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Like many games and sports, chess and checkers can teach wonderful lessons: patience, gracious winning, gracious losing, etcâŚ But these two games perhaps shine best in the way they can teachÂ planning.
Chance doesnât play a role in chess or checkers. There is no roll of dice; no flip of cards. Every move is solely dependent on the skill of the player. After losing a game, a player has no one to blame but himself (or perhaps his more-skilled opponent!). But on the other hand, after winning a hard-fought game, the player can take satisfaction that the win is fully hisâit wasnât just because he caught a lucky break with the dice.
There has been some debate over the years as to which game isÂ harder, chess or checkers. While I think most people would agree that theÂ rulesÂ of chess are perhaps more difficult to learn (due to the fact that there are six different types of pieces, all with different strengths and weaknesses), the games themselves are equally challenging.
Both games require careful concentration, and the ability to strike a balance between watching the entire board (the âbig pictureâ) and what is happening at the current place of action.
Benjamin Franklin, writing in 1786, put it this way:
â[the player will learn] Circumspection, which surveys the whole Chess-board, or scene of action, the relation of the several Pieces, their situations, and the dangers they are repeatedly exposed to, the several possibilities of their aiding each other, the probabilities that the adversary may make this or that move, and attack this or that Piece, and what different means can be used to avoid his stroke, or turn its consequences against him.â
The successful chess or checkers player is the one who has learned the power of planning ahead. Again, taking a quote of Franklinâs:
â[the player will learn] Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action, for it is continually occurring to the player, âIf I move this Piece, what will be the advantage or disadvantage of my new situation? What use can my adversary make of it to annoy me? What other moves can I make to support it, and to defend myself from his attacks?ââ
Checkers, due to its simpler rules, would probably make the best starting place for young players. It will help introduce them to the idea of making their pieces work together, i.e., âIf I move this piece here, thenÂ thisÂ piece will help to guardÂ thatÂ one,â and so on. Later, when these new ideas have been firmly planted, the young player could be introduced to the more complicated chess. (However, I wouldnât be surprised if many players end up preferring checkers!)
Regardless of which game is played, there is no doubt that both chess and checkers are wonderful teachers of skills that arenât always so easy to teach through other venues.