Football season is underway, and my girlfriend (excuse me, fiancée) just doesn’t understand it.
I grew up in a sports family, including football. My dad reminds me how I was born 19 minutes before a New York Jets game. My godfather got me a New York Giants shirt when I was only a month old. Football, for all its problems, was entrenched in my family.
My fiancée didn’t get that when we started dating in December. Granted, I wasn’t obsessed with it. Yet, I told her she didn’t have to watch games with me. She did end up seeing the Giants play the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium with me, my dad and nephew. She had fun, even though her first game was far from competitive.
Nearly nine months later, she asked me a question out of the blue: is football like chess?
I admit I was stumped. I did my best but had more time to think about it. In many ways, it is. Yet, it’s not similar in others.
No player will move exactly like chess pieces. Rooks move vertically and horizontally. Knights move in the shape of the letter L. Bishops move diagonally. The Queen can move anywhere and is the strongest chess piece there. That’s not even including the rules of the game.
Relating chess to football is no easy feat, but there are some similarities. Let’s break down each chess part in terms of football players.
The pawns are the first line of defense and offense for each side of chess. It makes sense that the pawns are the offensive and defensive lines, respectively. Those on the line can intercept and recover the football and become something more, like pawns when they cross the other side.
The pawns on the defensive side protect the end zone, while the pawns on the offensive line protect either the quarterback or kicker when the opportunity presents itself.
Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, Cornerbacks, and Safeties aren’t just contained to some chess pieces. They, like the Queen, can move in any direction. A wide receiver can run an L-shaped path but can then cut diagonally. Corners can do the same.
Who would be the Queen in this scenario? Technically, that’s the running back.
The running back is still the most valuable role in football today. Granted, there are plenty of wide receivers that get the glory. However, there aren’t many great running backs right now. That’s insane considering the running back can run with the ball and become a receiver when needed.
Why else do you think great teams have great running game strategies as well as great receivers?
Having a great offensive core makes a football team dangerous, and they can make defenses exhausted when driving down the field. Chess is all about a mental strategy that uses these pieces to put opponents on their toes.
Hmmm…perhaps they are too similar after all.
Regardless, if you have any chess players interested in football or vice versa, use this. You’d be surprised how fast they’ll understand the sport of football or the game of chess.
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