Love of Chess

Why I love chess, and why you should too

Love of Chess and the attributes of a good risk manager

Why I love chess, and why you should too

The Love of Chess and the attributes of a good risk manager… Patience, strategic thinking, calmness under pressure; not just the attributes of a good risk manager but also what I fail to deploy when playing chess. However, I am learning, and since the start of the first lockdown back in May I have been slowly improving, one captured pawn at a time.

Put simply, chess is the greatest game on earth. And chess is booming. With social isolation comes digital connection and a huge growth in online players. And with Netflix’s Queen’s Gambit introducing chess to a whole new audience, I would like to extend an invitation to join the game, if you haven’t already.

Like our early mammalian past, slowly emerging from the undergrowth, the brawny and mindless now extinct, the thinking beings are flourishing in their wake. The nerds are finally on top.

The human touch of a good risk manager

There are the mechanical opening sequences; the human touch of finding an incisive move, or more regularly in my case, blundering a face-palming queen sacrifice. Defeat is painful; but victory never fails to put a smile on your face. However, it is seeing yourself slowly improve where the real satisfaction resides. Marginal improvement needs marginal failures. Failure is inevitable. Failure is necessary. A new position, a clever manoeuvre by your opponent. Fool me once, fool me twice. But with each game, armed with some patience and humility, you can slowly incorporate your missteps and tactical errors, and also good play from your opponents, into your future games. It is machine-learning, on a human scale. And like climbing a mountain you can see how far you’ve come.

Unless your name is Magnus Carlsen, the world’s best rated player, everyone has a win ratio hovering around 50%. This is because of the matching algorithms on online platforms, where you are assigned a rating that will match you with players of a similar standard. As you win you get matched with marginally better players, slowly climbing the summit, or finding the level that is right for you. As a complete beginner you will win the same number of games as someone in the world top-ten. Chess is open to players of all levels and is fun and inclusive from the very first game.

However, an important disclaimer; chess is violent. It sometimes bordering on the sadistic as you slowly encircle a defenceless king, with regicide soon to follow. Or a gruelling war of tactical attrition of two evenly matched players; the march towards battle, the trench warfare, the execution of prisoners, or an uneasy final truce.

Chess, a game for the sporting purists

The love of chess is also a game for the sporting purists – the attributes of a good risk manager. There are no refereeing decisions, no var off-side calls, no debate. When you lose, your defeat is categorical. The rulebook does not have interpretations. There are no area codes. There are no carbon-fibre chassis, no oligarch owners, no barriers to entry. And Beth Harmon aside, no widespread doping. In essence, chess is the purest form of competition and sport. And with the best of competition, chess channels our primal instincts into a constructive and elegant expression; your inner caveperson and higher faculties all along for the ride.

With the festive period fast-approaching, I hope we get some time to relax and decompress after a very challenging year, and what better way than a game of chess with family and friends? The permanence and calm of the stone carved pieces, the timelessness of 500 year old game; a reminder of being present in the moment in our fast-moving lives.

Operational Risk minded defensive

Victory does not come from the roll of a dice, or a dystopian property empire, your family members grown down into rental servitude. Over the chequered board, victory is honourable; defeat is dignified.  And for those budding Beth Harmons (excluding the extra-curricular), chess can be a opportunity to connect, with the added benefit of being a more nutritional alternative to likes of Tic-Toc, Fortnite, Minecraft, or whatever sugary pursuit is being served up by the app store.


The parallels with navigating and building a career in Risk management maybe a stretch; however is the most aggressive opening such as Evans Gambit akin trying to take a derivative pricing role with the hope of an early move to front office?  Compared to more solid Operational Risk minded defensive opening such as Alekhine Defence?


It may or may not help you with your career in Risk Management, however I invite you, over this coming Christmas period and beyond, to join the game. I hope my moves have been well-thought through, the pieces well-orchestrated and I’ve achieved the goal of passing on the chess bug. If you want to learn more about chess then check out this link