Use these Lessons from the Game of Chess to Rebuild your Company While the Coronavirus Crisis Fades

by Barry Lenson, Writer for Tortal Blog  and Author


Do you want your company to come back strong after the coronavirus crisis?

If you do, we have a suggestion for you . . .

Manage your recovery like a game of chess

You don’t need to devote days to learning to play the game, enter tournaments or study games that grandmasters have played in the past. Although you can certainly do those things if you want, you can start by simply keeping some basic chess principles in mind.

You Need a Plan, But You Also Have to Make a Next Move

This is one practical beauty of the game of chess. In your mind, you have a picture of how the whole game will play out, but you also have to do something right now. In other words, you have to make a move. In chess, it could be to move a piece forward to establish a more powerful position for your side. It could be to take one of your opponent’s pieces, or even to sacrifice a piece of your own.

So, what will your next move be? Will you partner with another company, hire someone you need, or launch a new marketing plan? And where does your next move fit in your overall game plan?

Understand What You and Each of Your People Can Do

Each chess piece can move in certain ways and has unique strengths and limitations. Pawns move straight ahead but take other pieces diagonally. Bishops move diagonally, either forward or back. Knights move in an L-shaped pattern. Those are only a few examples.

You don’t need to know about how those chess pieces move to succeed in business, but it is good to think about the strengths, skills and limitations that each member of your team possesses. Start by thinking about yourself. Maybe you have a great idea for a product, but don’t know how to raise funds. Maybe your team includes great product developers, but you don’t have any experienced salespeople. So, where are you strongest? What key skills are you lacking? Who do you need to bring on board?

Get to Know the Opposition

Chess players sometimes enter competitions and sit down across the board from other players they do not know at all. But the higher the level of the competition is, the more competitors study the people they are playing against. They know a lot. What openings has that opponent used most often in the past, are there certain defenses he or she favors, and how has he or she won in the past? A player who understands an opponent has a better chance of predicting what he or she will do and coming out ahead.

So, how much do you know about your competitors? What have they done in the past? What are their greatest strengths and weaknesses? What are their preferred activities and methods? Who is on their team? Is their marketing much stronger than yours? How do your products or services compare? The more you know, the stronger your recovery will be.

Know Where You Are in the Game

Chess games are customarily divided into:

  • Openings, when each player makes first moves and establishes a position
  • Middle games, when each player builds a strong defensive and offensive structure on the board
  • End games, when the player who has established the strongest position moves to checkmate his or her opponent, who tries to defend

As you look at your business right now, what stage are you in? Are you just launching a product in the marketplace, attempting to solidify your competitive edge, trying to eliminate one of your competitors, or something else? What activities will work best at your current stage? Answering questions like those requires some keen business thinking. But you are up to that, aren’t you?

Define What Winning Will Look Like

Chess has a very clearly defined objective: a player wins when he or she checkmates an opponent. That happens when the opponent’s king is in check (meaning it can be taken by an opponent’s piece) and cannot escape check by moving to a different square.

So, what does winning mean for your enterprise? If you do not define it, how can you ever achieve it? You could be looking for a short-term strategic win like expanding operations into a new region. You could be trying to win a major victory by eliminating your chief competitor. But unless you know your goal, how are you ever going to get there?

The Limitations of Thinking Like a Chess Player . . .

We hope that today’s post has helped you discover strategies you can apply during your recovery. But we need to point out that despite those insights, there are limitations to thinking about your resurgence as though it were a chess game.

Chess, after all, is a game of war and its goal is to conquer an opponent. Cooperation doesn’t happen in chess. And we know that in the current climate, companies that succeed will often be those who establish synergies with others.




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