Donald Trump… the Scandinavian?

Politics and Chess

Politics are often characterized in terms of a chess match, and in chess, the most popular contemporary opening for white is to move e2-e4. This means jumping the king’s pawn to the center in an attempt to establish control. There are many different strategies that black can deploy in defense with their opening move, but one popular strategy is known as the Scandinavian defense. To start this defense, black plays d7-d5, setting up a pawn exchange. When white accepts this exchange and takes the pawn, black can then recapture by bringing the queen out to the center of the board on their second turn: a high-risk, high-reward strategy.

Donald Trump’s Twitter Dominance

An experienced player deploying the Scandinavian defense can make quick work of a novice opponent by using their hyperactive queen to take control of the game. Donald Trump employs this same sort of tactic through his use of Twitter, confusing a political establishment that has not yet adapted to the medium of the day. By forcing his opponents to “chase the queen,” Trump is two or three steps ahead of opponents who are focused on the scandal of the day rather than looking at the big picture. In other words, Trump is able to win the social media war precisely because he’s always losing battles.


In terms of the chess match, after the Scandinavian opening it is common for the players to castle on opposite sides, setting up an aggressive game. This further lends credence to this analogy: “aggressive” is the perfect descriptive word for Trump’s social media activity. In chess, the danger of playing the Scandinavian defense is that if the queen is lost, the secondary lines of defense are often weak or even non-existent. For example, in real life cornering Donald Trump into actually answering a specific policy question often causes him to stumble and fall apart.

One of Mark Twain’s most famous attributed quotes poses the following question: “Do you ever wonder if the world is run by smart people who are just putting us on, or idiots who really mean it?” While a majority of people hold an opinion close to the latter when talking about Donald Trump, solely for the purpose of this article I assert that Donald Trump is, in fact, in the former camp. Keeping this in mind should inform strategy going forward for those who wish to make certain that Donald Trump is a one-term President.

The Game Going Forward

In so many words, the Scandinavian defense’s strategy is the reason that Donald Trump is currently the President of the United States. Chess is a game with three phases, and Donald Trump unequivocally won the opening phase by ascending to the Presidency. The contemporary political atmosphere is equivalent to the mid-game, and for his opponents to win they must take his queen – by that I mean either finding a way to go more viral on social media or stopping Trump’s constant scandals from leading the news every morning. Either way, the 2020 election campaign will be the end game of this chess match, and a quick chess lesson may be all it takes to dislodge Trump from his Presidential throne.

Leave a Reply