Maceo Z. Keeling, Business Strategist and CEO of Asheville Business Accelerator. Photo: Urban News

Maceo Z. Keeling, Business Strategist and CEO of Asheville Business Accelerator. Photo: Urban News

Checkers or Chess

Maceo Z. Keeling, Business Strategist and CEO of Asheville Business Accelerator. Photo: Urban News
Maceo Z. Keeling, Business Strategist and CEO of Asheville Business Accelerator. Photo: Urban News
The Conscious Corner by Maceo Z. Keeling, Sr. –

You may ask which game is harder.

I play both, and I can tell you that they are equally challenging. A chess Grand Master said, “The game of chess is like looking across a vast ocean.” A checkers Grand Master (yes, they have them) described checkers as “like looking in to a deep well.”

One funny thing about checkers is than kids can play it—and the learning curve is not too steep before you can enjoy playing at a basic level. Chess, on the other hand, does require a little bit more of an investment up front just to learn how to move the pieces. In both cases the games can be played at a high level and prove very challenging.

The primary differences between the games are the number of pieces, their shapes, and how they move around the board. Both games share the same board—a “checkerboard” pattern”—but they are very different in how they flow. They are both difficult, elegant games, but chess has more pieces and a greater variety of moves—and therefore more possibilities.

I never played well enough to take advantage of having the first move. But because both games are combative with both sides seeking power, there is an advantage when you have the benefit of the first move to advance your strategy.

Chess pieces have more options to move than checkers. Pawns move forward only; all other pieces can go forward, back, or obliquely. Bishops move diagonally, rooks horizontally or vertically, knights two-up and one-across, pawns and the king one space at a time (except each pawn’s first move), and the queen up, back, diagonally, across, the length of the entire board. With so many pieces, chess offers more options and more resources than checkers.

In both games, each player controls only his own pieces—after all, how ridiculous would it be to let the other player reach across the board and move your pieces! Except a player can remove the opponent’s piece when he takes it. And in both games a player can choose to sacrifice pieces to advance one’s strategic advantage.

Even more preposterous would be to set half the board with checkers and the other half with chess pieces—when one game has much more variety and options for successful, intelligent play. Which brings me to my next comment so that it will be received in its proper context.

We must play the game with the most pieces, the most moves. We must take the first move and defend the board when someone else tries to “help us” with our strategic objectives. We must read the board and determine which pieces we are willing to sacrifice in order to capture the King!

Let the agenda, and this narrative, focus on “what’s on the chessboard”? In this case, the Vance Monument.

Pawns are traded often, and sometimes quickly, because they are so many of them and by giving them away one can advance their position and better control the board. Let me hazard an example:

Move the Vance monument where it becomes vulnerable. (pawn) You take it with your Knight. Then they swoop in take your Knight utilizing only a weaker pawn. They then give a small contract to a black business. (pawn) You take that with your Queen, a very valuable and powerful piece. They then take your Queen with any piece in place to do so and advance their position and control the board while reducing your power to defend your board or achieve your strategic objective.

By now you’re asking what is this guy talking about. The pieces don’t matter, but the concept holds. Set your own agenda and goals. Move first when you can. Look at everything on the board and decide what you are willing to give up or sacrifice in order to get what you really want.

I would rather save the money being used to take down this monument so it can begin to fund reparations. (Yes, that is on the board.) I would rather have the contract for the new art installation that will come than the contract for the interim garden installation. I’d rather have short-term rentals approved for residents and my rights protected as a property owner than to have restricted use of my own home. I would rather use the moneys we’ll need to fight lawsuits pertaining to the removal of the monument to and replace it to fund an enterprise zone for Blacks in Asheville.

I’m just saying, know the board, know what is on it. Know the game and which one they are playing. Know the moves and, when possible, move first.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s Checkers or Chess, get in the game and make your own moves!


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