The Spirit Of Prophylaxis

There are many different concepts that can be learned on the chess board and many of these are applicable to other spheres. One that I think is very useful is that of prophylaxis, which Aaron Nimzovitsch developed extensively, trying to defuse threats before they arise.

This is particularly worth considering in the field of health maintenance. Unfortunately the West is dominated by the idea of not fixing something until it is broken, but when major illnesses take hold it can already be rather on the late side. With cancer in particular, waiting for it to strike and then ‘fixing’ it with surgery and chemotherapy is hardly an optimal route.

A few years ago, and when I was at a low ebb, I realized that my ‘health position’ was rather vulnerable and could do with some repairs. Being a chess player, and a rather positional one at that, I thought in terms of prophylaxis, and after some research decided that I should adopt some lifestyle changes that would be hostile to both cancer and heart disease.

These have been fairly well documented, so I won’t discuss them at length. But the issue for most people seems to be a lack of willingness to do anything before the enemy is at the gate. A serious health scare can foster change, but anything short of that rarely has an effect.

Should the concept of prophylaxis be better communicated through other means so it doesn’t appear to be ‘another health lecture’? Very possibly, though chess may not be great either as prophylaxis is quite a high level concept. But at least the connection between health prophylaxis and chess prophylaxis may get the penny to drop amongst some stronger players.

Here’s a video featuring the author of ‘Anti-Cancer’, Dr. Servan-Schreiber: