Chess as a struggle of two wills

The essence of chess is a struggle between two independent and irreconcilable wills, each trying to impose itself on the other. As Karl von Klausewitz put it in his venerable book on war strategy, Vom Kriege, it’s like two wrestlers locked in a hold, each exerting force and counterforce to try to throw the other.

Human will, instilled through your leadership over your chess troops, is the driving force for success in chess. The means of chess war is application of force, the form of organized and coordinated action of your chessmen which pose threats to the enemy and force him to do your will. As in all clashes of interest between two parties, you must act from the position of strength to get things your way and win. It’s a universal law all species obey for survival. To get food; to capture and control territory; or to protect it.

Physical and mental forces of a battle

This struggle is characterized by the interaction of physical and mental forces. Your chess pieces possess that necessary critical capability, the power, to help achieve your aim. Their role is twofold. For one thing, they provide combat power for attack. Secondly, they are used for defensive purposes.

The fundamental question is how you use your mental powers to lead your troops successfully in a chess battle. To wage the war effectively you need to grasp complex battlefield situations. As a brilliant general you need coup d’oeil, or power of the glance, an ability to immediately see and make sense of the battlefield in order to be able to make evaluations, calculations, and decisions. You need to plan tactics and strategies.

How do you do that? How do you decode the meaning of the situation on the chessboard? And how you make your decisions by encoding that understanding into your next move?

Chess has its DNA? Really how come?

Key Situation, chess art by Samuel Bak. What is the key to the situation? Perhaps, there is a secret code?


We use codes everyday. A code is a rule for converting a piece of information (for example, a letter, word, phrase, or gesture) into another form or representation.

All languages and writing systems are codes for human thought and ideas. Musical score is the way to encode music. Braille system is a method for blind people to read, based on tactile codes. In chess we have our own code system, the chess notation,  to record moves and games.

But there’s another code system in chess that we are mostly unaware of. And this one is vitally important for you to survive and prevail in chess. What is it?

Genetic code

To get there let’s first take a look at DNA’s alphabet to make a useful analogy for chess (as you know, our brain works by analogy and metaphor). Alphabets are also codes and DNA’s alphabet is written in only four letters, A, C, T and G. Genetic code is a set of rules by which information encoded in DNA sequence is translated into proteins by living cells. In other words, DNA code contains instructions for making proteins your body needs for survival.

In our cells, proteins are workforce – they get everything done. They break down food to release energy. They organize transport of chemicals between cells.

On the other hand, proteins are the building blocks for your body structure. In the same way a wall is made of bricks, your body is mostly made of proteins.

Now let me ask you this, what is the workforce in chess? Your chessmen. They get things done. They get everything done for you. They possess the power, the force, as the critical capability for your attack (through power effect – see more under basic piece effects here).

Equally important, through cooperation and integration of forces your pieces represent building blocks for creating a strong protective structure your army needs for defense (through body effect).

DNA chemistry and structure of chess

Knowledgeable, chess art by Samuel Bak. You don’t need to read all these books. You just need to read 4 letters (A, P, R, B) properly to get most of the meaning in chess

Back to our question, how can you grasp complex battlefield situations made from intricate interplay of two armies locked in a hold, for you to wage a winning chess war? How do you develop and use that powerful battlefield vision that is the most prized asset of the brilliant war general?

Chess code

Well, in pretty much the same fashion living cells use genetic code for making proteins, you should use chess code for your pieces to become useful and be managed successfully. You need to train your mind’s eye to read the chess alphabet written in only four letters: A(ttack), P(rotection), R(estriction) and B(locking).

As, Ps, Rs and Bs are written there in every position on the chessboard for you to decode. Cognitive science says it is a basic perceptual process of interpreting incoming stimuli, or converting relatively objective sensory input (e.g., current spacial and functional interaction of pieces on the board as coded in the language of As, Ps, Rs, and Bs) into subjectively meaningful experience.

And knowing the alphabet you will be able to issue the right instructions to your troops (when to attack, or where to protect), very much the same way as DNA issues instructions for making proteins that do every job in your body.

BEEF UP YOUR GAME!! by learning the chess alphabet as early as possible (for best results in your chess kindergarten) and you will read any chess position like you are reading a book without being aware of individual letters in it – but meaning and ideas!!

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