CHESS and DIPLOMACY

ChessBase.com highlighted an interesting article in a recent  USA Today. It concerns Supachai Panitchpakdi, who serves as the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, the world's officiating body for international trade. He is another addition to the roster of prominent chess aficionados. In the article, Mr. Supachai was asked about his reading list from which he replied "Petrosian's Best Games of Chess: 1946-1963." The article quotes:

Supachai Panitchpakdi

Tigran Petrosian, the 1963 world chess champion from Armenia, "was not a great champion in the eyes of normal chess players," Supachai says. But "He's one of my idols in chess because I play chess according to his strategy. It's a very thick book with about 500 games. I can read that book forever."

In addition, Supachai explains the benefits of chess to his professionů

"It's easy to trace the parallels between chess and negotiating strategies -- trying to think five moves ahead of your opponent, trading castles for pawns, all played with a measure of calculated patience. In trade negotiations, "bullying tactics are for the Stone Age," says Supachai, a Buddhist.

Interesting. The above point motivated me to write this brief because at the university where I teach business, we once used chess in a graduate class called Successful Business Negotiations. The idea was to help the students to think a bit more analytically and to weigh their options before making a decision. Most of the students did not know the game, but once they learned, they enjoyed the exercise and were perhaps better for it.

Chess has long been a part of the military training arena, but perhaps more diplomats will see value in it. If all diplomats took up chess, would the world be safer or more dangerous? Probably saferů as long as the world's diplomatic corps does not emulate the diplomacy (or lack thereof) currently displayed in our chess world!!


See Noelle Knox, "Reading List Opens Book on WTO Exec," USA Today, 19 November 2003.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 4 December 2003