Shah Rukh Khan's most valuable gift: chess

by Sagar Shah
7/19/2016 – He is arguably the most popular and successful (net worth $600 million) film star in the world – a Bollywood icon with hundreds of millions of fans and followers. On graduation day at his daughter's school Shah Rukh Khan spoke about the five gifts given to him by his father and how they changed his life. The first gift, which he received at the age of ten, was a chess set! Listen to his beautifully delivered speech and especially his thoughts about the game.

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It is always good news for chess fans when Bollywood icons who have millions of fans and followers speak about the game of chess! On the graduation day of Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Shah Rukh Khan, one of the most eminent actors in Bollywood, was the chief guest. Shah Rukh spoke about the five gifts given to him by his father that changed his life. The first was a chess board he got when he was ten. Shah Rukh talks about chess and life for nearly four minutes and quite ingeniously links zugzwang to the real world! Don't miss out on this very interesting speech by King Khan.

On 1st of June 2016, Shah Rukh Khan, a Bollywood icon and perhaps one of the most popular figures in India, was chief guest at the Graduation ceremony of Dhirubhai Ambani International School (DAIS). One of the students graduating was Shah Rukh's own daughter Suhana Khan.

Shah Rukh Khan, 50, also known as SRK, is an Indian film actor, producer and television personality. Referred to in the media as the "Baadshah of Bollywood", "King of Bollywood" or "King Khan", he has appeared in more than 80 Bollywood films, and earned numerous accolades, including 14 Filmfare Awards. Khan has a significant following in Asia and the Indian diaspora worldwide. In terms of audience size and income, he has been described as one of the most successful film stars in the world. [Source: Wikipedia]

Shah Rukh Khan's speech: the chess part begins at 7 min 10s and goes on until 11 minutes!

After a brief introduction, Shah Rukh begins with the main content of his speech. He speaks about the five gifts given to him by his father and how they changed his life. The reason why this speech made it to our newspage is because the first gift was a chess set! This is what Shah Rukh had to say about chess in his speech:

When I was ten, my father gifted me an old chess set. Now, chess is a reflection of life. And as cliched it may sound, it is probably true. The first thing it teaches you is that every move has a consequence, whether you perceive that it does or does not. Not a single moment is empty of living. So, think your things through, not always but often enough so that your life doesn't look as uniform and black and white like a chess board. Sometimes in order to move forward you might need to take a few steps back. And there is no loss in doing something that hurts in the short run but proves worth while in time.

Sometimes the queen might seem sexier, they always do! But if she gets taken by an adversary straight after you have saved her, then you might be better off saving your castle or the bald bishop instead. So don't always choose what seems most desirable if something tells you that it is going to get you into a whole lot of trouble.

You cannot get anywhere in chess if you don't look out for the little ones – the small pawns around you. Life is like that too. If you forget the smallest of your people, or become foolish enough to imagine that the little graces you're given are of no value, you end up nowhere. When you look around you learn to notice the tiny things which make your existence privileged and special. Just the fact that you are here, in this very moment, in this fantastic school, in the company of such adorable parents, is the product of hard work, love and sacrifice on the part of many people present here. Taking your blessings for granted is the most ungracious stupidity, both in chess and in life.

Then there is what they call, I don't know how to pronounce it but sounds very cool – zugzwang! It's a really cool word. It sounds like a Chinese aphrodisiac. It is a German word for, [looks at his speech], okay I need to tone down this a bit! Oh fish I need to get out of here! Anyway, for those who have never played the game, it is when you get so stuck that whichever move you make is a bad move. It will happen to each one of you in your life. A moment will come when it will look like there isn't anything that is going right, and there is nothing you can do to prevent disaster.

When you are in zugzwang, don't panic! With little embarassment you will survive it. All you have to do is make a move. All you have to do is move on a bit! As the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland said, when Alice came to the fork in the road, "If you don't know where you are going it doesn't matter which road you take." I will add to it - As long as you take one road and don't keep standing in the middle of the fork until a truck runs you over you should be fine. Often in Zugzwang your enemy ends up winning that particular move but you end up winning the game.

I found Shah Rukh mentioning the word zugzwang and linking it to life quite ingenious! It is good news for chess fans that King Khan spoke about chess and we hope that many more people will take up to this beautiful game after listening to his speech.

Read more about Shah Rukh's speech and all ten life lessons in this Huffington Post article:
Ten life lessons Shah Rukh Khan gives in heartwarming speech to graduating students


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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