Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" is often compared to playing chess due to the strategic principles and tactics outlined in the book. Just as in chess, the goal of the book is to gain a strategic advantage over one's opponent and come out victorious.
In both chess and Sun Tzu's philosophy, understanding one's own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the opponent, is crucial. This allows for the development of a winning strategy and the ability to anticipate the opponent's moves.
We know Sun Tzu could not have played chess as his wisdom as general didn't start before 500 B.C. while chess began its way 1000 year later somewhere in 600 A.D. either in today's north India or Persia (today's Iran) yet we believe every chess player should read this book - The Art of War. There are couple of reasons why.
Art of Flexible War
Important aspect in both chess and the "Art of War" is the principle of flexibility. In chess, a player must be able to adjust their strategy as the game progresses and the opponent's moves become apparent. Similarly, Sun Tzu emphasizes the importance of adapting to changing circumstances on the battlefield, and being able to pivot to a new strategy if the original plan is not working.
Deception is also a key aspect in both chess and the "Art of War." In chess, a player may make a move that appears weak or inconsequential in order to trick the opponent into a false sense of security. Similarly, Sun Tzu advocates for the use of deception in battle, such as feigning retreat to lure the enemy into a trap.
Winning without Fighting
The concept of "winning without fighting" is another comparison between chess and the "Art of War." In chess, this can be accomplished through tactics such as forcing the opponent into a position where their options are limited, and they are eventually forced to surrender. In the same vein, Sun Tzu teaches that the ultimate goal of war should be to win without actually engaging in battle, such as by using diplomacy or subterfuge to achieve one's objectives.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
One final example of the similarities between chess and the "Art of War" is the importance of preparation. In chess, a player must carefully consider their moves and anticipate their opponent's responses in order to succeed. In the same way, Sun Tzu stresses the importance of thorough preparation for war, including intelligence gathering, training, and ensuring the troops are equipped for battle.
In conclusion, the principles and tactics outlined in Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" have a strong parallel to the strategies employed in the game of chess. Both require careful consideration of one's own strengths and weaknesses, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and the use of deception, preparation, and tactics to gain a strategic advantage and achieve victory.
You can order Sun Tzu's Art of War in almost every major book store and it's been translated to more than 20 major languages. You can also grab a free copy here.