK (they are having a worse day than you) and try and find alternate routes for the future so you can avoid similar things in the future.
You accept the consequences and get on with you day. Allowing that you can lose will bring you calm in the face of setbacks.
“Most players … do not like losing, and consider defeat as something shameful. This is a wrong attitude. Those who wish to perfect themselves must regard their losses as lessons and learn from them what sorts of things to avoid in the future.” – Jose Capablanca
Losing a chess game or tournament can be the same way. You can recognize that today your opponent was better than you, learn from it and move to the next game, or you can become furious and refuse to consider the fact that he or she is more skilled.
Belittling the achievements of others, especially in a game like Chess where nothing is hidden, is a sure way to limit your exposure to learning. To quote my martial arts instructor, years ago – You can make your own line longer, or cut the line of the other person. What is the most constructive route to take? It is all a matter of perspective in Chess, and in Life.
Choose consciously. The Way you lose is Crucial.
image: Losing Chess courtesy of karpidis through CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr – edited
Tradeoffs, and The Point System
Chess is organized by a value attribution method called ‘the point system’, according to which each piece is assigned a number. This simple mechanism helps a beginner understand tactical tradeoffs. But as the player improves, this value system may collapse for other considerations – the value of pieces start changing according to the position at hand, and other factors. We call it material imbalance.
Some positions, like this one taken from Nimzowitsch v. Alapin, St. Petersburg 1914, demonstrate the principle that “the value of a piece only depends on the use it can be put to,” and that trading a piece can make for game winning time or positional improvement.
In this game, Nimzowitsch offers a pawn in exchange for time, which is essential to develop his pieces. Later, he again offers a full piece for overwhelming attacking opportunities. Eventually black ends up with a big material advantage, but is not able to defend his king. The problem with black is the underdevelopment of his pieces, and lack of coordination.
12.0–0–0! Nimzowitsch sacrifices his knight for attacking opportunity.
Had Nimzowitsch followed the traditional value system (that you can find below), he would have played some quiet chess, and might have missed this beautiful continuation.
Here’s the continuation: 12.0–0–0! exd4 13.Bxd4 Nc6 14.Bf6 Qxf6 15.Rhe1+ Be7 16.Bxc6+ Kf8 17.Qd8+ Bxd8 18.Re8# 1-0
The beautiful combination above throws the value system astray. Tradeoffs in Life are more complex than the game of Chess, but material imbalances in both may be guided by universal principles that help the player make wise choices.
Nimzowitsch’s principle from the above game can be restated to the dual life principles: “Know your priorities, and spend your material resourcefully.”
Our goals, aims and priorities guide us in our day to day decisions, whether it is the board room, or the kitchen table. Living a purposeful life has always been about sticking to an ideal or a goal and consciously pursuing it. The Indian monk Swami Vivekananda put it beautifully:
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”
Nimzowitsch’s decisions were based on his tactical goals – creating the lines of attack, getting his pieces mobilized early – and his strategic objective of punishing his opponent’s passive play by seizing an overwhelming initiative. All this spearheaded into the beautiful game.
Resourcefulness is the second principle. Nimzowitsch developed and made the best use of ALL his available pieces; and sacrificed/traded the unessential ones for the required compensation of his plan – for attacking opportunities.
In our financial lives, Trade-offs can help us lead a more satisfied and well planned life. Knowing our capacities and bringing to the table our affordable resources is an essential principle that drives the world of investment and retirement planning; and differentiates proper trades from reckless gambling.
Trading an investment of time early in life, like what it would take to set aside $2k a year in your twenties, can mean you are able to retire decades earlier than someone who begins investing in their forties due to the power of compound interest. If we instead follow the status quo and live on student loans and credit cards, trading momentary advantages with the life equivalent of a chess point system, our financial strategy might fail us later.
Imbalances in Mobility, Position, and Material are the moving forces of life, changing borders, marriages, and markets. Knowing when to trade one for another can mean you outplay the curve as the game progresses.
Granted, Nimzowich was up against an inferior opponent, and a more capable GM in the other space wouldn’t have accepted his gambit, but he knew where he stood. Know who you are playing, and if the imbalance is on your side push it into a winning game.
Trade an ounce for a pound – the smallest things can make the difference.
image: Nimzowich vs Alapin – St Petersburg 1914 – white to move with 12. 0-0-0! created with http://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-diagram-generator.php
image (2): Chess Piece Values courtesy of Wikimedia Commons image capture
“The fact that a player is very short of time is to my mind, as little to be considered as an excuse as, for instance, the statement of the law-breaker that he was drunk at the time he committed the crime.” – Alexander Alekhine
If you have a quick, solid opening it can save time for the middle or end game. Such preparation is one effective use of time – a prepared plan can save time in the opening for middle game analysis, in case any surprises come up. A quick, efficient early game can be a distinct advantage.
Time pressure is something we all have to deal with in Life. It seems like there is never enough, but in truth though, it is all in how you use what you do have.
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning in indispensable” – Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Time is the most important non-renewable resource in chess. Even with an upper limit, we don’t know how much of it we have in a game – if we lose before the clock finishes we lose it all. This means that we should sacrifice time just as we would sacrifice our pieces, when there is tangible benefit to do so.
It can feel like you are fighting the clock when playing some opponents. You feel rushed, like it is a struggle to keep up. Relax. If you are calm and focused can you use your time wisely and efficiently. Time is not the enemy: it is the board you are fighting, and focusing on it that way can make all the difference.
When anything with a time restraint comes up, start on it as soon as possible. Simple things like a driver’s license renewal should be taken care of before they can cause headaches; beginning now on a non-urgent task now can make all the difference to a project’s outcome.
“The tactician must know what to do whenever something needs doing;the strategist must know what to do when nothing needs doing.” – Savielly Tartakower
Shore up your pawn structure; insure against a back-rank mate. If you can make immediate minor improvements in your game when things are not pressing you can insure victory. A little forethought and sound preparation wins over an uncertain offense.
There is a long list of things in our lives that simply require a chunk of time. With effective clock management we can take care of our chores and tasks, allowing us to enjoy it all the more when we do take the offensive.
Time reveals all things, including depth of principle. Commit to playing right.
image: Chess Pieces courtesy of Nit Soto aka Edith Soto through CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr
In Chess, a tactical sacrifice may be made to obtain an intangible reward, usually positional, through “gifting” material early. Sacrifices can at times be forced, and at others can advance your game considerably – in some cases, a sacrifice can make sure you don’t lose, securing either a draw or a much better position.
In Chess and in Life a person needs to be smart in this to get the most value out of the sacrifice – planning needs to be done, thinking must be several moves ahead. You learn the art of analytical giving as you go, and, depending on your focus and the sacrifice, you get better at it.
For new players, the primary goal of Chess is to preserve your pieces and simultaneously capture your adversary’s. Progress a little and you learn that a willing loss of power can ensure victory. Grandmaster Tartakower said, “To avoid losing a piece, many a person has lost the game.” Knowing the value of resources versus the positions they insure is key to understanding the game, in both Life and Chess. Resources in either can be time, material, or attention.
When we are young, much like new chess players, we do not understand the necessity to invest Time outside of immediate reward. Taking time to do our homework, mow the lawn, or any other chore is repugnant to us.
As we get older we learn that the sacrifice of time can bring many things that are required by the act of living. We have to work to put a roof over our head, to insure a certain quality of life. By giving up our time to work we are gaining security and a measure of freedom in our daily lives.
Also like in Chess, we sacrifice our own advancement for others. In chess you may sacrifice a pawn or knight to allow another piece to bed more effective. In Life, we work and pay the bills so our families can go to school. Parents spend their whole lives sacrificing for their children. Working two to three jobs to afford things the children may want, or to pay for extended schooling. Countless critical decisions go into rearing a child.
A sacrifice forces the issue to the board; it is an issue that cannot be ignored.
If you accept one, your position is now indebted to the other person. If you give one, you have less power over the relationship. Ideally, in offering a trade of a resource for a better position, the balance should be that you come out ahead whether it is accepted or refused.
In countering one, perhaps you should just acknowledge it … To quote the first undisputed chess champion of the world, “A sacrifice is best refuted by accepting it.” – Wilhelm Steinitz. I would add that accepting the need for you to make one is crucial to winning many games too.
In both giving or accepting a gift, rationally, you forever alter the nature of the game. Don’t give blindly, and make it count.
image: Tal vs Parma, 1961, “Sacrifice to gain material” – image generated via http://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-diagram-generator.php