10 Things I Learned Playing Chess ♟️

Simon Pastor
8 min readJul 25, 2021

“Chess is life in miniature.”

Like a lot of kids, one of my first extracurricular activities was the school’s chess club. I have few memories from that time, only that of losing at a tournament and claiming that I had mistaken a piece’s position on the board. A few years ago, I had a chess craving. So I bought a chess book, a board and challenged my siblings and parents on holidays. That eventually faded…

Then there was the Queen’s Gambit: Netflix’s super successful TV Show portraying Beth Harmon’s rise from child prodigy to World Champion. While I didn’t restart playing chess after watching the show, many people around me did. My brother and friends joined chess.com, and chess even made it to casual discussions and my Youtube suggestions. Last Christmas, my brother challenged me to a game. We played 3 games. I lost 2 and drew the last one. That’s when my enthusiasm for chess resurfaced. I joined chess.com and started playing.

One of the reasons chess has been around for thousands of years and remains an extremely popular activity (650M+ active players worldwide) is that the rules are extremely simple, yet the games can be remarkably complex. In brief: white start, pieces can only move and capture other pieces in a certain way, and the goal is to capture the other side’s king.

There’s something pretty awesome about playing chess: you’re competing against another player, and both of you are using intuition, strategy, brainpower and pre-seen moves to beat the other.

Here are the 10 things I learned by playing chess, at the risk of sounding cliché:

Start by Focusing on the End Goal

“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.”

José Raùl Capablanca, Cuban World Chess Champion (1921–1927)

As stated by Capablanca, to win, you have to know what position makes you win so you can understand how to get there. Too many people play with only a few checkmates in mind (when I was young, I remember only knowing how to…

Simon Pastor

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