Why The Jedi Needed Chess Lessons

Having had the Star Wars movies run in the background for hundreds of hours I’ve learned quite a bit about the Jedi. And I’ve also come to a staggering conclusion; from the point of view of strategy and planning they were just hopeless.

Here’s a listing of Jedi mistakes which a strong chess player would probably have avoided. I therefore have to conclude that the Jedi younglings needed chess lessons, and probably from Richard James or Hugh Patterson:

  • Throughout the entire series of films the Jedi seemed to drift along trying to ‘sense’ what the dark side was up to rather than reason it out, not considering the consequences of their actions. This is similar to looking at a chess position from a general point of view but without calculating anything.
  • A serious error was made when they foolishly made an overt attempt to arrest the chancellor rather than have him quietly assassinated. In doing so they created the pretext for him to accuse them of treason and issue order 66.
  • Master Windu had an opportunity to kill Chancellor Palpatine during the arrest, but hesitated because he had some inner conflicts (finishing him off would not have been the ‘Jedi way’).
  • Windu had a similar opportunity in episode 2, this time to kill Count Dooku and other separatist leaders. Once again he hesitated which resulted in the deaths of numerous Jedi before Master Yoda flew in to the rescue.
  • Anakin Skywalker had a similar inner conflict during his second duel with Count Dooku, which shows that just hesitation was not unique to Windu. Skywalker’s conflict was only resolved by the decisive Chancellor Palpatine who instructed him to ‘do it’, meanwhile it seems that Jedi training was missing a simple thinking protocol for such moments. If a Sith is ‘too dangerous to be left alive’ then it should be clear that they should kill him at the first opportunity rather than procrastinate.
  • Not making Skywalker a Master and asking him to spy on the Chancellor were serious mistakes, the consequences of which (alienating him) should not have been hard to anticipate. The Jedi Council gave the impression at this time of being rule bound and inflexible.
  • Only using a light sabre reminds me of players who only ever use certain openings, regardless of their suitability. It should have been obvious to the Jedi that the also needed a distance weapon like a blaster.

Here anyway is a good illustration of how they could have improved, rather than trying to talk your opponent to death just checkmate him:

Nigel Davies

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About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Besides teaching chess, Nigel is a registered tai chi and qigong instructor and runs several weekly classes.