Chess 101 - A valuable life lesson learned fr...

Chess 101 - A valuable life lesson learned from one chess game
by Nick Narlis

The game of chess was taken by storm in the US when American Bobby Fisher overtook Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union in the 2lst game to take the World Championship. Although I was only twelve years old at the time, I was glued to the television at my home that summer watching the matches being held in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Although none of us would go on to become professional chess players, many of the kids and parents in my neighborhood started to play chess much more frequently over the next several years. With all this extra play, I personally became pretty good in terms of not only defeating player's my own age but also older kids and even some grown-ups.

Then a year or so later, the ultimate chess challenge came my way. A grandmaster from Denmark named Bent Larsen who once played both Bobby Fisher (lost) and Boris Spassky (won) was coming to our area to play in an exhibition. For a modest fee, he would take on anyone who wanted to play one game against him, no matter what level they were. My father encouraged me to sign up, happily paid the entry charge and escorted me to the match.

When we showed up, there must have been about 150 players ready to play the grandmaster. Little did we know that he was to play us all at the same time! He would go down the rows of chess boards, with reporters flashing photos making a few moves back and forth with each opponent, one at a time, before doing the same routine with the next opponent.

With no clocks to regulate the speed of play, each of us had a perceived advantage in that we could take a lot more time to ready ourselves for the next moves. Despite this, Larsen was winning the vast majority of his matches. I played very conservatively, hoping to make no critical mistakes and perhaps earn a draw.

Then it happened! I made a mistake. The queens were exchanged, but in the series of moves, I also lost a knight. At the time I did not fully understand how fatal it really was. In the end after numerous exchanges the only pieces left on the board were our king's, a few pawns and that damn one knight of his. I was forced to concede, which Mr. Larsen graciously accepted via shaking my hand and autographing the paper chessboard we just played on.

It was only then that I realized how even one relatively minor mistake can cost you. Not only in chess, but applied in everyday living too. Anytime you can get an advantage in the business world by making an unfair exchange, you need to jump on it, so long as you are playing by the rules.

Never underestimate anyone's abilities even if they seem, to the naked eye, too preoccupied. You must seize opportunities as they present themselves without hesitation.

About the Author

Founder of AssetSync, Nick Narlis has an extensive financial background, which includes being employed nearly 10 years for KPMG as a CPA and Captain and Financial Officer for the U.S. Army Reserves. He is currently appointed as an agent of Private Client Group and a member of the Branchburg Chapter Rotary and NJSCPA. To find out more, visit