Chess a lot like Life

Chess is alive and well in the Middle and High Schools. Someone once said "the game of chess is life." Others have said "life is like a game of chess." I agree with both statements.

For those who have never learned to play chess or for those who only play checkers, please keep reading this letter and you will learn much more about chess and life than you ever thought possible.

Chess is played on an eight by eight squares checker board, but unlike checkers, the game of chess uses all 64 squares (light and dark) whereas checkers uses only the 32 diagonal dark squares.

In chess, there are two sides of pieces (one white and the other black) battling to capture, or checkmate, the other side's king. The kings are males who slowly move one square at a time in any direction (vertically, horizontally or diagonally). They can only capture a piece that is next to them. These two men are considered the most valuable pieces on the chessboard, because if one of them is about to be captured (checkmated), they quit and the game is over for all the other pieces.

Both sides also have one queen each. The queens are females and although these two females are not considered as valuable as the two male kings in chess, they are more powerful than the two kings and any other pieces on the chessboard.

The queen is a woman who can move swiftly in any direction (vertically, horizontally or diagonally) as many squares as are open to her and can capture or remove the first piece that tries to stand in her way. It can also be observed that the kings and queens are equal in size except the male has a larger head. A big head makes the king look more important.

The king and his queen start out in the game of chess, side by side, in the center of each side's back row. It usually doesn't take long in the game for the female to get away from the male to show all the other pieces in the game just how much more powerful she really is.

Beside each king and queen stands a bishop. Each king has his own bishop and each queen has her own bishop. (No doubt, this keeps confessions from occupying all the bishop's time.)

White's king bishop starts on a light colored square to his right and white's queen bishop starts on a dark colored square to her left. The very opposite is true of black's bishops. Bishops are the only pieces in chess that can only move and capture straight along diagonals on the squares of the color which they start on. As in life, bishops in chess are confined to their own worlds and have places they are not allowed to go.

Next to each bishop is a knight. The knights are the only pieces in chess that can jump like a horse over its own pieces and the other side's pieces. Starting on a square of one color, they always end up on a square of the other color. A knight moves one square vertically or horizontally, and then jumps diagonally, ending up on an opposite colored square from the color he started on. Two knights in a row are great for a king, but one knight is usually enough for a queen.

In each corner of each side's back row are the rooks (or castles). The rooks move vertically and horizontally in any direction. A king's castle is his home. When a king's bishop and knight are gone, a special move in chess known as castling allows the king to move two squares toward the corner and then the castle is moved to the other side of the king. The king can also castle into the queen's side of the home (or back row), but it is usually riskier to be on her "wrong" side.

While the queen is away from her king showing off her vast power, the king lays around near the corner in his castled position. However, if a king's own queen ignores him too long while this valuable male is laying around in his castled position, it becomes likely that another king's queen may try to capture him. (It happens more often than one might imagine!)

We have now examined eight of each side's chess pieces. In front of each of these eight pieces stands a pawn. Half of the total pieces in chess are pawns, while most of us in life are pawns. The pawns can only move one square at a time straight ahead (except on their first move, when each has the option of moving two squares). Pawns advance very slowly in chess as in life.

When a pawn has another piece in front of it (belonging to the other side or its own side), the pawn cannot move. It can only capture pieces one square diagonally that are on either side of the square in front of it. (As in life, pawns may be male or female.)

Although they are of the least value of any pieces in chess, if a pawn ever reaches the other side of the board, it can be promoted to a bishop, a knight, a rook, or a queen. Needless to say, every pawn dreams of finally becoming a powerful female queen.

Chess does have one big advantage over life. If you lose in chess, you can set the pieces up again and start all over. I believe chess is the greatest game of logical thinking ever invented. Start playing chess and learn more about life.

--Kenneth J. Wolf #56 (03/19/97)

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