Chess is a long used analogy. It exists throughout literature and in film as a variety of defining symbols. In one instance the game is utilized to express a character's intelligence, in another it becomes the futile struggle of attempting to outwit death, on occasion it reflects the sick reality of a few men passively deciding the fate of others in war, et cetera, etc. The game is almost made to be a symbol which its history reflects.
Chess didn't start out as the game we know today. It began in sixth century India. Then known as Chaturanga it was played by four players and utilized dice. The exact rules are unknown, but it is clear that the game evolved over time. First it transformed into Shatranj which looks more familiar to modern chess. Over the centuries the game migrated to Europe where in the 1200s it transformed into the game most recognize today. A simple glance at the pieces even confirms this since the board consists of what could be called a typical European style monarchy. At present 600 million people play chess worldwide making it the most popular board game on the planet. As such it's easy to see why Chess is frequently used as an analogy; Not only do we all know about, but in a strange way it's a part of our history.
Little goes further to prove that point than the epic contest between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. Those who didn't grow up under the Cold War's grim realities won't readily appreciate the significance of this game. Suffice it to say the US and Soviets fought their battles in competitive arenas, particularly sporting events like the Olympics. During the Cold War games took on global significance. Regardless of their personal interests, Spassky and Fischer were never just fighting for Grandmaster status. They became living symbols of two embittered countries seeking to prove intellectual superiority over one another. But that's just the thing. Regardless of one's understanding of the game its implications are clear. Chess is a game that demonstrates intellectual prowess. If you see two people seated at a board (whether in films, real life, or your imagination vis-à-vis reading) you don't need to know the rules or theories of the game to recognize that the victor is usually the more intelligent. Which makes sense when one considers the full range of thinking ahead as it applies to Chess.
The best players always talk about foreseeing moves, considering the possible movements and playing accordingly. This means considering four hundred potential opening maneuvers. Don't think so? Each player at the start of a match has twenty moves s/he can make. From there the numbers get even larger. Some chess masters have posited the notion, if all potential moves are taken into consideration, there might be as many as 10 to the 45th power. In other words, on an 8X8 grid with just 16 pieces to command, one can possibly perform as many maneuvers as there are stars in our galaxy. And because of this only a few people can ever really reach a masters' understanding of the game. (Granted no one really thinks in advance to the fullest extent while playing, but the game does require the consideration of multiple scenarios across ever expanding tributaries. Consider the game like this: the start is a trunk which grows branches along which one can navigate. However, only one limb leads to a preferable outcome, but it's necessary to know where all the other branches might lead in order to plan a path; You have to know where you might go in order to get where you want to be.)
Oddly enough, despite this epic implication of near infinity, Chess shows the importance of limitation. The more squares the more pieces the more possibilities. But being set within the confines of the existing board Chess shrinks to a comprehensible scenario. One can consider a limited number of outcomes rather than speculating on the whole, which is really the secret to victory. After all, as the game progresses the amount of potential moves diminishes. In a way, the entire purpose of the game is to limit one's opponent to a single choice. Thus making Chess analogous to debate and decision making.
So what does this all mean? That chess encapsulates the whole of human history in its own past and the way it's played -- Chess evolved over time to be a reflection of society as a whole through which one can sample the infinite though only very few ever really comprehend it fully (many times those few -- Akiba Rubinstein, Paul Morphy, Bobby Fischer -- eventually suffering from crippling mental instability). That's one way to look at it. More so one should keep in mind the meaning of the symbols we use on a regular basis. Analogous concepts exist throughout society, especially since everything humans do is in reference to something else. Just look at advertising. No product is ever meant to stand for its use. Fine clothes are an expression of sophistication, class, and wealth. Cars imply a variety of things: material status, dreams of youth, sexual prowess, strength. Drinking the right beer makes you the coolest person in the room. The thing is to keep these matters in mind. What we think, and why we think it because how we perceive our world is in direct relation to how we interact with it.