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Comparing Chess To Blogging In 5 Moves

Posted by on May 1, 2012

I’ve been playing chess in some fashion since I was 12 years old. I’m not going to say I’m good, but I will say that there are good players I’ve beaten every once in awhile and bad players I’ve lost to every once in awhile but, like pool, I did win a chess tournament when I was a kid, though nothing sanctioned or anything like that.

I guess that qualifies me to write a post comparing some aspects of chess to some aspects of blogging. After all, I’ve compared blogging to poker, a toaster oven, and Harry Potter. So why not, right? That and Sire dared me to. πŸ™‚ Here goes:

1. A big part of chess and blogging is about consistency.

With chess, there are moves you develop as your beginning that you’ll almost always do unless you’re very proficient at the game. You do that because what happens if you don’t is you end up losing to someone who’s been hoping you’ll do something stupid early so they can crush you.

In blogging, consistency means you establish how often you’re going to write and then you try to stick to it as much as possible. If you decide to alter things, you do so with both a practiced hand and by running your own version of analytics to see how it’s going. If you change up either by suddenly writing drastically less or a heck of a lot more your audience might not know how to react to it and thus your game isn’t as tight as you’d like it to be.

2. Every once in awhile you have to shake things up.

Whereas consistency is a good thing for you, if you’re practiced shaking things up here and there could work to your benefit. Back when Bobby Fischer beat Boris Spassky in 1972, one of the turning points early on was Fischer changing from what everyone knew was his opening move. Spassky was so thrown that he never made a move in the game and resigned.

In blogging, safe is nice and comfortable but people need to be inspired to want to come to see what you have to say next, and that doesn’t happen unless you shake things up from time to time. I wonder how many people thought I was going to write a 2,800 word post on being happy a few days ago, or knew I was going to tell a story about my battle with a wasp, which I won. πŸ™‚

3. Both chess and blogging are predicated on the concept of a good beginning, middle and end.

There are thousands of chess books dedicated only to opening moves; experts consider it that important. There are also thousands of books dedicated to what they call the “end game”. The middle offers millions of possible combinations, yet it’s those middles that result from the beginnings and lead to those ends.

In blogging, at least for me, the best posts are told like stories, and every good story has a great beginning, middle and end. The introduction usually tells people what’s coming, or in some fashion brings them into play. The middle is the really interesting part, the meat if you will, because hopefully the writer gets you engrossed in some fashion such that you can’t wait to get to the end. The end… well, often it’s kind of anticlimactic in blogging, but many will tell you that if you’re trying to make money then how you close is really important, the “call to action” if you will.

4. Going for the draw or storming the fortress.

Two months ago Mitch Allen and myself wrote a joint guest post on one of Vernessa Taylor’s properties titled This IS a Game. It’s Your Move, a look at small business from the perspective of chess, which is probably why I thought I’d already written a post here on chess. We were asked to talk about what we saw was our most important business lesson as related to chess. I stated that sometimes one has to go for the draw when one needs to find balance in what they’re doing if they’re not already on top of things. Mitch wrote that a player can’t go after their goal without some kind of plan as to how they’re going to win in attacking the fortress the other player sets up.

Blogging is kind of like that. Unless it’s a blog like this one that doesn’t have a niche, you almost can’t afford to blog without having some idea of what it is you’re planning. Now to be truthful, I have set myself up so I can write about anything I want to, but I do also have plans. For instance, you know about Black Web Friday; that is planned. You know I write mainly about blogging and social media; that’s planned. Almost every subject I write about on a consistent basis is part of a plan. I don’t deviate all that often from the plans for this blog. I expect that’s why people come back; even though they don’t know what I’m going to talk about next, they do know that there are places I’m not going to go; this is a safe zone, no matter what topic I address.

5. If you play enough chess or blog enough, you’ll get better and find your rhythm.

When I started playing chess against people who knew what they were doing, I was losing a lot of games in about 10 moves. That was embarrassing to say the least. These days I’m not so easy to beat, even if I still don’t win them all (or even most of them against Mitch; Sire and I are pretty much equal). Yet I’m not a pushover; I have my set number of moves I want to get to, and I usually get there if I play someone more than once.

With blogging, I don’t have a set number of words, but I do have a style I like to maintain. This blog is more than 4 years old now, and if you have the nerve to look at the early posts and compare them to the newer posts, you’ll see that I got better at it. The same goes for my business blog and my newsletter; time and practice makes you better at everything. And with both chess and blogging, you get to do it over and over, so you can’t help but get better.
 

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33 Comments »

Yeah, I agree that in writing blog you must be consistent enough inorder for you to avoid wrong turns. It should be maintained from the beginning ’til the end just like playing chess. Never quit too easily then so that you can be much more confident to become successful.
James Martin recently posted…London 2012 Takes ShapeMy Profile

May 1st, 2012 | 10:37 AM

Thanks James. Yes, definitely never quit too early.

May 1st, 2012 | 11:53 AM

Mitch, that was delightful! Your ending was very satisfying, too.

I’ve always enjoyed comparing chess to just about everything in life. Your take on blogging-as-chess is refreshing. The middle game is the heart of chess and our blog posts should be as adventurous!

Cheers,

Mitch
Mitchell Allen recently posted…BrainquakeMy Profile

May 1st, 2012 | 11:40 AM

Thanks Mitch; I was figuring you’d approve. Glad you liked the ending as well; way better than the way I ended our game the other day. lol

May 1st, 2012 | 11:54 AM

Hi Mitch,

I don’t know much about chess, but one of the top players in the world (I believe he is currently number 1) is from Norway. Magnus Karlsen. That’s what I know about chess πŸ™‚

But what you said made a lot of sense. And especially your last point. I’ve been blogging for years, and it took years to understand what I should be doing to have some sort of success.
Jens Berget recently posted…Four ways to optimize your website for organic link buildingMy Profile

May 1st, 2012 | 6:15 PM

Jens, the amazing thing is that there’s always something to learn in blogging, life and chess, which is actually a great thing because when we stop learning, we stop growing. And I saw Karlsen on 60 Minutes; fabulous talent.

May 2nd, 2012 | 11:32 PM

Hey Mitch, looks like you beat me to it πŸ˜‰

Even so I’m still going to do a post comparing chess to blogging, hopefully it won’t be that far away.

I have to agree that no matter what you do in life, the more you persist at it the better you will get. Too many people get frustrated in the early days of whatever project they take on giving up not knowing if only they pushed through the hurdles they could have found something in their life that they truly enjoyed.
Sire recently posted…How To Turn Your Blog Into A Cash MachineMy Profile

May 2nd, 2012 | 4:23 AM

Sire, can’t wait to see what you do with the topic. πŸ™‚ You and I plow along doing what we do and never give up. One day we’ll both be rich and still doing what we do because it’s also fun.

May 2nd, 2012 | 11:36 PM

Now that would be something wouldn’t it?
Sire recently posted…How To Get Your Visitors To Click A LinkMy Profile

May 4th, 2012 | 5:28 AM
Neil Butterfield:

Great analogy Mitch. I play chess too,although I am not that good. I do believe it helps me to think and strategize better so I love the analogy here between chess and blogging. Well done.
Neil Butterfield recently posted…Zinc Deficient: Can chocolate help?My Profile

May 2nd, 2012 | 6:49 AM

Thanks Neil. The funny thing is that I could be really good if I spent the time it takes on my moves before I make them. Though it’s been about 10 years now, I have never lost a game of chess in person when money was on the line. Otherwise, I like moving quickly, but I still think that overall I’m not so bad, and I’m definitely always learning another lesson.

May 2nd, 2012 | 11:38 PM

Honestly, Mitch I like this comparison much more than the other one with microwave. There is one thing about internet business – there are no shortcuts and consistency and good discipline are the keys.

May 2nd, 2012 | 7:20 AM

Carl, it wasn’t a microwave, it was a toaster oven; and you couldn’t have written that one. lol And yes, no shortcuts with internet businesses, or apparently with any other businesses either.

May 2nd, 2012 | 11:39 PM

Haha, yeah sorry I think coffee wasn’t working yet when I wrote the comment. Actually you are right again, there are no shortcuts for any kind of business, only hard work and knowledge.

May 3rd, 2012 | 6:31 AM

Shaking things up is always a good plan. I find myself being a bit more sarcastically witty these days. At first, I thought I would offend people, but I realized that as long as I was speaking the truth, people couldn’t get offended. I’ve even been commended for it.

So, change things around a bit and see what happens.
Marcie recently posted…You’re Invited to MJM Speakers’ Circle Open House on May 5thMy Profile

May 2nd, 2012 | 7:34 AM

Great stuff Marcie. However, in chess, if you’re not prepared for what can happen with a major change in tactic it can get you creamed. When playing white I always make the same move because I don’t know my opponent’s skill (well, I know Mitch’s, and thus I dare not try something different), but when playing black I can change up since I’m reacting more than pursuing. Sometimes I still get creamed, but other times it shakes things up and works in my favor. But when it comes to blogging, you just gotta be you; glad it’s working out for you.

May 2nd, 2012 | 11:43 PM
Mitchell Allen:

Ooh, a chance to extend the metaphor! πŸ™‚

Not daring to make new moves in chess, when you have the initiative, no less, is like staying on safe ground as a blogger.

You miss opportunities to grow as a player – and you miss opportunities to discover hidden talents as a blogger.

Mitch, what if you had played safe and never discussed doing video? What if you never tried different affiliate programs? The point is, not all experiments succeed but, you won’t know until you try.

(May I suggest 1. c3, English Opening? Might be fun…)

Cheers,

Mitch

May 3rd, 2012 | 8:33 AM

Mitch, I wondered if that would bring you back, and I already had my response ready because I knew that’s what you’d say. Thing is, I always knew I was going to do video because I do public speaking, so it was a no-brainer.

See, the overall thing is that playing it safe when you don’t know what you’re doing is smart, as I don’t believe one learns anything from taking risks when they don’t know how to calculate why something didn’t work, or where they’d go from there. Same with blogging actually; I think people need to find their voice first, along with their perceived audience, before shaking things up. Once there’s a comfort level, then they can decide on how to shake things up. The thing about chess is that even with the same opening playing white each time, the game goes off in weird directions; never played the same exact game twice in a row. That’s why it’s a fascinating game.

May 3rd, 2012 | 10:27 PM
Mitchell Allen:

Well, you do have good points but we all know stories of daring entrepreneurs. πŸ™‚

As for video, sure, you KNEW it was a no-brainer, but you still had to actually do that first one, right? That’s all I’m saying. Taking that chance, versus playing it safe. I’m not saying jump headlong off the cliff without a parachute, though: get the training, understand the risks and then go for it!

1. c4.

Cheers,

Mitch

May 4th, 2012 | 3:16 AM

Nope, not me! lol

May 4th, 2012 | 8:38 AM
Bella:

Let’s hope that I am better at blogging than in chess! I couldn’t win a game to save my life! πŸ™‚

But, of course, I see your point.

May 2nd, 2012 | 8:43 AM

Such a great post! I really like your point on the analogy between chess and blogging, when I was a student I’ve been a member of the university chess team and I totally admit it, chess could give so many useful experiences in the online marketing strategies.
Anna recently posted…Dental treatment – everyone needs it sooner or later {???}My Profile

May 2nd, 2012 | 3:39 PM

You played for your university Anna? I’m not sure my university had a chess team, but I was in the chess club in high school, which was really weird because I really had no idea what I was doing then. πŸ™‚

May 2nd, 2012 | 11:44 PM

Interesting analogy. There is also something to say about positioning as well, I think. In chess, it is optimal to control the middle and have the most potential for mobility. In blogging, it is important to position yourself on the sites/social media avenues that will give you the most exposure, and potential to move into new markets/get new viewers.

May 2nd, 2012 | 7:32 PM

Pretty good stuff Robert, and I like how you think. My friend Mitch keeps trying to get me to value the middle more in chess, and yet I get it from the standpoint of trying to get new visitors and traffic to one’s site by positioning yourself as an authority. Exposure certainly helps.

May 2nd, 2012 | 11:47 PM

Nice analogy. I would also add that a good chess player can visualize the game several steps ahead. The greatest chess players can visualize virtually the entire game. I think the same can be true of a great blogger. They have the foresight to plan several posts ahead of time as well as see the big picture as to where their blog is headed.
Richard recently posted…Choosing the Right Host for Your BlogMy Profile

May 3rd, 2012 | 12:19 AM

Good stuff Richard, although I’ll admit that I don’t always see all the posts ahead of time. I do with this blog strangely enough, and with my finance blog, but some of the others comes as they’re supposed to.

May 3rd, 2012 | 10:20 PM

Good comparison Mitch. It also points out why it’s so hard to become either a good chess player or a top blogger: the key is consistency… except for when you shake things up. Seeing patterns requires time in play. Knowing when to make changes and being able to predict the results is the difference between experience and blind stumbling. Thanks for sharing your insights.
Allan Douglas recently posted…Review Building an Author Platform that can Launch Anything: a Social Media Minibook.My Profile

May 3rd, 2012 | 6:15 AM

Glad you enjoyed the comparison Allan. I shake things up way more easily with blogging than I do with chess, although I have my moments. πŸ™‚ Still, I do see patterns in both, which is pretty neat.

May 3rd, 2012 | 10:22 PM

I wish I could say I share your experience with chess, but at some point I began buying and reading books about the game, and the more I studied, the worse I got. (It’s usually the other guy’s bishop that comes out of nowhere and kills my queen. Maybe I lack diagonal vision?) I like the ways in which you compared blogging to chess, especially the idea of setting up a beginning, middle, and end. Maybe that applies to most things in life.

By the way, Did Spassky really resign without making a move?
Charles Gulotta recently posted…Keeping in TouchMy Profile

May 3rd, 2012 | 9:58 AM

Charles, I never could figure out a single thing any of those advances chess books said. I did buy Chess for Dummies and picked up a couple of things there, which is a shame. lol And yes, that’s a true story about Spassky, as I watched the HBO special on Fischer about a month ago. I mean, imagine the pressure the guy was under, and he had studied almost every game Fischer had played, then Fischer goes and does that; dude cracked.

May 3rd, 2012 | 10:29 PM

I never thought that you could associate chess with blogging. Well done! I do agree with your analogy most especially on number 5. Constant blogging does improve the way you write and the way you want people to view things and also, it changes the way you express yourself.
Elena Anne recently posted…Organic Foods: Myth vs. FactMy Profile

May 3rd, 2012 | 10:57 AM

Thanks Elena Anne. I can pretty much find comparisons between blogging and anything if I wanted to, but if I did it too often suddenly it wouldn’t have any impact, let alone make any sense. Blogging in the end is like everything else; do it enough and you find your stride, which means you’ve gotten better. That’s always a good thing.

May 3rd, 2012 | 10:30 PM