Pawns are the Soul of Chess

Listening to a podcast today I heard the following phrase “The pawns are the soul of chess.” I had never heard the phrase and I found it fascinating. The phrase comes from François-André Danican Philidor, a famous French chess player. Francois was one of the first to realize that pawns instead of being weak, almost throwaway, pieces were more important than the back row seemingly high-value pieces. I am no expert on chess but I love Francois’s thought concerning pawns. Many may love and concentrate on their queen, or have intricate plans for the use of their bishops and rooks, or love the power of their knights, but Francois insisted that “the winning or losing of the game depends entirely on (your pawns’) good or bad arrangement.” Apparently in chess, as in life, the little things are the most important.

2.3 Million Choices

This is why our small choices matter so much. winning or losing in life depends so much upon the good or bad arrangement of our many small choices. Those small choices when arranged properly add up to wonderful things. The Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed by methods that we still don’t completely understand, but the most likely scenario is that 30,000 workers through incredibly strenuous and monotonous labor moved and placed 2.3 million two to thirty ton blocks of stone. Nothing special other than the incredibly result of a lot of people pulling and working together.

Many years ago anytime our boys would leave the house Pam started telling them to “make wise choices”. Because, even though we can’t control everything about our lives, if we consistently “make wise choices” things go better in life and if we consistently make unwise choices then the opposite is true. Pawns may be the soul of chess but our small choices determine the soul of our lives.

This is true in faith:

  • small choices to forgive small things tend to lead to being able to forgive the really big things
  • small choices to serve in small ways tend to lead to being able to serve in big ways
  • small choices to pray in small ways prepares one to pray in big ways
  • etc, etc, etc

It is true in our families:

  • making consistent, small choices for our marriages tend to lead to healthier marriages.
  • parenting is all about small choices – uncles, aunts, and grandparents can do the big fun things, but the small choices that parents make define who the child will become (personal side note here, I personally think one of the best small choices you can make for your kids is a consistent bed time.)
  • Our families’ finances are all about small choices.

This is basically true of almost every aspect of our lives. The issue is that making consistently good small choices it much more difficult than making a good big choice once in a blue moon. The big choices come around much less frequently. The small choices come by every day, if not every hour. That is why they are so important. That why true servants serve in lots of little ways. True loving people love in lots of little ways. True leaders lead in lots of little ways. Etc. Etc.

Pawns are the soul of chess and our small choices determine the soul of our lives. So make wise small choices.

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