Blogs,  Chess

Chess – Strategy – Aikido

Bringing three disciplines together

Study the past if you would define the future.” Confucius

As I briefly mentioned of my chess career until today, at my previous blog, this time I would like to set the focus on the future. I will first dwell on the word strategy, than mention on two disciplines that I devoted more than twenty years separately, and finally the way I approach chess currently. 

Although we develop strategic plans and tactics in our business and personal life, we hardly know what the term “strategy” means and where does it come from. Etymologically it originates from ancient Greek: “The word stratēgos refers to ‘generalship’ and describes the art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle.”[1] Nowadays it is used independent of this military context almost in every area ranging from sports to politics. I don’t see any harm on it as long as it is used in the correct sense, which is fundamentally achieving a set of goals with limited resources and get ahead of your opponents through a challenge. 

Two disciplines that I know throughly, Chess and Aikido, are so tangled with the notion of strategy, it is impossible to learn one without learning the other actually. And even when it is done, it is than learnt not by the core principals, but just superficially or as a free time activity. These disciplines consider the strength, weakness, opportunities and threats of your own as well as your contestants; within the given static conditions and adaptation of your strategy to the change of time and circumstances. And these two disciplines make it in such an eloquent way, the process and results do not only function mechanically perfect, but also look aesthetically smooth with the touch of art. Therefore strategy in this sense was always a strong pillar in my life, either in mental (Chess) or physical form (Aikido), and it will always be. The good thing is that, I managed to bring these three spheres together, unfortunately only after long years of education and training. I have mastered chess, aikido and strategy disciplines throughly, yet I feel like I am just at the beginning. I am not a master, but just a student in the right path.   

Considering these essentials, I would like to link them now to my future chess perspective. Built on inadequate conditions and self learning, as well as after long years of break, I have restarted to play chess in 2017 in Germany, but this time with a completely different attitude. At this point it is to me not a hobby or a professional occupation as before, but rather a strategic discipline that requires professional effort.

As I started to play here in regional chess division I have immediately realised that German League System is very well organised and strongest in the world. All the famous and high-ranked players of the world compete with each other here at the top level. I also compete in the same system, that’s correct; but literally just at the opposite-end. And I do not compete for titles or awards, but proofing that I do have better strategies. I believe that we must always improve ourselves, and I like the way that in chess everything is so precisely calculated. Even before a game starts, all possible three results can be calculated with regard to your and opponents rating. There can be always reasons and explanations for failure, but in chess there is no room for excuses. And though chance factor also exists in chess, you can’t rely on it at your every game, but solely to your strategies. Therefore I had to make an objective evaluation and set targets that match my expectations. But let us keep that topic also to another article and conclude this one with a couple of good advices:

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Strategy is style of thinking, a conscious and deliberate process, an intensive implementation system, the science of insuring future success.” Pete Johnson 


Ergun UNUTMAZ, 28.07.2019


[1] “Strateji” adlı kitaptaki tanımı “Larousse” sözlüğündeki etimolojik açıklama ile birleştirerek kendimce oluşturduğum bir tanımdır. Söz konusu değerli kitap için ilerde yorumlar yazacağım, ancak merak edenler için kitabın künyesi şöyledir: Lawrence Freedman, Alfa Basım Yayım Dağıtım San. ve Tic. Ltd. Şti., Ağustos 2018, İstanbul.