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By Alphonse le Sage (Alfonso X) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsThis year we will see a revised version of the 1,000 year old game, Chess.

That news is surprising for those of us who thought that a game with such tradition and history was off limits.

But it is the very rigidity of the game that has prompted the revision because over the years it has moved from a game of analytical and strategic challenge to one of rote learning.

Chess Grand Master, Bobby Fischer is even quoted as saying:

I’m finished with the old chess because it’s all just a lot of book and memorization!

It seems that once you have applied enough human intelligence to a restricted set of tools and moves, it doesn’t take long to become a meaningless ritual of habit.

And this is a warning needed in the world of marketing, too.

Chess facing Checkmate

According to indie game developer, Zac Burns from Ludeme, his team is working on bringing Chess 2 to life for master game designer, David Sirlin.

The problem with Old Chess, according to Zac in a recent interview on The Pod Delusion podcast, is that players have been able to memorise the various opening moves and closing moves within the restrictions of the game, meaning that it’s players with the best memories who win and when two such players meet the game inevitably ends in a draw.

David Sirlin’s insight has been to give players a choice of six armies instead of the the one set arrangement of pieces AND to give each of those new configurations different strengths and weaknesses.

For example, one team gives extra powers to Bishops and Knights but restricts the Queen to one-square-at-a-time movements like the King.

In a further twist, instead of the game hinging on an opponent cornering a King, the game can also end if a player enables their King to ‘storm’ the opponents half of the board.

Suddenly, instead of just one match up with its various manoeuvres, Chess 2 brings 21 different match ups, each with hundreds of thousands of move combinations, leaving no room for players to rest on their laurels or play from memory.

I suspect Chess is about to have a revival, thanks to this breath of fresh air.

Does marketing have a new move?

As marketers of our businesses or organisations, this news about Chess 2 should rattle us.

I’m hoping it makes us look hard at the habits and habitual thinking we too often adopt and forces us to question everything.

In the current Marketing Magazine editorial, Peter Roper notes that the marketplace is in turmoil with competitors taking different forms every day, for example:

  • Personal trainers now compete against other trainers AND Wii Fit games
  • Nikon now competes against other camera companies AND Instagram

Change is all about us and often our habits are so ingrained we are blind to them.

Do you really have to renew that newspaper ad or put the same wheel barrows on display in the same spot out front every day?

But the deepest habits are in our thoughts, so I’ll leave you with a comment that the wine entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk shared during a speech earlier this year:

In a time when everybody is hunting, you should be farming

What he meant was that instead of focussing on the age old approach of trying to hunt consumers or clients, farming (crafting and sharing and promoting original, helpful content that helps answer questions,  shape opinions and bring value to your marketplace) might be a strategy with the greatest medium term yield.

Here is one example of farming from Jay Baer’s new book, Youtility.

Columbia Sports Wear, instead of creating an app for choosing your hiking jackets, which customers might have used once or twice, created an app on how to tie knots. They chose that option because they discerned their customers were often in the outdoors, often with their smart phones and often needed to tie knots in different situations; a handy app to have around and share with friends.

What an interesting way to ‘entangle’ yourself in the world of your customers and their contacts! What ‘Chess 2’ thinking!

What game-changing moves might you come up with?

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