Chess as a Life Advantage- the Real Story
As a 22 year old who has been playing chess competitively for almost a decade, I have a very unique perspective on the affect that playing chess can have on one’s life and the various advantages that it provides. I decided today that I should probably write these down.
I would like to divide these advantages into two categories: external and internal. The advantages I want to emphasize are the external ones; they are direct, they are observable, and they are plainly undeniable. The internal advantages are likely the more important ones; most notably the effects that chess has been shown to have on one’s mental capacities. These advantages will be discussed in another article.
As a 4th year accounting major at Case Western Reserve University (I withhold from using the word “senior” because I’m sticking around for a Master’s program), the primary focus of the past few months has been recruitment. Of course this area comes with a lot of anxiety for some; the job market is somewhat poor and the fact that we’re in Cleveland is not exactly helpful. What was the result for me? I wound up getting four job offers for accounting internships from companies that hire over 80% of their interns for full time positions. Why is chess relevant? Because chess is directly responsible for every single one of these offers.
What are employers looking for when they are recruiting students? In addition to hard workers, their ideal candidates are analytical thinkers, leaders, and all-around nice guys. In my case, chess was a phenomenal tool across the board for displaying these. Analytical thinking? I’m a two-time state champion chess player. Leadership? I’m the president and captain of the chess club at CWRU. Likability? Well, I spend my weekends teaching chess to children. Case closed.
Of course, this is quite simplified and I have other things on my resume that are not relevant to chess. However, chess is the stronghold and clearly the thing that sets me apart from other candidates. When it comes to both college students applying for jobs and high school students applying to universities, extra-curricular activities play a significant role in the strength of a candidate. Chess has the potential to be the Harvard University of activities. However, it is often in the applicant’s hands in order to show this to the recruiters. My favorite interview spiel to give to recruiters is the all-encompassing nature of chess and how no other activities utilizes both the left brain’s calculative precision and the right brain’s creative and imaginative nature. Trust me, recruiters eat that stuff up (and rightfully so).
In case this evidence is not direct enough for the readers, I have two even more clear examples for you.
I was in an interview with a large regional accounting firm when the chess items came up. The recruiter thought for a few seconds and looked at me and asked “Do you know Dmitriy Berkovich?” Lights went off in my head. Yes, Dmitriy is one of the strongest chess players in Ohio (we’re talking over 2400) and I met him at a tournament a few years earlier. It turns out that he is also a tax manager with this accounting firm. This firm invited me to their second round interviews, when they actually brought Dmitriy down to have a conversation with me. Somewhat unsurprisingly, I got the job offer. My second example is a pretty good one too, but not as good of a story. I was in a 2nd round interview at a big Fortune 200 corporation when my interviewer told me that he played chess and was rated around 1800, spurring some chess-related conversations. Again, I got the offer. On a third occasion, I was being interviewed by a partner of a large accounting firm and chess came into the conversation. We were discussing chess as a tool to improve strategic thinking and whether or not this skill goes into other strategy games as well. This conversation led to the game of tic-tac-toe, possibly the simplest of all strategy games. I explained to my interviewer that I had entirely solved tic-tac-toe such that, if I move first, I can force a win after seven of my opponent’s eight legal moves. The result was us spending five minutes of interview time playing tic-tac-toe and my interviewer being very impressed with my solution. Again, I got the offer.
So this is what I have for the readers. A lot of evidence that chess is a behemoth among extracurricular activities seems overly theoretical. To me, there is nothing at all theoretical because I have lived it. Chess has been a life-changing activity and it continues to serve me to this day.