Visionary. Value focused.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Scattered thoughts – chess and traps

Playing chess really helps me think about different problems and finding solutions for them. One of which is realizing there are 4 different types of people when it comes to dealing with traps, whether it is in playing chess or living your lives. Today we will discuss the first 3 types.

Tl; dr;

  • The victim: these people are oblivious or too suspicious to the traps in front of them, and sometimes walking into them without knowing until it’s too late.
  • The trapper: these people will lay out the traps and patiently waiting for the preys. It takes creativity to do so.
  • The spectre: these people voluntarily play into the trapper’s setup, with the knowledge and understanding that ultimately they will get what they want.

The victim

The victim is simply someone who have not encounter a trap before, therefore they are more likely to fall into it and does not realize the damage until it’s too late. I also include people who are too suspicious of a (seemly) obvious trap so that they fall into another one.

Any chess player will tell you that they fall into their opponents’ traps multiple times before they learn how to avoid or counter them. We all start here, at the bottom of the food chain. At first, we fall into simple traps, like the fool’s mate or the scholar’s mate in chess. Over time, with practice, we learn how to avoid these traps and then start falling into more advanced tactics. And the cycle begins again.

There is a simple way to avoid falling into traps, which is learning from your own mistakes and other people’s mistakes. Be observant and think critically on how and why things are done that way.

One example is the credit card trap. Most people who utilize credit cards spend the money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like. As a result, they are pulled into a financial hole that is very hard to get out, and they become gold mines for credit card companies.

The trapper

Trappers are the ones who create and set up traps. They are exceptionally creative when it comes to lure preys into their convoluted design traps. Essentially there are 3 things to make a successful “operation”:

  • The trap: designed to come out with a decisive advantage after the victim falls to it.
  • The bait: something to lure the prey into the trap, needs to be beneficial for them in hindsight.
  • Patience: probably the most important element, the nature of traps requires it. You need to wait for the preys to fall into it. It will be less effective if you need to coerce them into the trap.

A good trapper has the creativity to design the trap, the mean (or matter) to give out baits, and the patience to wait for the results. Following the example above, we can see credit card companies are expert in this field. They have the high interest rate credit card as trap, giving out credits and also interest free period as baits, and the patience to reap the results.

The spectre

These people study the system, understand it really well, and therefore willing to fall into certain traps if they know they can benefit from it overall. They can walk in and out of traps as if they are ghosts, and I just like the word “spectre”. Coincidentally, it really fits here.

In chess, we have an attack called the fried-liver attack. It is vicious for the receiver if they don’t know how to deal with the attack. However, some players intentionally play into this attack, as they can utilize something called the Traxler counter-attack. Which renders the fried-liver attack useless, provided that they play it right.

To put it simply, the spectres go into the trap, take all the bait and run away before they are imprisoned. There are 2 things required when it comes to be a spectre.

  • Critical thinking and self-learning: extensive study is needed to understand the system before walking into such system. 
  • Self-control: baits are very delicious, and taking too much can make you fall into the trap without knowing, even with all the studies and knowledge. I often say “Greed is good”, but probably not in this case. Understand the limits, take what you can, and get out as planned.


There are a lot of traps in the world, and sometimes we just need to be a bit sane to realize them. Once we identify the traps, it’s time to learn how it works and use the system for your benefits. Most people stops at realization and start blaming the trapper, which is a waste of time and non-beneficial for everyone. Why not turning it around and use it to your advantage?

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

By Tuan Nguyen

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