Chess is a game of strategy and tactics; skills that are considered transferable to many life lessons.
Sometimes, the characters we love are like this singular white pawn facing down all the pieces in black. It’s rather intimidating. What’s even harder to face? The realization that they may have been an “Unwitting Pawn” in the evil machinations of their foe.
How does this happen? Many villains get to where they are by combining both the strategic and tactical elements learned in Chess.
Strategy is the end game. Voldemort often played the strategy game, slowly putting the pieces in place to advance to the next stage in his plan (like the year long setup to get Harry into the cemetery in Goblet of Fire). And Voldemort is certainly unconcerned with the short term casualties. Continuing with the Goblet of Fire as our example, anyone who helped Harry win each task (Hermione helping him practice the summoning charm for the first task, or Neville – or Dobby – giving Harry the gilliweed for the second task) were unwitting pawns in Voldemort’s game to have Harry win the TriWizard Tournament.
Tactics are the short term maneuvers that can be constantly adjusted as circumstances change. In the beginning of the Truth Series by Dawn Cook, Bailic’s tactic was to convince Master Talo-Toecan to reveal the location of the book First Truth. When Strell and Alissa came knocking on his door on the eve of the first snowfall, his tactic changed. He knew one of them would be able to find First Truth for him. Bailic was able to make a 180 turn on his path to get to his goal of holding First Truth in his hands. Strell and Alissa were unwitting pawns in his search, their every move followed even before they realized the game they were playing. (And unwitting falling asleep at the wrong time almost spelled disaster!)
So the next time you’re facing a major decision (or just squaring off on a game of chess), remember you have two objectives: your strategy is to win (or create your desired ending) and your tactic is your steps to make that happen (making sure you leave yourself flexibility to adjust to curve balls thrown your way).