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Day 249 – Small Advantages Accumulate

I have been watching 8 high-rated chess players battle it out at Temecula Chess Club this weekend. There has been some excitement and a few dramatic moments. Last night, there was a rook sacrifice to break open a position against the opponent King in the game with John Bryant and Gabriel Eidelman. I know most people would consider this similar to watching Paint Dry, but for those of us who love chess, it is entertaining to watch players at this level battle it out.

As I have been watching and playing through the games, I have tried to guess what move I would make if I were in that position. Sometimes, I select the same move, but most of the time, there is something going on that I do not understand. Thinking through this carefully this morning, it occurred to me that every 2 – 5 moves or so, there is an intense struggle going on to win a really small advantage, especially in the first 40 moves of the game. Now that I look more carefully, I see that subtle advantage that is one. Putting a piece on an important square, securing a diagonal, gaining a slight amount of space.

This led me to a rather profound thought about our lives. Small advantages that we accumulate over the course of our lives eventually total a clear strategic advantage over others. Now, that makes life sound like a competition, and maybe that is where the analogy breaks down. However, if you look at areas in your life where you need to perform and achieve results, then the chase is not to win big, but rather win small frequently. Each small win accumulates, just like in a chess game.

Of course, I have also noticed how quickly you can erase all your advantages. One blunder or big setback can quickly equalize any advantages that you have built over time. This is a good reminder that you still need to be sure that you do not do stupid things! This is also a reminder that large, sweeping bids for great wins are usually not successful. In most cases, we win over time, a long process of accumulation where there comes a point where we have built such a sizable advantage that our success is inevitable.

Rare is the moment in life where a dramatic win occurs with a brilliant move like I saw in this one chess game last night. Usually our wins come through the process of accumulation, each small success after another.

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