Chess and Strategy

In a West Wing episode, President Bartlett returns from a trip to India with chess sets. He challenges Toby and Sam to games, while simultaneously dealing with China's aggression in Taiwan. When Sam tries to guess the right solution, Bartlett responds "Look at the whole board".

Chess is a good example to understand what it means to be strategic in business, politics or any other aspect of life. 

To be a chess player, you need to first understand the rules, and the advantages and disadvantages of pieces and positions. This comes through learning, practice and reflection. 

To be a good chess player, you have to look at the whole board. You have to think about and use all the pieces and positions at your disposal, not just some of them. 

You have to think of multiple moves ahead to try and create advantages and ultimately, a win. You have to predict the opponent's responses, keeping in mind past behaviors, strengths and weaknesses. 

Things change - there are surprises and mistakes. You have to adapt to losses. 

You have to make tradeoffs and know when to sacrifice a piece for another advantage. 

In many aspects, strategy is more complex than chess. It isn't limited to 64 squares or few pieces that can do just a few moves and you can't see your opponents positions.