Chess, Life and Happiness

Today, I’m glad to present to you a very special article. This time, it’s not written by me or any regular member of our RCA team.

The author is an RCA student, just like YOU. He wrote an interesting comment for one of the blog-posts. So I’ve asked the student, Luca, to extend his idea to an entire article. You can find the conversation in the comments section of this article.

About the author:

Name: Luca Valsecchi
LucaLuca Valsecchi is an 1826 ELO FIDE chess player. Apart from his beloved family, his main interest is music: he plays guitar and writes songs for a band called Ondealfa. He has a Master’s degree in electronic engineering and works for a global company.

Now you may read Luca’s article and enjoy the well-thought ideas about the interconnection of chess and life.


  • What are the deep connections between chess and real life?
  • Wouldn’t it be great if we could apply what we learn during our chess training to our other fields of interest?
  • How can chess bring more happiness into our life?

Let’s address these interesting topics straight away!


The second World Champion, Emanuel Lasker, was one of the first that drew a parallel between chess and life. He was an excellent chess player that achieved probably unsurpassed practical competitive results.
Emanuel Lasker
But he was also a mathematician and a philosopher, and he came to the conclusion that, in many respects, chess is an accurate model of the encounters we face of real life. Further, he wrote extensively on that in his main works Common Sense in Chess and Lasker’s Manual of Chess.

The links between chess and life are numerous, and exist on many levels. This is because chess is a multifaceted game, rich of different characters (the pieces and pawns), and very varied situations. During a well contested game, the ideas and skills of the players are put one against the other and the best are rewarded.

I personally look at a game of chess, even at a competitive level, as a healthy, enriching, and ultimately peaceful encounter between two people. Yes, there is a struggle, a competition, but it should always be a positive and fair one.
chess fight
The fact that chess mirrors life adds a lot to its practical value. It means that the methods that work in chess (for playing and for training) most likely work in real life, too, and this is a huge asset indeed!

Of course, one must learn and master the right methods first. Wrong methods will produce wrong results, and who would want to bring his/her weaknesses in chess playing over to real life? What are the right methods in chess?

Easy, the ones described in detail in the full offer of RCA courses! Now, let’s try to map some typical chess facts, principles, and skills on the vast realm of real life!


To win games and make progress in chess, we have to train and establish the attitude of self-confident, independent thinking. Generally speaking, we should become independent from pre-conceived opinions that we have accepted or are accepting from others without any personal criticism.

Once a friend of mine told me, in all seriousness, “Nimzowitsch had his system, I have mine!”. Now, as ridiculous and overstated as this was, it is a bold statement that goes in the right direction. Of course, we have to learn a lot of things from strong players, but to be able to find good moves in any position we literally have to build our own system.
chess thinkingConsistently, that same friend never trusts a move from a chess engine, even a 3300 ELO one. He would say: “He is drunk!” or something similar, and try to verify matters by himself; this is also a good approach.

During an over-the-board chess game, we must rely on and trust our ability to find adequate solutions in real time, without external help. The more such solutions are original, hidden, or unexpected, the more the chances are for us to win the game. To find them, we must be willing to put effort into searching in an objective way, analyzing the position, so to say, from scratch, with an open mind.

Note: you can get the premium video “My Thinking System” here!

This leaves no place for laziness. We should never go “the easy way” based on some unchecked assumptions, generalities, or authority’s opinions. For example, based on a generic assumption, we may enter into an opposite-colored bishop ending in order to draw a game.

Then we discover that, in this specific situation, our position is nevertheless lost for some quite evident reason. And perhaps our opponent saw just that and happily accepted entering into that same ending! In the same way, especially in chess books published in the pre-computer era, trusting blindly in what we read in print is often NOT very wise.

From my personal experience, I felt very proud when studying the following instructive position (found in Lasker’s Manual of Chess, p. 117, Dover edition). I found a little fault in it, which anyway does not detract from the beauty of this study.
By Troitzki: White to move and (almost!) win

Can you find the best move for White and calculate it till the end of the line? Please test your independent thinking process and then continue reading the article.

White wants to promote his pawns, while Black tries to stop them. The very nice tactical motive illustrated here is the mutual obstruction by the rook and the bishop: 1.c7 Bh3 2.bxa6 Bg4+ 3.Kc1 White must deny the move 3…Rc2
Black to play
3..Bf5? enabling the c2-square for the Black rook, but…

(3. … Rf1+! = I found that this move leads to a draw, see full analysis hereAlways look for forcing moves first!)

4.a7 Rc2+ 5.Kd1 Be4
White to play
6.Nc6 The rook on c2 and the bishop on e4 are interfering: when the knight is taken, the squares a8 and c8 cannot be controlled simultaneously.

6…Rxc6 (6…Bxc6 7.c8=Q+ and wins) 7.a8=Q and White wins!

In real life, independent thinking makes us different from all others. It also makes us less vulnerable to suggestions and manipulation from other people, in person or through the media that want us to do or behave as they wish.

Independent thinking is the only way to find innovative things, whether they be new concepts, new business opportunities, or works of art.

In life, as in chess, we have to find our own goals and the ways to achieve these goals; and for this, we have to become an independent thinker. Every time you see an obvious move or someone approaches and offers you something on a silver platter, just stop and think: “Hmm, wait a minute…”!
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The survey is very short and has only six simple questions. It will take you only two minutes to complete it.
 P.S. Stay tuned, as the second part of this article will be published in the following days! :) Additionally, feel free to write in the comments below your impressions of this article from Luca, an RCA student (someone just like YOU).
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