Proving You’re Agile in under 5 Minutes

By Brian Lucas

This one is dedicated to my good friend Wayne.  The future is yours for the taking…

“The world is moving so fast these days that the one who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.” -Harry Emerson Fosdick

Take this agile challenge – go on I dare you!  Prove to someone in less than 5 minutes that you are an agile thinker.  Give up?  Did you even try?  You will be surprised that if you try it often enough you will expand the boundaries of your mind considerably.  It is very similar to thinking outside the box or connecting the nine dots.  It will sharpen your intellect to deal with all sorts of problems on the fly.  Here’s is how I proved I was an agile thinker to a group of colleagues.

First a little background.  I have always enjoyed playing chess since I was around 8 years old.  When I first started working in business, I did a great deal of work at night.  One of my fellow workers was a ranked class A chess player and quite good, so we played several games each night.  I do not enjoy blitz chess, although we used to play fairly fast games.  He was a very defensive player and I have a very aggressive game style.  Unfortunately, I do not get enough time to play as often as I like now and I am careful when I play with friends.  Once, years ago, I beat someone with the Sicilian variation of the Halasz Gambit.  The poor looser had a fit, broke his expensive crystal King chess piece in half and never spoke to me again[1].

Ok, on to the challenge.  I was playing chess with some friends the other evening in the hills to the south of my home while waiting for the sun to set.  Our one friend, Daren, who lives in a beautiful home on top of the mountain has several expensive telescopes.  Tonight, we intended using a Sky-Watcher Quantum 150ED APO triplet refractor telescope for some amateur astronomy, we had planned later that night.  After a German style spaghetti meal I had furnished (my mother’s recipe), we thought we would get in a game over coffee, brandy and cigars.  We had to let the telescope cool down to the ambient night temperature and of course wait for the proper progression of the night sky for viewing.

I honestly do not know how we got on the topic, but the two of my friends that are in the IT profession began to tease me about being agile.  One thing lead to another and a bet was made that I could not prove I was an agile thinker in less than 5 minutes.  Normally, I do not rise to take the bait in such challenges.  However, when they put a box of Padron 1926 Anniversary series cigars and a bottle of Balvenie DoubleWood 17 year Scotch on the table, I was hooked.

The challenge was to create a new form of a chess game, complete with rules in less than 5 minutes.  It had to be interesting, novel, unique and workable.  They were going to be the judges.  Now this sounds like a stacked deck (is that a mixed metaphor because we are speaking about chess?) and it was.  My friends were honest though, and besides Daren’s wife, Gwen was kibitzing and I knew she had merciless ways of keeping them honest.

I first spilled the pieces off the board and looked at it for 15 seconds.  Then I turned the board so that one of the corners was pointing at me.  Next I began to assemble pieces on the board in various configurations until I had the following configuration:


I called it Diamond Minus Pawn Chess.  The rules of the games were the same as normal chess with the following exceptions:

  1. A player must move at least one piece into or over the diagonal squares that run across the two neutral corners before he can move any piece backwards. (This was to prevent games being too defensive.)
  2. Players start with one pawn in reserve whenever they lose a piece they can choose to replace it with that pawn on the nearest square to where their piece was lost, without putting the piece in immediate jeopardy.  They can do this for any piece and do not have to replace the first piece they lose.

As the French say, voilà!  By-the-way, I am enjoying my cigars and Scotch immensely!  You see there are many benefits to agile thinking, so till next time, keep agile!

[1] Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

About Brian Lucas

In his life, Brian Lucas has been a coach, farm worker, forester, health care advocate, life guard, general contractor, mechanic, mixologist, musician/singer (in a rock group), salesman and teacher. Brian has worked as a project manager, technical marketer, methodologist, manager, software architect, systems designer, data modeler, business analyst, systems programmer, software developer and creative writer. These efforts include over a hundred hi-tech initiatives in almost every business and industrial sector as well as government and military projects. Among them, he designed and developed a quality assurance system for the first transatlantic fiber optic communications network, a manufacturing system for a large computer manufacture’s seven manufacturing centers, a data mining system for steel production, an instrumentation system for cable systems, defined requirements for government’s information systems and designed and developed human performance management systems. Brian has educated and mentored many over the years, designing programs to discover and develop talent. He has also lectured extensively to a variety of audiences. Brian is currently devoting as much time as possible to the innovation of business agility and human capital management along with the next generation of agile software development. As an amateur theoretical physicist he is working on joining general relativity and quantum mechanics through a multidimensional time corollary on string theory and negating the uncertainty principle with Louis de Broglie’s wave/particle hypothesis. He is also an avid blue-water sailor and wilderness backpacker. He enjoys billiards, boxing, chess, cooking, famous battle reenactments and war gaming, fencing, flying, gardening, horseback riding, martial arts (particularly Ninjutsu), philosophy and psychology, playing musical instruments (7 so far), poker, rapid-fire target shooting, reading (he tries to read a new book every night), painting with oils, scuba diving, skiing and recently writing novels.
This entry was posted in Agile for Beginners, Agile Gaming, Agile Thinking, Chess and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Proving You’re Agile in under 5 Minutes

  1. Jack says:

    Brian, seeing your mind in action never ceases to astonish me. You are by far the smartest person I know! – Jack

  2. Sally says:

    Brian when are you going to market this? It sounds interesting. The fact that you came up with this is less than 5 minutes is astounding, though not surprising since I have been fortunate enough to get to know you. – Sally

  3. Jennifer says:

    Oooh Brian you will have to teach me this game! 😉 -Jennifer

  4. Aaron Blakesdale says:

    Brilliant! As Sally stated earlier you should market this or start your own chess club! Let me know if you do, I want to be the first to sign up! -AB

  5. rayneman says:

    Cool post! Want to play a game by email? Have you thought about creating an e-game version?

  6. Gordon Placket says:

    It occurs that there have to be some mental tricks that you are using to think like this. I read your post on brainstorming, but that doesn’t tell how you are actually thinking. Care to share some secrets?

  7. Fran C. Zabrinski says:

    I am so sorry I have not commented in a while Brian. I promise you that I look for your blog almost every day and often reread older posts many times. Each time I learn a little something extra. Things have gotten crazy here at the hospital since it has changed management. It is more cut, cut, cut attitude and I am going to be leaving at the end of this month to work in a private practice. I am not sure that I could follow everything about this game – I have never played a game of chess. Despite that, I recognize your genius in operation once again. You are a very special person with very special gifts. You so very kind,thoughtful and generous which makes you all the more rare. It will be one of the greatest disappointments in my life if I never get to meet you in person. Always your friend! – Frannie

  8. Jamil says:

    Glad to see you are posting more Brian. Keep educating us! 🙂

  9. Ian Baker says:

    I believe this is an excellent tactic to make a challenge in the form of a game in order to encourage a new thinking pattern. When everything we do is merely the drudgery of work, our creative aspects are seldom fully engaged.

  10. Jason says:

    I am sorry to say Brian, I would fail this test. However, I am learning, so keep posting! 🙂

  11. Rachel-R says:

    You are one clever guy Brian, how come you are not on Facebook with the rest of the world. I would love to friend you!

  12. Crystal says:

    Wow Brian! Your are not just proving your agile you’re proving you’re a GENIUS!!!! 🙂 Love to attend a webinar of yours!

  13. Arthur Chandler says:

    You have proved you are an agile genius!

  14. Constance-S says:

    I am genuinely thankful and grateful for you for sharing your advice and wisdom at Monday’s dinner. You are by far and away the most interesting dinner speaker and conversationalist I have ever met. I finally got to your blog and focused in on this post as my first read. You certainly proved to me that you are AGILE! 🙂 I look forward to our next meeting!

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