When I began playing chess, the loss of a pawn didn’t seem like that big a deal. After all, it’s just a lousy pawn. Was I wrong! The loss of a single pawn often means the loss of the game. More importantly for our purposes, it turns out that pawns are deceptively powerful.
True, they only move one square per move (possibly two on the first move). But given enough time, pawns can turn into queens, rooks, knights or bishops. If you can push your pawn to the other side of the board, it can become any piece you choose (other than a pawn or king, of course). That reminds me of the small, monthly investments we can make. Given enough time, they turn into something truly remarkable. We’ll come back to that, but first let’s take a closer look at the beauty and power of the lowly pawn.
There are many famous chess games that demonstrate the power of the pawn. One such game is H. Bird v. W. Steinitz played in New Orleans in 1866. Here is the key position, with White to move:
First, Bird captures blacks pawn putting the king in check:
When it comes to finances, I hope you remember that pawn. Marching one step at a time across the board, it took out an entire army. Small, incremental steps in finances can do the same thing. Even $100 per month invested in a well diversified portfolio will grow into a substantial sum given enough time. Likewise, spending just a little more than you make, left on credit cards each month, will “snowball” into a mountain of debt. The point is, the little things matter! Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves. Well, not really. You have to take care of the big things, too. But you get the idea.
With that, I’ll leave you with your puzzle for the day, and it’s real “easy.” In fact, this position only has 8 pieces on the board. It’s White’s turn to move. Can you figure out how White can get one of his pawns past the three black ones for a Queen that will lead to victory for White?