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    Last week, I
    introduced the idea that
    we can learn many life
    skills from the popular
    game of chess. So, let
    us continue.

    When playing the game of chess
    properly, one doesn’t just ‘make a move.’
    One must have a plan. To make a move
    without a purpose is a waste of a tempo
    and a sure way to give an opponent the
    advantage. In the game of life this is
    certainly true. The successful Jew never
    coasts aimlessly through life. To the
    contrary, the smart person always has a
    plan and has goals.
    Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, zy”a, says that
    on the seder night we have the Table of
    Contents, “Kadeish, ur’chatz, karpas,
    yachatz…,” to teach us that a Jew should
    have objectives plotted out and know
    at all times what his aims and goals
    are. It also teaches us that we should
    always do things meaningfully, from the
    brachos that we say to the tefillin that we
    put on. It should always be done with

    Another great lesson is that the winning
    chess player doesn’t only think about his
    own plan of action. This is a recipe for

    disaster! While he is plotting a queen-
    side attack, he neglects to see that his

    opponent successfully has a mate in three
    on the king’s side of the board. The smart
    player always trains himself to think what
    the other person on the other side of the
    board is thinking about.
    This is an oh! so important lesson for
    marriage. Too often, one spouse only sees
    life from their own vantage point. They
    don’t stop to think how their partner is
    experiencing life. A good example of this
    is the wife who tells her husband that she
    wants to go out on motzoei Shabbos. Her
    husband responds, “After a long Shabbos
    you want to go out?” He doesn’t stop to
    think that while he was out on Friday night
    for shul, shabbos morning for shacharis
    and again for mincha and shalosh seudos,
    she was stuck in the house preparing,
    serving, and cleaning up, watching the
    children, and just starving to get outside
    a bit. The Mishna teaches, “Al tadin es
    chavercha ad shetagia bimkomo – Don’t

    judge your friend until
    you are in their shoes.”
    So, it is an important skill
    to be able to see things
    from the other person’s
    Another great discipline
    of chess is the importance
    of looking at the whole
    board. How often does
    a novice fall into the
    trap of having his bishop
    snatched by a queen with
    a clear path from all the
    way on the other side of
    the board? Looking at the whole picture
    is extremely important in life. As it says,
    “Hevei dan es kol ha’adam l’kaf zchus –
    Train yourself to judge the whole person
    to the side of merit.” If you can look
    at the whole person you might discern
    that he’s out of work, or he has a child
    off the derech, which will change your
    perspective on how he is behaving.
    The footmen of chess are the pawns. A
    feature of their mobility is that they can
    only move forward. They can never
    move back. Therefore, one must think
    carefully before advancing them. You
    can’t retreat if you are in trouble. This
    is a major lesson for life. Words spoken
    can never be fully rescinded. So, think
    carefully before saying something.
    Hurtful words can leave a lasting
    negative imprint upon the recipient.
    Rav Avigdor Miller in his Ten
    Commandments of Marriage said,
    “Never tell your spouse that you want
    a divorce.” He considered this so
    important for once said, it punctures the
    security and the safety of the couple in
    a terrible way. This is also true when
    dating. Look before you leap! For
    marriage is a long-term investment for
    this world and the Next World.
    In chess, the different pieces have
    different levels of strength. The pawn
    is worth one point for it has the most
    limited range. The bishop is worth three
    points. It commands a full diagonal,
    both backwards and forwards, but can
    never go on the other color. The rook
    is five points because, in a vertical and
    horizontal way, it controls both colors.
    The queen is worth the most points,
    a full nine, for it can go diagonally,
    horizontally, and vertically. We see from

    here that the more flexible a piece is, the
    more powerful it is. This is oh! so true in
    life. The more rigid a person is, the more
    limited they are. While the more flexible
    and adaptable a person is, the more likely
    they are to have successful and happy
    I remember I once was going to give a
    large shalom bayis shiur and I happened
    to meet up with Mr. Leifer, ztl, zya, who
    at the time was happily married for sixty
    years. I said to him, “I’m going to give
    a shiur about marriage. You’ve been
    doing it successfully for sixty years what
    advise can you give me to share with the
    people?” He answered me with a smile.
    “I’ll tell you in one word! Flexibility!”
    Having healthy elasticity with our mate
    allows us to sidestep much friction and
    discontent in our union.
    May we merit to implement these ideas
    in our lives, and may Hashem reward us
    with long life, good health, and everything
    (To be continued.)