Challenge and Response – Why Breaking the Rules may Backfire?

Have you ever tried playing a game of handicap chess with an older sibling or a friend by removing one of his/her chess pieces at the beginning of the game? Did you not enjoy seeing your opponent across the table squirm and crack his/her head in a futile attempt to negate the adverse effects of your material advantage?

In many ways, real life scenarios are sometimes like a game of handicap chess whereby the playing field is not always fair and square. Yet despite so, human beings have shown unlimited resilience despite being the underdog against the forces of nature and other human beings.

Penalization may sometimes backfire and instead become a motivating factor that results in innovation and adaption that more often than not benefit the individual or society under pressure. Friedrich Nietzsche summarizes this process clearer by stating, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

British Historian Arnold Toynbee stated in his book ‘A Study of History’ that contrary to popular believe, civilizations did not emerge in blissful and utopian like places. The banks of the Nile River was in olden days a swamp filled with marches. The ancient Egyptians had to learn irrigation to successfully overcome their geographical handicap.

Other civilizations like those of Angkor and Maya had to deal with a dense and unyielding jungle that threatened to swallow them whole should their inhabitants be found lacking in vigilance. The same goes for the civilizations in ancient China that had to cope with annual flooding of the Yellow river.

Athens which found its lands of Attica barren and harsh responded by maintaining a navy to transport food supplies to and fro from its colonies. The unintended effect was that Athens became a major sea faring superpower in ancient Greece. Sparta on the other hand, took on a similar challenge and turned its society into a militaristic armed camp that maintained a huge land force to control its large helot (slave) population.

Most of the time, the situation that poses a challenge to human beings forces a phenomena economists call ‘creative destruction’. Strong challenges forces human beings to allocate resources efficiently in order to survive. This process may sometimes happen at a subconscious level but may prove to greatly enhance the vitality of a society.

If you really want to improve in chess, try playing handicap chess.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: