Friday, 2. December 2022


Law and Chess II

There are also parallels between law and chess in the way of thinking and proceeding:

1. The chess player must know how the individual pieces can move, what castling is, etc. The lawyer should know the various laws, regulations and other norms.

Law is much more complex than chess. In chess, there are just six different pieces, each with precisely defined possibilities for moves. A bishop can only move diagonally, there is no “room for interpretation”. On the other hand, there are thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of laws and paragraphs that must be known and observed when applying the law.

2 Knowledge of the rules is only the first step in both areas. One could also speak of the “basics”. Far more interesting is then what one makes of the individual moves/rules of law, i.e. how one structures and develops one’s game or a lawsuit, what tactics one uses, etc. And also in this respect law seems to me far more complex than chess.

a) While chess pieces, as I said, each have only very limited and precisely defined possibilities of moves, laws often offer several possibilities of interpretation and evaluation (wording, meaning and purpose, etc). Chess is only black or white, whereas in law there are many “gray areas”.

b) Also the possibilities for combinations, called arguments, are much more diverse in the legal field and have different levels: substantive law and procedural or evidentiary law, design and creation of facts, factual arguments or more “psychological” arguments, insinuations, formulations. …

c) Last but not least: The outcome of the dispute is more diversified in law: In chess, one can only win, lose or agree on a draw. A legal settlement, on the other hand, knows many intermediate levels (70 to 30, 60 to 40, …) in addition to a 50 to 50, and even the inclusion of elements that were previously not a part of the dispute. This is as if one would say in chess: You win by three quarters and I win by one quarter. Or: In this game we agree on a draw, and in return you get a rook more in the next game or so.

3. Conclusion: Law (so often called “dry”) is much more exciting and complex than chess. Especially if you take into account that it is also about “real” problems and sometimes destinies, and not only an “exercise of the mind”.

Dr. Wolfgang Gottwald
Attorney at Law

Attorney at Law

Leopoldstraße 51
80802 München

Tel.: 089/383 293-10
Fax: 089/383 293-13