The Insignificant Pawn
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Growing up, chess was one of the board games I absolutely loved.
What appealed to me most about this game was that it truly required you to think several moves ahead.
A seemingly innocuous move made by your opponent could in actuality initiate a trap that only gets sprung several moves later when it is too late to maneuver out of.
Every move creates a vast array of potential countermoves and it is this complexity that appeals to my competitive nature.
The game was so instrumental in my childhood that as an adult I have purchased some truly ornate/collector chess sets as keepsakes.
As more and more of the younger generations become glued to their smartphones playing games like Fortnite or whatever the latest video gaming fad is, I felt that this classic board game was in danger of truly being lost by the wayside.
I therefore felt great pride when I saw my daughter develop a keen interest in chess and began approaching me to not only teach her but to play against her.
Now I admit I am not one of those parents who just lets their child win.
Well, almost always.
When my daughter was around 3 years old I remember playing a boxing game with her on the Nintendo Wii.
I remember taking it really easy and basically allowing her to knock me out (I believe it was an uppercut that finished me).
My onscreen persona flew upwards and backwards and landed on the floor of the ring with a thud.
She turned to me, and, instead of happiness, there were tears welling up in her eyes.
She blubbered, “Oh no! I hurt daddy!” and started bawling.
(To her defense the avatar or “Mii” I created for me was quite realistic and a great cartoon doppelganger of me.)
It absolutely warmed my heart.
But nowadays, since she is much older, the play it easy on me card gets tossed out.
If you challenge me to a game, you will get my best effort.
I am not going to imply that I am a top ranked chess player, but I would place myself solidly in the above average league.
So in the beginning my daughter would quickly find herself in checkmate time and time again.
Another proud papa moment for me was that instead of getting discouraged to the point of just never wanting to play again, she continued to subject herself to my chess prowess and soon, with time, she began countering the common moves I would employ.
What was once an easy game for me started getting elevated to competitive levels that I haven’t experienced since I was in high school.
However there is still one aspect of her game that I still am able to exploit for now (I am afraid soon she will adapt to this as well and force me to think even harder).
Her main weakness?
Her regards to the pawn.
Yes, the insignificant pawn.
In the rules of chess each chess piece is given a relative value, with the lowly pawn possessing a target value of 1 point.
Why focus on such an inconsequential piece when there are higher value targets to attack?
But, alas, this line of thinking has gotten her into serious trouble.
I am one of those chess players that actually places a high value on the pawn, those little foot soldiers placed on the battlefield of chess.
Not only are they great assets to use defensively, they can be invaluable, as exemplified by my favorite offensive chess move, “The Promotion.”
For those not too familiar with chess, if one of these insignificant pawns can indeed make it across the battlefield unscathed to the very last row, it is entitled to a promotion.
Essentially the chess player can then promote that pawn into any piece, captured or not.
Typically this results in the pawn being promoted to a queen.
Having two queens on the board playing for you vastly tilts the game in your favor.
In fact I have gone quite far to drive home this point with my daughter.
In one particular game I ended up promoting two pawns, resulting in three queens circling her hapless king before he soon fell (I could have easily have finished him off with two queens but since the other pawn was so close to the finish line I couldn’t help myself).
Now with this website being in the personal finance niche, I would be remiss if I did not try and bring some sort of financial tie-in with this post.
In this case it is quite easy to do so.
Too often we see others that are ahead of us financially and easily get discouraged, for we feel like we are just an insignificant pawn while they are living as a king or queen:
- My networth is not as high as theirs.
- My income pales in comparison to theirs.
- My debt is so much more than theirs.
The comparisons can go on and on.
However, like the “lowly” chess pawn in my above example, if we carefully take one step/move at a time, avoiding dangers along the way, we soon will find ourselves in a position to be promoted to the ultimate piece, which, in the game of life, is financial independence.
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