• Eashan Rijhwani

Life is a Game of Chess

To fulfill my dream of becoming a doctor, I had to give an entrance exam, an entrance exam considered to be one of the toughest in the country, an exam which will pave the path for 80,000 medical aspirants into various medical colleges, out of a staggering 1.6 million people who write it. Because of how competitive it is, aspirants often take ‘coaching’ from various institutes. I took it too, for almost two years before I was going to write the exam. I had to give up my school life, my social life and various other interests I had. They weren’t very pleasant, those two years, but they did teach me a lot of things and I hope I can share some with all of you.

Firstly, I learnt that you aren’t obliged to join and go along with the crowd if you don’t want to do it. Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it, and I think that’s what happened to me, I just got lost amidst the whole competitive and pressured coaching environment and forgot the reason why I had chosen to pursue medicine in the first place. It was like throwing water on fire. So always remember to be YOU, do things which YOU are comfortable with and not which the society is comfortable with you doing.

Secondly, I learnt that sometimes the best thing you can do is share your problems with someone. The exam I was supposed to write after preparing for two years got postponed 3 times due to the COVID outbreak and that phase was probably the worst personally because it just seemed the studying never stopped, with the pressure of the exam still on top. And I didn’t know what to do, I repelled my books and my mind didn’t seem in the right place, which was affecting not only me but also people around me. I am introverted by nature and as much as I didn’t want to do it at first, talking to my parents about it was probably the best thing I did. What I’m trying to say is that sometimes, we do need a little bit of help, whether that means family, friends or just people who empathize. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and there’s nothing wrong with helping others too. At the end of the day, we all are one, we all face problems and we all need a little help with it sometimes.

Life is like a game of Chess. I love playing chess and I consider myself a decent player too, and the parallels are amazing. In chess when your opponent is on the offensive, you have two options. One is to play defensive, calm things down, retreat your forces, analyze the situation, subdue the attack and make plans thereafter. The other option is, well, to return offence with the offence, you fight back. Both these options are okay of course, depending on your personality. However, sometimes both these options fail because your opponent’s attack was stronger and you lose the game. And so, when you analyze the game with help from a computer, it tells you how you could have defended better, or countered better, and you learn. It’s the exact same thing with life.

When life throws stuff at you, as humans, we either counter back or we get defensive, and if you aren’t able to, just like how we got help in the chess game, we can ask for someone’s help here too, be it family, friends, or even some stranger who’s playing this game as well, a peer. This is one place chess helped me a lot, to realize that it’s a game of strategy, offence and defence. You’ll win some, you’ll lose some but you will always be given an opportunity and the same reflects in life. The only difference between chess and life is that in chess, you get to rearrange and start a completely new game but in life, we are playing a long game and so it’s wise to seek help wherever needed and progress forwards.

Lastly, I have learnt that accepting a situation or problem or emotion is far better than running away from it. Running away from a problem will only get you so far until it catches you again but once you’ve accepted it and decided to face it head-to-head, it no longer bothers you. This may sound counterintuitive but accepting the problem or a feeling that bothers you in hindsight, detaches you from that it, which is what meditation revolves around. It is not detachment by letting go, it is detachment by taking in.

In the end, I would like to say that don’t underestimate the change you can bring about in someone’s life. Reach out to someone who might need a lift and don’t hesitate to ask if you need one.