What Chess can teach Kids about Entrepreneurship?
Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk started playing chess at a very young age. According to his brother, Kimbal, “he is able to see things more clearly in a way that no one else I know of can understand”… “there is a thing in chess where you can see 12 moves ahead if you are Grandmaster. And in any particular situation, Elon can see things 12 moves ahead.”
Thinking beyond your first strike and looking at the bigger picture comes naturally to chess players. With a combination of strategic thinking and foresight, they can create scenarios and create potentially successful plans to launch projects with high stake value.
“I think chess is the best game in the world,” says Richard Branson, British billionaire entrepreneur and business magnate “I love the fact that I can combine the thrill of risk-taking and strategy planning with a cup of tea and a nice chat with a friend.” Branson draws parallels between chess and entrepreneurship, explaining, “Business is like a giant game of chess: you have to make strategic moves, and learn quickly from your mistakes.”
“I must have competed in thousands of games in my lifetime,” he says. “Every game is different, and every player has their own strategies that make for a unique contest. I’ve found lots of entrepreneurs, in particular, are always keen for a game.” — Richard Branson.
The best business moves come right off the board.
In the HBO documentary, Becoming Warren Buffett, Warren Buffett uses the story of a king and his chessboard to illustrate how compound interest has driven his fortune to stratospheric heights.
What would you pick, short-term gain or long-term growth? The best entrepreneurial moves come straight from the board. It’s incredible how many chess principles are directly applicable to the world of business and how the best leaders can make the right moves in so many situations. They can handle defending their turf, attacking competition, or exploring new markets alongside strategic development.
Chessboard can be found in the home or office of the most influential people in the world, including Albert Einstein, Peter Thiel, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Benjamin Franklin, the American founding father, wrote a book on chess “Morals on Chess.” Walter Tevis, an American novelist and short story writer, know as an avid chess player, wrote the novel “The Queesn’s Gambit,” which was made into an acclaimed TV series on Netflix in 2020.
Chess is a gamified version of battle where the enemy has to be defeated at all cost for you to win the game. Each player fervently studies the board, anticipating their next move, running through potential scenarios in their head. Business is no different. Entrepreneurs put chess principles into action on a regular basis, often without even realizing that they are strategically positioning their pieces in a series of moves that have been utilized multiple times through the years.
The game of chess is about war. Specifically, it is about protecting the most valuable piece, and engaging in war with the opponent who wishes to defeat you. There are differing strategies for both offensive and defensive play, and the experiened player knows how to do both. Business world is much the same: protecting something of value (the company) and engaging in war with the opponent who wishes to win. The business person who can successfully navigate offensive and defensive tactics will have advantage in the game of business.
Chess and Business requires careful planning, time management, and the motivation to act.
Chess has become part of the everyday language of entrepreneurs: we checkmate our competitors/ we are just pawns in a game/ we think three moves ahead.
One of the most accomplished chess player of all time, Garry Kasparov, in an interview with Harvard Business Review talked about his experience with the game of chess and lessons for the business people.
- Never underestimate your opponent, always assume that your opponent will see through your strategy and will be ready with a counter plan. Businessmen and organizations should also make such an effort on whatever they do, planning ahead assuming that they are totally exposed, but still accomplish the task by creating an atmosphere of confusion to cover their tracks.
- Also, through hesitations and pauses, you may communicate to your competitor that you are uncertain or just not ready. Therefore, always be psychologically ready for your competitor’s strategy and play, he may be going for a disruptive strategy which may wipe you out.
- You need to be comfortable playing in the enemy’s territory, if you can convince your enemy that you’re comfortable on their ground, then you can trick them into moving into your own territory.
- Kasparov identifies two types of people: one who looks in detail and are very concerned about it, they are very good in operations, therefore, a very good manager as he would excel at operating with small problems on the board, they would maximize your resources; the other are those who look at the bigger picture.
Ending his interview, he said “You must be lucky in your enemies. For me, it was Karpov, Karpov, Karpov. If it were not for Karpov, I would probably be the victim of the same complacency that dooms most other people.”
What Chess Can Teach Kids About Entrepreneurship?
1. CAN’T PLAY WITHOUT KNOWING THE RULES
Just like in chess, you need to understand your competition if you want to succeed in business.
Learn what your competitors are doing. Who are they? What are they offering consumers that you are not? How can you make your offer better? These questions you have to ask yourself.
2. YOU NEVER LOOSE, YOU EITHER WIN OR LEARN…
Can you really loose by experience? Learning from your mistakes is crucial in chess or business.
3. PLAY THE MAN, NOT THE POSITION
When playing chess, your opponent constantly devices measures to undermine your plans.
While it is important to make plans, it’s even more so to know when to abandon them or simply make adjustments.
While you have your business strategies in place, competitors are also applying their own to capture more market share than you do. Your aim should not be to follow a rigid set of plans. What determines your success or failure is your ability to adapt well and on time and respond effectively to counter what your competitors are doing.
4. NEVER GIVE UP
Chess players, especially at the beginning of the journey, has a tendency to give up, after making a mistake. Yes, very often loosing a valuable piece can cost you a game. But, first, playing till the end will allow you to make a draw, second, your oppornen
5. AGE DOESN’T MATTER
Kids can play chess better than adults. It’s now about your age, it’s about practice, patience, time magagement. The earlier you start the better player you are going to be. Same goes to business.
6. KNOW THE VALUE OF THE PIECES
Each chess piece has a specific value. By knowing them, you are better suited to make decisions on how to place them across the board.
Similarly, when you know the value of your employees, customers, and associates, it will be easier to make wise decisions regarding job responsibilities, consumer targeting, and many more.
7. PRACTICE MAKES PROGRESS
Practice makes progress is chess and business. Yes, it’s all about progress, not being perfect, it’s all about becoming better player, thinker, leader.
8. PLAN SEVERAL MOVES AHEAD
Chess players plan their moves and consider potential responses to those moves. Experienced players foresee moves several turns ahead. That’s how they manage to outwit their opponent.
This is what you must do as an entrepreneur. Making a good forecast is crucial to business success.
9. THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE BETTER
Chess players are measured by chess rating, and there is always someone who has a higher rating or someone who can beat you. Same in business, if you think you are not an expert or you are too young to be an entrepreneur, because you didn’t finish school or college… well, the truth there is always someone better than you, and the key is to start as early as possible…
10. YOU CAN’T TAKE YOUR MOVE BACK… THINK BEFORE YOU ACT
Beginner players stop searching for a move once they’ve located the mover they like. They forget there might be a better one.
In business, you have to make sure you make choices based on the complete set of information from the whole landscape. Don’t jump into the first option that looks good. Consider all your options.
11. KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BIG PICTURE
In chess, you have to keep the ultimate goal in mind. If you play emotionally, you won’t win. You have to be ready to make tough choices.
To achieve your goals in business, you have to stay flexible. Know when to make adjustments or pivot all together, change your offer, marketing strategies… In chess if you plaAlways keep your eyes on the big picture.
12. SKILLS vs INTUITION, FIND THE BALANCE
Chess is an infinite game with millions of possible moves. Therefore, it’s not possible to know and plan for every contingency. There are moments when you have to make a move based on intuition.
As an entrepreneur, you need to find this balance. It is what thinking outside the box is all about. It is also the key to creativity and great achievements and may be the difference between success and failure. Be it unique marketing campaigns, new and unique products and services, and other products of intuition.
“ Intuition is the defining quality of a great chess player. It’s often at the very toughest moments of their chess battles — when they had to rely on pure intuition — that great player came up with their best, most innovative moves”, you need to rely on your gut sometimes when you reach a point in business or life.
13. DON’T SACRIFICE WITHOUT GOOD REASON
Usually when a chess player makes a sacrifice he gets a surge of adrenaline. He is taking a risk. He is making an investment for the future, hoping that this sacrifice will lead to a positive result. He is taking control of the game. That is why experienced chess player will sacrifice only if he sees the advantage. Sounds familiar? Entrepreneurs very often has to sacrifice time with their families in order to build something of value, or fire people to save the company in crisis. The decision of firing people is always hard. And chess teaches us to make hard decisions as well.
Chess principles make excellent advice in the business world.
Chess also helps in increasing concentration. It could be of use to those who have low concentration span as you need to focus intensely calculating positions and trying to come up with a strategy to checkmate your opponent.
Playing chess would also help in elevating your confidence as you now have a way to measure your progress on an everyday basis and you also learn from your previous mistakes which are an important lesson in life also.
The main reason chess is so helpful for memory is that to master chess, you have to learn to expand your working memory capacity to hold a plan for several offensive moves while at the same time holding a memory of how the opponent could respond to each of the moves. The reason improving working memory improves IQ is that you think with what you hold in working memory. The more you can hold, the more rigorously you can think.
Chess is a brutal mental game. So is life. Take risk and make your moves carefully. If you want to succeed in business, you have to be ruthless. This is exactly what chess is about.
Find the book to teach your kids entrepreneurship as early as possible at mykidentrepreneur.com
- My Kid Entrepreneur By Natalya and Zach Story
- Strategic Intensity- Harvard Business Review
- Chess Concepts Peter Thiel Used To Become A Billionaire
- Speed Chess Changed My Brain
- Ten Things Chess Taught Me About Business and Corporate Strategy
- 10 Big Brain Benefits of Playing Chess