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4 Skills That Are Transferrable From Chess To Business


It’s estimated that hundreds of millions of people play chess in more than 150 countries around the world. Their reasons for doing so are manifold: to unwind, to exercise their mental faculties and to socialize with other like-minded individuals. But can chess help with other facets of modern life? Will the time spent on the chessboard serve you well in your professional role, too?

The good news for aficionados of the game is that yes, there are plenty of skills accrued during the practice of chess which can be transferrable to the business world. While this list is by no means an exhaustive one, it comprises a brief introduction to some of the most important tips and tricks that are learned through playing chess – and how they can be employed in a professional setting to advance your career prospects.

1. First impressions.

Any chess player worth their salt will have a handful of strong chess openings at their disposal which sets their stall out, puts their opponent on the back foot and paves the way for future success. The same is true in a business sense; whether it’s a new job interview, a board meeting or negotiation over a raise, starting how you mean to go on is of paramount importance. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, not least in the business world, so take your lead from your chess game and begin with confidence and impetus.

2. Planning ahead.

According to the author of a Wall Street Journal number one bestseller, “every victory, every loss, everything you do in life will boil down to your next five moves”. That’s as applicable in chess as it is to your career, since planning in advance to stay one step ahead of the competition is absolutely vital to achieving your goals. You should not only be thinking about how to take your company in the right direction, but also how your rivals might react and what you should do next to leverage your advantage.

3. Avoiding pitfalls.

Chess is all about setting traps for your opponent to fall into – but you must remain mindful that they will be planning exactly the same for you. As such, you must stay hyper-vigilant and keep tabs on all of the various moving parts in the game, even as you devise and follow your own strategy. The world of commerce presents similar challenges; although it might not be quite as adversarial or aggressive, there are invariably unforeseen circumstances which will slow you down and trip you up. Looking out for and avoiding such pitfalls is key to business success.

4. Problem solving.

Each new day in the workplace is likely to throw up brand new challenges to overcome and problems to circumvent. According to a recent study published in the scientific journal Educational Research Review, there is evidence that chess can improve cognitive and academic skills. The ability to encounter new issues, stay calm under pressure and find a way to solve them is equally important in chess as it is in a professional sphere, so you should take heart from the lessons learned in the former and apply them where applicable in the latter.

Chess is more than just a relaxing and stimulating pastime – it’s also excellent brain training for a variety of situations you’re likely to encounter in a business capacity.