What chess means to me

Zalmy Muskal
3 min readDec 25, 2020

Today marks the seven-year anniversary of my signing up for is a site that pairs people from around the world together for lives games of chess. So I thought I would share some of my thoughts on what chess means to me.

I grew up with chess being in the house. My mother had bought my father a really nice set from Russia before they had even gotten married. I remember playing with the pieces well before I knew how to play the actual game. I don’t know when I first learned to play with my father but it was interesting how he taught me. He told me to always focus on the goal of checkmate and asked me after I moved any piece how it helped in that goal. This is how I learned the basic moves and grew to appreciate the complexity of building a strategy for the end of the game.

Going into yeshiva (Jewish secondary school) I brought a set with me and played pretty often. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me to learn that most of my friends were likewise encouraged by their parents to play the game. It was a few years later when I was studying in France that I signed up for I did not have a set with me and it was a way for me to play using my computer when I felt the urge. After returning stateside it would be several years before I went back to and playing online opponents. At the time I wasn’t aware that they also had an app. I really recommend it. My father and brothers got hooked on it as well once they checked it out. It still amazes me that whatever type of game I’d like to play; a fast one-minute game, a three-minute or five-minute game, or even a three-day game, there is almost always someone online across the globe that is ready to start a game with me.

For a long time, I avoided playing 1-minute games. My father and brothers played them all day long. About a year or two ago I decided to give it a go. I have been hooked on it and it has broadened my mind by exposing it to so many games. But I haven’t supplemented it with longer games and I feel that this has been a detriment to my development of the overall game skills.

I have found that playing chess and developing strategies against my opponent has been a tremendous asset to overcoming obstacles and problem solving through life and coding. Similar rules tend to apply.

First, always stay focused on the end-game. Remember why you began doing what you are doing and don’t get side-tracked by all of the fancy moves you see. Second, learn the moves of the players and pieces very well. Always know what is possible, even if you don’t plan on using the outlandish moves. You never know when out-of-the-box thinking will become handy. Three, remember that if you don’t win the game today, there’s always another person somewhere in the world waiting eagerly to play just the same exact game that you want to at the exact same time that you want to. You just have to find them! As always happy coding!