Learning to Play the Game

The best way to learn is through games. I credit Monopoly for leading me down the road of finance & analytics. Risk & chess instilled strategy from an early age.

Games offer a relaxed setting to learn valuable lessons. I picked up chess again and started from scratch. My skills are limited to beating my friends with no formal chess experience, but I noticed a few stages of progression.

 This traveling chess board has been on over 10+ trips and 4 countries. What started as a way to kill time on a plane, turned into a lesson in planning moves in life carefully.

This traveling chess board has been on over 10+ trips and 4 countries. What started as a way to kill time on a plane, turned into a lesson in planning moves in life carefully.

Stage 1 - Thinking Ahead

In the initial stages, I learned how to think a few steps ahead. This was time-consuming as I tried to think of every possible move. Often, I was caught off-guard from an attack that took multiple moves to setup.

Stage 2 – Building Intuition

After playing a few hundred games, I became more conscious about my opponent’s movements. I reacted to their moves and developed counter strategies. One of my favorite tactics was to look at the shape of how my opponent’s pieces were laid out and identify the weak points.   

Stage 3 – Executing a Strategy

Currently, I shape the board according to my strategy. I discovered this level by thinking about how my opponent perceives the board. The challenge lies in understanding how your opponent thinks and creating a plan around their mental fallacies. Do not forget the golden rule of poker: you play the opponent, not the cards.

Connection to Life

Beyond a few sessions of sipping bourbon and playing chess with friends, how could this relate to life? Swap out chess for a technical skill, let’s say analyzing data. From the start, it’s a battle learning the technical details. Gradually you build familiarity, knowing what each data set provides and how to unlock its secrets. In later periods, you start to learn how to shape the analysis to your advantage. After learning how to execute strategies, it becomes a quest to learn better strategies or in the professional world, find better ways to utilize your skill.  

Moral of the story, what may start as a technical skill becomes intuition through repetition, eventually leading toward mastery. But the progress toward mastery is only achieved if you’re paying attention and getting the reps.

Bonus

 My first monopoly analysis. I had memorized all the prices as a kid, but took it a step further in college creating a rudimentary analysis behind the relative value of each property. The analysis shows the number of times a player needs to land on a space to payback the initial investment cost. To no surprise boardwalk rules supreme, but the relative difference between each property mattered more than the gross value. 

My first monopoly analysis. I had memorized all the prices as a kid, but took it a step further in college creating a rudimentary analysis behind the relative value of each property. The analysis shows the number of times a player needs to land on a space to payback the initial investment cost. To no surprise boardwalk rules supreme, but the relative difference between each property mattered more than the gross value.