Table Topics – Part 1


Table topics are challenging not just for the participants – they , of course, have to think on their feet and say something that entertains , enthralls or has a takeaway value within a space of 30 seconds and in just 2:30 minutes. However, being a table topic master is equally challenging: You have to choose topics that the audience and the participant can relate to:

The following is the text of one of the TT sessions that I had the privilege of hosting:

I own a copy of the book How Life Imitates Chess – Insights into life as a game of strategy
by Garry Kasparov. Before you bombard me with questions about this book, I have not yet completed it. Now Garry Kasparov is considered by many to be the greatest champion the game of chess has ever seen. And the book is a superb outline of his approach and strategy in life. Chess, too, like a good speech , is made up of 3 parts, the opening game , the middle game and the end game.

Most chapters in the book begin with a quote that gives the reader an idea of what is to come. I have picked some of these quotes and some quotable gems from the great master himself, as table topics for this meet. I am sure that you will find them insightful and enlightening; and provide an interpretation based on your life experiences.

The man who knows how will always have a job. The man who also knows why will always be his boss – Ralph Waldo Emerson
‘Tactics’ is knowing what to do when there is something to do.
‘Strategy’ is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do. – Savielly Grigoryevich Tartakower leading Polish and French chess Grandmaster
I see only one move ahead but it is always the correct one – Jose Raul Capablanca , 3rd world chess champion
When I was 11, I just got good – Bobby Fischer , the eleventh world chess champion and child prodigy
If a man has a talent, and cannot use it, he has failed. – Thomas Wolfe
Before the endgame, the gods have played the middle game – Siegbert Tarrasch was one of the strongest chess players and most influential chess teachers of the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Knowing is different from doing – Carl Von Clausewitz a Prussian soldier, military historian and influential military theorist.
Even a bullet fears the brave – Russian saying
What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic , power and genius in it – Goethe
Success is the enemy of future success
If you want to be taken seriously , take yourself seriously
The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves – Oscar Wilde
We know more than we understand
Everything is condensed into one moment. It decides our life – Franz Kafka was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century
Your life is your preparation
The game can be won before you get to the board
Be aware of your routines, then break them
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference – Churchill
Originality is hard work
Innovation alone doesn’t equal success
And a child shall lead us
Ideas reflect society
Fear of change is worse than changing too fast
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties – German-American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm
Know why we make each move we make
Art is born from creative conflict
Make sure a good peace follows a good war
Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight
The threat is stronger than the execution – Aarton Nimzowitsch,  Latvian-born Danish unofficial chess grandmaster[1] and a very influential chess writer
Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts – Churchill

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