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The Power of Checkmate


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When comparing a couple of politicians, usually "our guy" vs. "their guy," using a chess vs. checkers metaphor is common.

Our guy is playing chess while the other guy is playing checkers.

This means our guy is thinking ahead a few moves.

While their guy is clumsily stumbling along one step at a time.

In movies, a common statement when the good guy finally beats the bad guy is to say, "checkmate."

Checkmate is known even to those who've never played chess.

It's the last move after several, when the good guy finally maneuvers that bad guy into an inescapable position.

In good guy vs. bad guy movies, chess metaphors are plentiful.

Even when chess is never mentioned, the idea of thinking several moves ahead is.

There's a fairly popular TV show about a rich hedge fund manager vs. a district attorney.

They are always battling each other and trying to outsmart each other.

In one scene, the hedge fund manager was talking to a young (and super brilliant) protege, who said something a little confusing.

Finally the hedge fund manager "got it" and understood.

He said, "You've already gamed this out, haven't you!"

Meaning the young protege had already thought several "moves" ahead and had anticipated all the potential moves by their opponents.

After considering her strategy, the hedge fund manager was very impressed.

The mathematics of this kind of thinking is called "game theory."

Even when talking about actual battles where there is expected to be tons of loss of life and property, the phrase, "game theory" is very appropriate.

One of the more stunning and absolutely brutal examples of game theory in action was during World War II, as shown during the movie, "Imitation Game."

The British scientists had cracked the Nazi "Enigma Code."

But then they realized a horrible problem.

Since it was still kind of early in the war, they didn't think it was a good idea to let the Nazis know they'd cracked the code.

Because if the Nazis knew that THEY knew, they would simply create a new code.

Then the British would have to start all over again.

So the British were in the horrible position of KNOWING where the Nazis were going to strike, and NOT able to do anything about it.

Essentially sacrificing short term losses, plenty of deaths, to later win the overall war.

They knew which ships were going to get attacked, but the BEST overall strategy was to LET THEM get attacked.

But this was critical to the Nazis defeat.

Which demonstrates the overall rules for success in the GAME of life.

Whoever has the LONGEST game, will win.

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