Coding is Like Chess

The Queen slides up to place the king in check. Knight takes queen. Bishop moves up. Checkmate.

If you are unfamiliar with the game and history of chess, then the above may seem just like words typed at random. But in the world of chess, the above highlights the final three moves of one of the most studied and famous games to ever be played. In 1851, chess icons Anderssen and Kieseritzky sat down to play a game together during a break at the first international chess tournament in London. Little did they both know at the time; this game would be sealed in the chess history books. In the “Immortal Game,” this match shows off the impressive skills of two chess masters going head-to-head and one being crowned the victor after sacrificing major pieces in order to secure the game ending checkmate. Chess is a game played with precision and caution. With the queen being the most powerful piece on the board, losing it is usually a big tilting point in the odds of winning the game. The Immortal Game is famous because the queen being taken was the key to winning the game. A rarity that is so uncommon, especially at the level both players were on, the match is still adored by players and game historians today.

You may not know how yet, but being a developer has many parallels to playing an intense game of chess. Now that you’re caught up to speed on the infamous Immortal Game, let’s discuss the similarities you may tackle in code.

The Similarities Between Chess and Coding

Creative sacrifices

Just like the Anderssen and Kieseritzky match, having to make sacrifices while coding may lead you to the victory you worked towards.

In code, using creativity and accepting new perspectives is almost a requirement in order to ascend to a top level in your field. Staring at error messages after exhausting your troubleshooting is something even lifelong developers experience every once in a while. Making the decision to take a step back and work towards a creative solution may be time costly. But it’s a tradeoff you may need to make in order to secure that victory and move forward with your finished code error free.

Critical thinking

Being a critical thinker as a developer is a trait that can’t be skipped over. Just like a master chess player. When it comes to the comparison between chess and code, the critical thinking element is where it is closest aligned. It’s the very thing that determines how you navigate into the end game.

In chess, a key quality you must have is the ability to switch between defense and offense instantly. In code, you must be working towards the finish line while also preparing for whatever unexpected hurdle that may pop up in the process. Having a critical thinking skillset in order to position yourself for the most success while switching between an “offense and defense” mentality is how you make it to your finish line and checkmate whatever unexpected happened along the way.

Learning curve

The first step of becoming a great chess player is understanding the very basics of how to play the game. Just like most things, the more you do something, the better you will slowly see a positive step forward in your ability to do it. After you play the game more, you move out of the lower skill of only having a basic understanding of how the pieces move, to being able to correctly plan attacks and positions. There is no difference between a chess piece and a programming language when you are starting out.

After you begin to understand the programming you’re learning, you will start to see the same type of progression one might see on the chess board. You no longer only have a basic understanding of the code. You now know how to use it. The more you code, the faster and more accurate you become.

The satisfying outcome

Facing a skilled opponent on a chess board and watching the clock tick down could get just about anyone’s heart rate up. But if you correctly navigate the pieces and beat the challenging match, then you get to walk away with that victorious dopamine and trophy.

Writing code at any level of expertise is a lot like facing a tough opponent in chess. It’s up to your skill and tenacity to outsmart the challenges presented to you. A lot goes into being able to create even the most basic creations out of code. If you successfully reach the end with functioning code, then you might as well have just reached the end game with your tough match. Getting to that digital finish line took skill, wit, and agility. No matter the complexity of what you’ve worked on – you won!

With chess having a very long history dating all the way back from the 16th century, it’s easy to assume the game has been completely dissected from the ground up hundreds of times through different strategies, opening moves, piece functionality, tournament studies, and much more. Even though there’s plenty of similarities between chess and coding, one thing is certain…coding has only been around for a fraction of the time chess has. Some may call programming giants such as Bill Gates or Alan Turing our version of what Bobby Fischer is to the chess world. But even with the powerful life changing technology fueled by the minds of these programmers, there’s still a lot left to go. The possibilities of code are endless. And with technology getting excitedly more advanced as each year goes by, becoming a developer now opens the door to playing a direct role in changing the future as we know it.

At devCodeCamp, chess may be something some of us like to do in our spare time. But our main focus has always, and will always, be helping to fill that industry demand with the next generation of exceptionally talented developers. Our online coding bootcamp takes people from all backgrounds and gives them the relevant skills they need in only a handful of weeks to launch a career in code. We are ready to hand you the knowledge, place it on the digital coding chess board, and teach you how to properly use it so you can be on your way of changing your life. Reach out now to learn more.