May 16th, 2010
10:02 AM ET

Dear Mr. President #482 "The Queen's gambit"

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: I’m writing about teamwork a bit this weekend, which every president needs.

Dear Mr. President,

Ask any beginning chess player to name the most important piece on the board, and chances are good he or she will say the queen.  The queen is wildly mobile, hugely powerful, and much to be respected in every contest, but especially one between less experienced players.   But give a grand master a choice between a queen, and say a bishop and two rooks, and chances are good he will take the minor pieces.  Because, just as I wrote yesterday, the power of the team is so fearsome compared to the power of the single combatant.

One of the principles of chess, just in case you don’t play much, (Oh sure, you were probably one of those fancy college students who went on ‘dates’!) is to “control the center” of the board, and that takes a team more than one powerful individual.

Why?  Well, imagine football players standing in opposite end zones.  If they were simply going to scrum around the ball on the fifty yard line and wrestle for control, and one team charged our in force to that position, they would have an advantage.  The other team could send out its biggest, strongest, most terrifying player, but he’d be helpless against the larger numbers.