Can You Defeat The Chess Computer?

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In this city, chess is all that counts for much.

It can be rough for someone who knows a lot about business and nothing about chess.

It can be rough for someone like you.


You sigh.

In this city, chess is all that counts for much.

Here’s an example of how chess is all that counts for much: The bank only pays out to people who have proven themselves at chess, and the only money it pays out is chess material.

“Welcome to the bank. How much are you worth?” says the bank teller.

“Oh, you’re worth a lot? I’ll get your money in a moment, but if you don’t mind telling, what was it you succeeded at, to become so full of value?” the bank teller asks with a false smile.

The truth is that you’ve only ever succeeded at business, never chess.

“Chess success. Fantastic. And what kinds of chess moves did you do to your opponents, when you were succeeding at chess?”

“I knew it. You’re a liar. You’ve never succeeded at chess. You’re one of those business types who spends all day chasing deals. Get it through your head: Chess success is the only money that matters in this city.”

You run out of the bank.

Here’s an example of how chess is all that counts for much: At the park, everyone is performing chess on each other without you.

You’ve tried to understand chess before, but it doesn’t make sense. That’s too bad for you, because chess is the only way anyone gets any respect in this town.

Here are some chess players.

“Get lost!” snaps one of the chess players. “We’re chessing.”

“Why don’t you go to your business shed,” mutters the other without looking at you.

Walking farther into the park, you see the chess bullies. Thanks to their chess prowess, they pretty much run things around here.

You challenge the chess bullies to a game of chess.

The bullies laugh. They know how this one tends to end.

You make a move.

Immediately, one of the chess bullies knocks over one of your pieces.

“Checkmate,” he says.

The game is over, and you lost.

You visit the Analogy Wizard, the only person in this town worse off than you.

For years, she has supplied the town with endless analogies, which are ways of thinking about things that no one had considered before. But no one cares about analogies here. They care about chess.

“The business person!” she shrieks. “Seeing you here is like eating a picture of you with my eyes. How was business today?”

“I hear that,” says the Analogy Wizard. “For the chess players, the world is like a buffet of all you can eat: food, furniture, acceptance. Everything is for free to the masters of chess who rule our town.”

“Not so for someone like me. Jack of no trades, master of analogies. All they want is to see people performing chess on each other. No one is interested in hearing about what moss is like, or about what skin is like, or about what a swordfish is like.”

“Skin is the sleeve of the body,” says the Analogy Wizard.

“The swordfish is the sword of the sea,” says the Analogy Wizard.

“Moss is like the wig of the tree,” says the Analogy Wizard.

“Thanks for saying that. I only wish anyone else felt the same way. Thanks for stopping by and keeping me company. Maybe I’ll see you at the chess tournament they’re holding later tonight to determine who owns the town?”

You head back out into the city. You’re feeling very tired. You might have to give the chess tournament a miss. There’s no way you’d win it, anyway.

Your business shed is in the bad part of town, far from the thriving chess district.

Here in your business shed, you pass the days making deal after deal.

You make deals at a clip. You run a successful business shed and your deals are second to none.

No one would dispute it: You have the best business shed around.

You go home and sleep and have a dream.

Every night, the same dream. The chessboard. The darkness.

It’s your move.

You try to cry out, but it’s no use.

It’s still your move.

You try to make a move, but you don’t know how. The pieces are moving on their own.

You try to make a chess move, but nothing happens. The other pieces are moving by themselves. What is it all about?

The dream begins to dissipate. But you know something new to be true… the ideas of chess and business are somehow… related…

Someone is shaking you awake. You rub your eyes. It’s the Analogy Wizard. She looks frantic.

“I had to wake you. The town has gone insane and everyone is in trouble. A chess computer arrived last night and challenged the chess bullies to a game of chess for control of the town. The chess bullies were fools. They played a game of chess against the computer for keeps, and they lost. Now the computer owns the town. Everything is bad.”

“You’re the only person who was sleeping when the computer came into town, so you’re the only one who the computer hasn’t defeated yet. You’re the town’s only hope of defeating the chess computer.”

“I know. We need to do something about that.

“Business person, what you mumbled while you were waking up gave me an idea: You don’t need to know about chess if you know about business and you know about analogies.”

“The chess computer is unbelievably good at chess, but you’ll have the upper hand if you can use your deep knowledge of business to have business insights about chess.”

“In order to defeat the chess computer, the key is to think of the game as an analogy to business. The key thing you must think is: Chess is just like business.”

“By visualizing chess as a business situation, you’ll be able to plan your next move by having a series of business insights.

“Okay. Are you ready to begin thinking about chess in terms of business insights? Are you ready to try to defeat the chess computer and save the town?”

“Let’s practice. Here’s an example chess position. It may seem hopeless, but you should be able to alter the position by having a business insight related to chess. Give it a shot.”

You have a sudden business insight: What if everything were different?

“Great!” says the Analogy Wizard. “You’ve altered the situation. Now try having another business insight to get the pieces back to their original positions.”

You have another business insight.

“You have the hang of it now: In this advanced mode of chess thought, business insights are how you win.”

You have an earth-shattering business insight: What if there were more?

This was a decisive business insight. You have arrived at a winning position and completed the tutorial.


We’re going to go play chess against the chess computer now. The computer is very good at chess, so you’ll need to keep having business insights until you see the business-chess concept you need to make an effective move.

Be patient, and always remember the three principles of chess.”

“First: Go for Checkmate, a position that looks like this.”

“Second: You must try to prevent Game Over, which is a position that looks like this.”

“Third, and most importantly: When you’re having analogical insights about chess, you must at all costs avoid thinking about the King of Legs. It is impossible to have any more insights after you think of the King of Legs, so if you start thinking about the King of Legs, your only move is to resign.”

“And that should be all you need to win. Got it?”

You and the Analogy Wizard go to the park, where the computer is waiting for its final challenger.

The defeated chess bullies look on anxiously.

The computer has the cold, confident air of a computer that has never lost a game of chess.

The Analogy Wizard offers an analogy: “In the bowling alley of life, love is the machine that retrieves the orbs of human striving, so that they may once more be hurled at the pins of suffering and cruelty.”

You sit down opposite the chess computer at one of the tables in the park. The game has begun.

Remember your training. What type of insight would you like to have about chess, in order to make your first move?

You think about chess in terms of boxing.

Chess, you think, is like a boxer who steps out of the mist.

Chess is like when a boxer approaches a chess piece from the mist.

Chess is like when a boxer stands on the chessboard and is victorious.

Your current idea is that chess is like boxing at the same time as business.

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