Rethinking Chess and Work

Ultimately, what separates a winner from a loser at the grandmaster level is the willingness to do the unthinkable. A brilliant strategy is, certainly, a matter of intelligence, but intelligence without audaciousness is not enough. Given the opportunity, I must have the guts to explode the game, to upend my opponent's thinking and, in so doing, unnerve him. So it is in business: One does not succeed by sticking to convention. When your opponent can easily anticipate every move you make, your strategy deteriorates and becomes commoditized.

—Garry Kasparov

You probably haven't heard of the soon-to-be 24-year-old Magnus Carlsen. He is perhaps one of the few world champions that many people have never heard of. By most accounts Carlsen is the world's greatest chess player alive (and perhaps even dead). The assumption is and always has been that chess is just a board game but it is indeed a mental and physical battle that can last for many hours as players contemplate infinite calculations on the board. Consider that there are more possible moves in a game of chess than there are atoms in the entire universe or seconds that have elapsed since the Big Bang. Now imagine how challenging it is to calculate through all of the possible combinations to make the next best move; clearly it's impossible for any human to consider all the possible moves. Hopefully this gives you some perspective as to how tough of a “game” chess can be.

Many people are ...

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