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Bloggers are like Pawns on a Chessboard

Posted By Darren Rowse 26th of May 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Today Nadeesha Cabral from Rockfuse tells us why Bloggers are like Pawns on a Chessboard! – Image by All glass no class.

Pawn-1Well, you have to give it up for the title, don’t you think? Probably one of the weirdest blog post titles that you’ve ever seen on Problogger right? Well anyway, by the time you’ve finished reading this post, I can guarantee you that you will know just where on the chessboard (blogosphere) you are. I can not expect all of you to know your chess, and knowledge on the game will only matter less. Most of you are bloggers and my only hope is that you will find this article useful.

For those of you who are less familiar with the games of chess, let me tell you what a pawn is. There are 8 pawns per player on a chess bard. Pawns are the weakest of all the pieces and the lowest ranked. They can only move forward – two squares at the first move and one square per turn thereafter and can capture any other piece on the board moving one square diagonally.

So what blogger-like qualities do I see in pawns?

In the beginning there are plenty of them – and it makes them virtually worthless

In the beginning of the game, there are so many pawns at the same level. And too much of one thing will seriously undervalue it all.

Just like that, when you’re starting off as a blogger, it’s pretty hard to place some value on yourself since there will be so many bloggers at the same level as you are. You just have to accept the fact and work your way through it just like the entire platoon of pawns do. The more you progress in the right track at the right time will make you last long in the game.

Almost every time, a pawn takes the start.

A knight (the horsey figure) on the chess board can jump over all the other pieces on the board at a time, while moving. So, at the start, if you’re not starting the game with your knights, you will have to move your pawn.

If you are a well known personality, like a celebrity, you probably don’t have to take the game’s start as a pawn. Do you think Darren would have to start from scratch, and wait for a few months till his subscriber count hits 100, if he launches a new blog tomorrow? He can use his star power to probably jump over a few obstacles he’d otherwise encounter. It might not be the best thing, but it will be a head start. If not, you should start your game with a pawn, as a pawn. It’s just the way it is. Most of us will start from that zero point, and build on it thereafter.

At the very start, they will move two squares each

On a chessboard, a pawn can only move one square at a time except for the very first move of that pawn. If the player wishes, the pawn can move two squares when it has not been moved before. (When it is at its first move)

Remember that time you started to blog? You were so into making it happen that you used to commit so many hours into you blog? Instead of moving one square at a time, you were a bit impatient so you thought you should move two at a time. You soon learnt that running on full throttle is not something you can do all the time. So, you HAD to slow down and realize your blog doesn’t deserve all of your attention.

Most of them fall off

Pawns are often ignored in the middle game of chess and when in the end game, most of the pawns would’ve been captured (or sacrificed) by the two players. When the going gets rough, I guess some pawns fall off. It’s inevitable.

Similarly, when time goes by, most of the bloggers would just quit on their blogs or ignore them. It’s just a part of the cycle I guess. At a certain level, some people won’t find it worthwhile committing to something that is demanding constant attention. It’s like kids falling off when the class moves up the grades I guess. It just happens that way.

A few makes it to the end and becomes powerful

Do you know what happens to a pawn that defies all the odds and make it to the other end of the chessboard? To the 8th row of the chess board? The pawn, the lowest ranked piece of the chessboard becomes the most powerful piece on the chessboard. At that moment, a player can trade that pawn to any other piece that he/she wants that had been captured by the other side.

Well, I guess you know what that means. A blogger who has got a lot of persistence and survives till the end will undoubtedly find it worthwhile to have made it that far through all the turmoil. That blogger will be recognized as someone who made it to the ‘top’. And that blogger would not be a pawn anymore.

Before you become powerful, people will start attacking you

When pawns make it nearly to the end of the ‘other side’, to become the most powerful piece on the board, the other pieces will start attacking the pawns to make sure that they don’t make it through. It’s a battle, what do you think?

People will sometimes be envious towards what you have achieved for little or no reason and will start attacking you. If they don’t have any valid point for their attack, know that those are the other pieces on this chessboard that do not want you to make it big. Do not let them succeed. You didn’t make 6 rows on your own to be thrown out of the game on the 7th row!

But, do you really want to be just a pawn..?

So did I make all of these analogies to tell you you’re not a pawn? Well, let me put it this way. As I’ve put out here, you can clearly see how the life-span of a blogger can coincide with a life-span of the pawn of chess. But, there’s one last thing I want to tell you.

On the chessboard, a pawn is a pawn. It has no control of its existence. But, you can think and make decisions for yourself. You are not a pawn. You can choose to be successful. You can choose to fail. You might only move one square at a time. But you are in control of your journey. If you want to make it to the end, keep that in mind.

So, Good Luck! See you on the 8th row.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Wow, quite a comparison. So much truth in it.

  2. Very informative post.

    I started my blog just to be different. I was posting on yahoogroups and different forums my views. But you find people complaining that some of the posts are not relevant to the group.

    I found blogging easier way to deal with the topics that I want to discuss. I blog on accounting and related items. To make the blog informative, I had to read a lot of things and then come up with the blog post that interest to the reader. I found my knowledge level grew, so was the subscriber base of my blog.

    Let’s see when I will reach the 8th row on the other side.


    Santosh Puthran

  3. Great comparison. Though all the pawns aim to reach the 8th row, very few only make it to 8th row. Bloggers have to face the competition.

  4. It seems I have taken the same path as Santosh. I blog for a different reason – to speak to the person, not the personality about broadening perspective and weaving through the pitfalls along the way.

    I suppose that does put me in the role of ‘pawn,’ but if it supports all bloggers by inspiring reader participation, whether on my blog or everyone else’s, I’d have to say I’m happy with that.

    Thanks for the analogy, Nadeesha. Darren, thanks for opening yet another door.


  5. Nice article, i really enjoyed reading this
    and funny title two :)

  6. That`s why sometimes I forget to blog. Chess is a good game. But both combined (strategy) are great.

  7. A wonderful way to describe different stats of a blogger.
    After all a long journey start with a single step and the winner is the won who keep walking.

    Nice post and good thinking and keep the good work going.

  8. Darren Love your Chess Analogy!

    Yes Life in a Blogoshpere is exactly like Chess!

    We all need to learn how to defended ourselves!

    I find it the best way to defended is to be open to offense!

  9. Wow this hits home. In the Niche that I blog in there is a lot of competition for the search terms but, no one does it really well. It has made for some unusual contacts.

    I just cant seem to get the conversation going even though the traffic is there. So I am using my limited influence to encourage change in a niche 10 years behind the rest of the online world!

  10. Excellent post, this was very inspirational.

    Right now I find myself in the role of that pawn, on the second row…

    I’m trying to find some of the stronger pieces to back me similar to the Knight and Rook backing the Pawns. This just made me realize how much I really want to be that Promoted Pawn in the 8th Row.

    For those of you on the same path as myself, keep up the good fight…For those already there, see you on the 8th row!

  11. TroubleMaker says: 05/26/2008 at 3:20 am

    True enough Nadz :)

    Bloggers are like pawns on a chessboard. I totally agree with it.

    Good luck for your way to the 8th row :)

  12. Interesting comparison. Hopefully with some serious tactics, I’ll be saying “Checkmate”. Though the game of chess played on the Blogosphere is never over now is it

  13. Brilliant post Nadeesha.

    Yeah,look forward to meeting you at the 8th row!

  14. Quite an insightful analogy. Thanks for bringing in motivation and inspiration through this article.

  15. Very interesting post! And it’s true, I understood the connection between pawns and bloggers.

  16. That was quite insightful. I think the same analogy can be used with youtubers and their videos.

  17. I respectfully totally and completely disagree with the following:

    >> “Just like that, when you’re starting off as a blogger, it’s pretty hard to place some value on yourself since there will be so many bloggers at the same level as you are.” <<

    If you believe in yourself, it’s not hard whatsoever to place value upon yourself…as a matter of fact, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. *You* know your abilities, *you* know your value….just because you might be new doesn’t mean at all you cannot place value upon yourself.

    I believe one’s feelings of “value” must first start from within. It doesn’t require the rest of the blogosphere to say, omigosh, this is an awesome person….you *already* should know that within your heart.

    Believe in yourself…and the rest will follow. I’ve walked that walk the past 10+ years of being an online entrepreneur and will continue to do so until I hang up my keyboard.

    It’s what you believe about yourself that powers the rest of the process.

    Data points,


  18. Very motivating post!

  19. Inspiration just checkmated doom!

    Thanks for your encouragement; I don’t know how you do what you do, but you make the game worth the candle.

  20. But guys you need to remember that when we join all the Pawns together we are very strong!

    I have joined with Andy Beard on a few issues about Google a few times! And Googler Matt Cutts turns white running around and trying to say “Google does no Evil.”

    So do not think you are a Pawn, but join together on what ever issues that concern you!

    Google, Word Press, Business, Marketing, Development, Human Rights, and others.

  21. Awesome post, however wouldn’t Darren be the queen piece then? :-)

  22. Collin – lol, not sure I’m any queen :-)

  23. Awesome analogy and quite the reality check about the realities of competition.

    Maria Reyes-McDavis

  24. Darren, I rather be the Queen when it comes to Chess!

    The King always Dies while the Queen Breaks Balls! LOL

  25. What a great post! Many times I feel like the lonely pawn. While all the big pieces are moving and playing in the game, I’m still on the same square. If I am reminded of the 8th row and keep my eye on my goal, one day I will make it there. I’m grateful to Probloger for encouraging this pawn.

  26. interesting…

  27. Good comparision.

    It doesn’t matter if it is a blog, a business, or climb up Mt Everest, every journey starts with the first step and takes time to build momentum.

    If I may use an over used quote, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

    The Masked Millionaire

  28. An excellent analogy, if the chess players are average players. I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble here or anything but back in the day when I was still in my high school’s varsity chess team, pawns are valued from the very start of the game.

    Since each pawn has very limited movement, each move was made with precision and part of a grand plan to check mate the opponent’s King, not really make it to the 8th row and be promoted or ‘become powerful’ because that’s not the object of the game.

    So more experienced and learned chess players use their pawns in teams, making sure each is doing its part to protect their King and provide cover for the attacking pieces. Because an isolated pawn is a big liability. But a group of well positioned pawns can be as powerful as a rook or a bishop.

    My point is, it doesn’t always have to be a competition between us bloggers just as it’s not always a pawn’s goal to reach the 8th row faster than any one else.

    Sure we want more traffic, more visitors, more subscribers and we may be on the same niche but it doesn’t necessarily make us competitors or rivals. I like to think of it more as a community sharing one common goal and helping each other to reach the same goal, which for the pawns is to help the rest of their side to check mate the opposing King or as with us bloggers, to become better bloggers so that our readers would benefit more and vice versa.

    Heck, a good sample of such a community is right here in ProBlogger.

  29. I think pawns are the cutest.

  30. Nadeesha,

    One of the best analogies I’ve ever seen on the blogosphere!

    I’m twitting it, digg it and will later on blog on in on my noobpreneur.com

    Spot on – great point – so on the face :)


  31. I find this quite an interesting post. I started about a week ago and I’m still developing the ‘plan of attack’ :P
    I’ll see where it’s gonna end, at least I’m finally content with the layout my site has! :)

  32. Your chessboard pawn theory is not apply to blogging only, basically can apply to all business.
    I will say who has got a lot of persistence, planning, skill and luck will finish in the 8th row.
    But no gurantee to success! That’s the life of a pawn.

  33. excellent philosophy!

  34. Great analogy!

    Blogging, like chess, requires both long-term strategy and short-term tactics.

    One of the goals of chess is to create a passed pawn, a pawn which cannot be blocked or captured by another pawn.

    One maxim of chess is “always push your passed pawn.”

    How could this apply to blogging?

    If you have an opening, take it!

    Another unique thing about pawns is that they advance forward but capture sideways.

    Do these diagonal captures have some correspondence with blogging? Changing lanes, while still moving forward?

    What about en passant? This is a special one-time opportunity to capture the enemy. But the pawn must capture immediately or miss out on that opportunity.

    Lots to think about.


  35. Interesting analogy; however, I tend to agree with jhay on the value of pawns and the nature of blogging. It’s not a precise fit.

    For me, traffic, revenue and notoriety are the goals – all of which are a bit intertwined. I don’t really want to put another blogger or media source in checkmate.

    Good points . . . they just can’t be stretched much further in this analogy.

  36. I agree, i like the style the way you compare bloggers and chess.

  37. I love the “before you reach the other side people will start attacking you” analogy. It’s very true.

    I’m curious to see if this post ranks page one for some chess related keywords. That was the goal right?

  38. Blogging activity looks like long chess game – ideas,creations,combat!

  39. Comparing bloggers to chess? Ridiculous! You might as well compare bloggers to a lamp. Although, I enjoyed reading the post. You addressed many factors that bloggers have to endure, such as being one of many, durability and resistance to jealousy.

  40. Thanks for the post. I like that pawns can only move forward.

  41. That is a great analogy! I am a middle school teacher and I run a chess club. I give a very similar speech every year comparing adolescents to pawns in that they don’t get a lot of respect in the beginning but have the potential to grow into something much more powerful if they make the right moves.

    The analogy definitely fits blogging as well. Nicely put!

  42. I have started a new JV project with a new friend of mine. I do the tech stuff and she provides the content.

    She has never really heard of blogs before.

    This article is excellent because it explains the life of a blogger perfectly. From beginning to success.

    I shared it with her and I am sure she now has a better understanding about blogging!


  43. I love chess, maybe next after blogging. I am amazed how your guest blogger compare the two. Maybe a grandmaster himself at his age of 19.

    Anyway, I just want to add that pawns are also sometimes being ignored by the higher ranking opponent and just being realized when it is almost at the 8th row to become a queen or whatever.

    My point is do not ignore a newbie on line, you do not know what will happen to him the next months. Helping newbies is also mentoring them. If things reversed, he will also help you.


  44. As a chess player of many years and newbie blogger, this article was particularly inciteful. It would seem that both chess and blogging are microcosms of life.

  45. That eighth ‘row’ is actually called a ‘rank’ — as in the eighth rank.

  46. Very interesting and good analogy! Chess is the best game to play–it has it all–and I will remember this post as I battle for that final victory, “checkmate”.

  47. Good post! It is a test of will to hang in there long enough to spawn upstream! Really useful information for a grasshopper like me.


  48. Your article is spot on. E2 to E4

  49. Thank you, I needed to read that!!

  50. This was a brilliant piece of writing, Darren. I’m an avid chess player myself and the title drew me in and the post itself was priceless. It definitely is a must read for beginning and expert bloggers. I have a couple of blog projects going on with more to come and this was inspirational. Keep up the great work!


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