Chess and Checkers

When our daughters were young, Darlene and I often enjoyed taking them for a meal at our local Cracker Barrel restaurant. And no excursion was complete unless we payed checkers near the fireplace.

I would usually let them win when they were younger, but as they grew older, and became more sagacious in their moves, I had to, in mental fullness, enter into the contest if I wanted a chance of beating them - and I often ended up on the losing side!

When I was a boy, I was introduced to the game by my cousins. They crushed me at first, but then I got better as I understood the moves and strategy. Just about the time I felt I had mastered the art of checkers, however, I was initiated into the game of chess.  

Wow! I had no idea that the two games played on the same board, could be so different. All of a sudden, I entered a whole new world of strategy. 

Think about it. What is the biggest difference between checkers and chess? It’s the pieces. Anyone who wants to win in chess has to first learn how each piece moves—from the pawn, to the rook, to the knight, to the queen and king. 

Once I understood the ability of each chess piece, I could plan a strategy to win the game. Bobby Fisher, the great chess champion, once said, “Winning in this game is all a matter of understanding how to capitalize on the strengths of each piece and timing their moves just right.” 

This is a picture of good leadership. Great leaders understand that you can’t get the best out of people by playing “checkers” with them—treating them all alike, expecting the same things out of each of them, handling them like some generic product on a shelf.

Just like in chess, great leaders discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it.