ChessEvery now and then I enjoy a game of chess. So when traveling is complete and I arrive on Eastsound, WA, I whip out my Mephisto Master Chess Computer.

It’s important to note, that while I continually apply chess strategy in business life, one could not find a worst player. Without highlighting any self-depreciation, my games tend to flow accordingly:

Press ‘Clear’ and ‘Enter’ for new game. “Bong bing, bong bong.””

Mephisto: “What level?” (Mephisto seems to have chess playing levels from 1 – 1,000,000.)

Mephisto: “Level 1 accepted.”

Mephisto: “White move.”

White move: Pawn E2 – E3.

Mephisto: Queen D8 – E1. Checkmate!

“Care to play again?”

I’ve always been interested in playing at Level 1,000,000 but fear says Mephisto would just taunt me, “Seriously? You? Level 1,000,000. Get Real.” Still, when I arrive home, there’s nothing like enjoying the gentle Washington coast rain, a sip of brandy and getting my pants handed to me by a non-intellectual technical device.

For all the ladies reading, being of the male species, I’ve learned to no longer trust my own intuition. Gone are the days when I can say, “Don’t worry honey, I know exactly where we’re at.” Similarly, this logic applies to chess. Calmly, I usually request Mr. Mephisto for help in understanding my speedy loss. Mephisto’s response is almost always something along the line:

“Note that there is no requirement stated in the question that I must win. But you made fatal mistakes. Here’s a summary:

White could have advanced the P on a7 and, with the Black K on b7, could play Pa8Q+, but your winning move should have been … 1.Bb1 b2 2.Ra2 b3 3.Ra3 b4 4.Ra4 b5 5.Ra5 b6 6.Be4 Kxa4 7.Rd5 Kxa3 8.Rd4 Kxa2 9.Rd3 Ka1 9.Ra3 mate.

Got it?”

 “Yeah Mephisto  … that clears it up.”

After being totally humiliated by Mephisto for years, I’ve learned many things while playing chess everyone can learn:

  1. Never short your ideas or dreams. When you see a good move in life, look for a better one. Emanuel Lasker said this was one of his most important lessons. Finding a move that seems sufficient – or even good – does not mean you’re ready to play it. Instead, you must search for the best move in a reasonable amount of time.
  1. Life is a fairy tale of 1,001 blunders. This quote from Savielly Tartakower reminds us that every player makes mistakes, and there has yet to be player – human, computer or otherwise – whose played life perfectly. So give yourself a break.
  1. The winner of life made the next-to-last mistake. We’ll all make mistakes, right to the end.
  1. Many claim to be masters of life, yet no one has become the master of life. Borrowing from Siegbert Tarrasch, we are reminded there’s always room for improvement.

For me, chess is really about sacrifice. And with that sacrifice is a level compassion, understanding or empathy for the suffering of others.  From chess, we learn not to be greedy simply for the purpose of material wealth. This is the heart of the Buddhist way of life.  It is regarded as a fundamental part of human love and foundational to the highest principles in philosophy and religion.  It is much needed today in our society. Yet compassion starts with good intention and proper goals.

So with that, I press, ‘Clear’ and ‘Enter’ for new game.”

“Bong bing, bong bong.”

Mephisto: “Are you back again?

Siiiiiiggggggghhhh … oh how I suffer.