“I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.” –– Confucius

Chess: a game for two played on a chessboard with each player having 16 pieces

You’ve most likely heard someone say that you should live your life like a game of Chess, but what does that really mean? It’s easy to say and it sounds good, so the saying tends to get passed down year after year, but you rarely find someone who can truly break it down for you. The easiest analogy to give is that, in Chess, you tend to study the board and make moves based on intelligent decisions after considering what your opponent might do once you move.

You must try and always think three or four moves ahead. Therefore, when it comes to The Game: Always think two, three and four moves ahead. Everything you do in life is always the cause of some type of effect. For instance, you ran into your plug’s bitch at the club and she’s giving you major play. You’ve got a choice to make; you can either end the night after the last call for liquor, or you can take her to a room and smash. Now, you tell me, what are the possible outcomes of that situation? Once you start thinking of the possible consequences for your actions, then you start playing The Game like a game of Chess.

You don’t gotta be a grandmaster Chess player to utilize its overall lessons. Just knowing the basics of the game is enough. The reason why I’m saying this is because, not only does Chess teach you patience, it will also help you understand what I’m about to break down for you. Plus, Chess is a game for thinkers, an exercise for the mind; why not learn at least the basics?

In Chess you start with two armies on opposite sides of the board. Each “army” has a King, which is the most powerful piece on the board since it’s the life of the game. The game isn’t over until the King falls. Just like in The Game. As long as you’re still alive and able to make moves, you’re in a position to rise. Once you’re dead or you start believing it’s over, then it’s really over. Each army starts out with a Queen, which is the most powerful piece on the board next to the King. She’s the most powerful piece, yet she ain’t shit if the person utilizing her assets doesn’t know how to control her moves. See how that applies to The Game? Each side also begins with two knights, two rooks and two bishops. These pieces are the lieutenants who control the rest of your army. This is your inner circle, the niggaz you come up with. They obviously have more power than the rest of your soldiers. And just like the Queen, each one of these pieces is valuable in their own way, but it all comes down to who’s controlling the army. Last but not least, each army begins with eight pawns. These pieces are the soldiers of your army and they play the front line. Though they start out as the weakest pieces on the board, with the right guidance they can climb the ranks and become the strongest pieces. Sometimes in Chess, one pawn can mean the difference between life and death. Think about that.

In Chess, once you pick a side and set up the pieces, the game begins. One can argue that it’s exactly like that in The Game, too, but it’s not anywhere near that easy in real life. In reality, most of us aren’t born with an army at our beck and call. We start out alone with the odds against us. Yeah, some of you may have large families, but I want you to step outside the box for a minute and try to see what I’m telling you here. In The Game it’s You v. the pigs; You v. the haters; You v. Yourself. And your opponent’s always start out with a whole army of their own. The only piece you have is yourself; ultimately, you must rely on your own knowledge, wisdom and understanding to navigate through The Game profitably.

In the game of Chess it’s impossible to win with just your King on the board against an opponent who has all of his pieces. You’ll find yourself on the run while your opponent assumes the offensive. That’s where you’re at when you first choose to jump off that porch. It’s you on the board against all of the obstacles in life. The difference between The Game and the game of Chess is that, in life, when you get captured or killed it’s real-life off-with-your-head shit! There’s no setting up the board again.

Nevertheless, even though you start The Game alone doesn’t mean you can’t eventually win it. You will become a Boss if you want it bad enough. The first thing you have to do is recognize that The Game isn’t a game, it’s life and death, rich or poor, loyalty and betrayal. Once you come to this realization, you’ve already accumulated your first pawn. Because realizing that The Game is dead serious is the first step to your awakening; you now have your eyes open and you’re starting to see The Game for what it is. And like I said before, with the right guidance, a pawn can grow to become the strongest piece on the board. There are certain times in life when you might find yourself playing the position of a pawn. That’s okay, because with the right amount of drive and determination, you’ll soon become a King in your own right.

I remember a time in Tennessee when my back was against the proverbial rock and a hard place. I had just gotten out from doing a year in the county jail. In that time I had lost every single reminisce of a support system that I had in that state. The only person in my corner was a lil’ homey named Mike-Mike who had always hung out at my trap before I went to jail. When I got out, this lil’ nigga had grown like six inches and was packin’ big-boy pistols. Not only that, but he also had a team of youngstaz just as grimy as him. The year before I went to jail was so hectic that I didn’t really recognize Mike as a real asset. I liked ’em, though, so I kept him around, and it paid off when I needed him the most. He was originally a pawn on my board, but in the end he became my lieutenant.

In The Game, it’s important that you stack your side with as many pieces as possible. But that doesn’t mean that you should settle for a subpar team. You need to make it a priority to surround yourself with strong individuals. Your life depends on it.

First let’s begin with the Queen; the game of Chess is rich with many metaphors and the greatest metaphor is the manifestation of the Queen on the board.

On the board, she stands strong and regal. She’s free to roam from one end to the next. She causes opposing Kings a lot of anxiety, and she’s prepared to die for her King. If you choose to align yourself with a Queen, you must realize that she will be one of the most important pieces on your board, and she’s the only piece that you can’t create. Yeah, you can take a pawn and make her your Queen, but a true Queen is already born with the correct attributes. And finding this Queen is a lot harder than you may think. I’ve learned how to play without my Queen, but there have been times when I may not have survived if it weren’t for my Queen whispering a piece of wisdom in my ear. Real talk.

Your Queen will manifest when the time is right, but until that time comes, you need to get yourself a team. Your goal is to bleed The Game for all it’s worth. The only way to do that is by stacking up your arsenal, and if you don’t know what the most powerful tool in your arsenal is, let me spell it out for you: M-O-N-E-Y! That’s right! Cash is your best friend. Why? Because money unlocks doors. Money equals power. Money is what will enable you to do and experience the things in life that you really want and need. Therefore, you need to make money!

There are some of you who think your hustle brings you enough money to make you happy, so there’s no reason to upgrade your game. Well, I’m here to tell you that cash isn’t the only form of wealth. Your source of income (if only one) is only one piece on your board. What if that piece gets killed or captured? Then what do you have to stand on? If you have one hustle then you have one piece on your board. That’s not anywhere near enough to take on a formidable foe.

In Chess it’s customary to castle within the first fifteen moves. When you castle on the board you insulate yourself from danger because you’ve got three pawns in front of you and your rook right next to you. A rook is your right-hand man, and so are your knights and bishops. That inner circle that I spoke of earlier consist of these pieces. There’s something you need to realize about that inner circle; not everyone is cut out to do the same things, so you shouldn’t treat them like they are.

Bishops work better when they have the other one to work with. On the board, you start out with two bishops, one for each color, but the moment you lose one, the other automatically becomes weaker. It’s like in my book Underworld Zilla. The two main characters are brothers, Anthony and Talton. Together they made a great team because Talton was a hitter and Ant was a numbers man. Well, in the story, Ant got robbed and murdered and that took the piece of Talton that kept him grounded. After Ant got killed, Talton lost that voice that helped him strategize. Yeah, Talton was sharp, but without his brother he became a livewire. If you find yourself with a crew and you see two of them tighter with each other than the others, that’s okay. There’s a chance that they are one another’s yin and yang. Nurture that and support it.

Knights hop around the board in L shapes. They can jump over other pieces and they are easy to place somewhere where they need to blend in, thus, blinding your opponent to the possible threat that they pose. In The Game you’re gonna meet people who are good at certain things, and they may not be violent in nature. This doesn’t mean that you should underestimate their value. Not every man is cut out to be a gunner, a jacker, or a D-boy. It’s your job as the King to recognize all of your pieces’ potentials and to give them jobs according to their specialty.

Your rook is your right-hand man. Like I said before, in Chess, the greatest players know that you should always keep at least one rook, on that back line with your King. And when you get to moving that other rook, it should at least remain lined up with the other rook so they always have each other’s back. Your rook is your hitter, your lieutenant, so he must not only be a thinker, but a head hunter, too. And always remember this: Your game isn’t the only game in play. In your life, he’s your rook and you’re the King. In your rook’s life, he is the King and you’re the rook. Respect that dynamic and treat it accordingly because the minute you start treating it differently, you run the risk of creating dissention with the one piece who’s willing to knock a nigga’s head off for you.

One more thing; the stronger the player, the further ahead in The Game he can see. Bruh, you know that once you get to know certain people, you can easily guess how they’ll react in certain situations. Take that knowledge and apply it to all those around you, enemies as well as friends, competition as well as business partners. I’m not saying that you need to be a fortune teller. What I’m saying is know who and what you’re playing against and utilize your jewels: Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding.

AFTERTHOUGHT: “A superior man is modest in his speech, yet exceeds in his actions.”                                                        


Mike Enemigo is America’s #1 incarcerated author and executive publisher of The Cell Block. The above excerpt, “Chess,” is from his book How To Hustle & Win: Sex, Money, Murder Edition, with TCB author King Guru. You can purchase the book on thecellblock.net, Amazon, or by sending $15.00 plus $5 s/h to The Cell Block; POB 1025; Rancho Cordova, CA 93581