Anne Squared

Life filtered through the lens of an INTJ, Mom, and healthcare professional.

Checkmate – (or Playtime!)

Giant chess game in Franklin Square, Hobart, T...

INTJ women are rather unusual rare, approximately 0.8 percent of the population, according to the source I am using for this article. ( While we have the ability to develop our less dominant “preferences” as we mature, there is one thing that does not stop – our thought process.

By preference, we like to analyze, evaluate and improve – anything. We ask questions – “Why do you do it this way?” “Is there a reason it is not done…?” It is part of our learning and processing of new information. Over the years, I have learned if the person being asked the questions is not understanding of the INTJ personality – the quest to understand and learn – or, if they are insecure in their knowledge, or lacking in self-esteem, the INTJ’s questioning will be seen as an attack on credentials or position of power (a teacher, supervisor, etc.)

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...If an INTJ is put in a defensive position by someone who is threatened by questions, our response, by default, is to … yes… question and analyze more data to make better sense of things. Talk about a vicious circle – our coping mechanism to stress causes more stress for people that are challenged by the way we think and learn.

INTJ personalities also have an unusual combination of both decisiveness and vivid imagination. What this means in practice is that they can both design a brilliant plan and execute it. Imagine a giant chess board where the pieces are constantly moving, trying out new tactics, always directed by an unseen hand – this is what the INTJ’s imagination is like. An INTJ would assess all possible situations, calculate strategic and tactical moves, and more often than not develop a contingency plan or two as well.

Oh, yes. That is what my mind is like. Always. This is why I don’t play chess. Do you have any idea how many possible scenarios there are in a chess game? I couldn’t even find a source with a definite answer! A chess game move = one/player. Popular Science, January 2011 calculates the possibilities:

Some have estimated is at around 10^100,000. Out of those, about 10^120 games are ‘typical’: about 40 moves long with an average of 30 choices per move. There are only 10^15 total hairs on all the human heads in the world, 10^23 grains of sand on Earth, and about 10^81 atoms in the universe. The number of typical chess games is many times as great as all those numbers multiplied together…

Does anyone really care? Seems, so –

Hardy (1999, p. 17) estimated the number of possible games of chess as 10^(10^(50)). The number of possible games of 40 moves or less P(40) is approximately 10^(40) (Beeler et al. 1972), a number arrived at by estimating the number of pawn positions (in the no-captures situation, this is 15^8), multiplying by the possible positions for all pieces, then dividing by two for each of the (rook, knight) pairs that are interchangeable, and dividing by two for each pair of bishops (since half the positions will have the bishops on the same color squares). (

Now I know why I don’t play chess. It is not relaxing. My mind is always “playing chess” whether I want it to or not. Granted, my sleeping brain has “highlighted” my erroneous organic chem formulas – and I will awaken with a start to correct a worksheet I thought was completed correctly. Stuff like that. Helpful and practical.

I think I’m going to go play in the sandbox for a bit. Rock-Paper-Scissors, anyone?

Deutsch: Düne beim Dead vlei, Namibia. Françai...

Deutsch: Düne beim Dead vlei, Namibia. Français : Une dune dans le Dead vlei, en Namibie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Categories: INTJ and INTP

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11 replies

  1. I hate playing strategy games, but if someone forces me to concentrate, I will beat them every time. You are right – it’s not relaxing for me; it wears me out.

  2. Hi,

    As a fellow INTJ, your piece totally resonates with me. I’m particularly keen on our ability to think and vision on multiple different levels with a variety of scenarios and then execute decisively. Folks I’ve worked with found it daunting and intimidating combined wiht the curiousity and questioning. I’ve had to learn ways to fold others in or hold my INTJ tendencies at bay.

    Good piece.


    • Hi Jenny,

      Thanks for your input. Adaptability. 🙂

      If I am in a leadership position, I believe I should “flex” to accommodate those I am mentoring or supervising. That is the premiss of good mentoring and assisting development of others. Historically, the nature of my job likely pulled in other INTJ’s or INTJ compatible people – so not a huge issue on the questioning.

      Grad school the model was rolled out throughout the medical school that teachers and leaders flexed to the students. What an incredible learning environment!

      I agree – the real world is puzzled. But let me throw this out to you and anyone else you may want to answer – how do you deal with a broken system when everyone else sits quietly by and ignores it?

      • Great thoughts. I agree that the mentoring or coaching model has been most effective to meet people where they are. I have been in several leadership roles. What I find that I must always remind myself to slow down and break things down…since so much of my thinking is done off the radar.

        I do poorly with broken systems or processes. Very, very poorly! I typically find myself ramped up to solve the problem(s) with a myriad of practical solutions. I’ve also had to teach myself to see and understand when a system is available for change and when it is not.

  3. I’m an INFJ. When I read about the portrait of this personality type, I was surprised at how close it was to my personality!

  4. This would explain why I am not very good at being interrupted in my thoughts. It’s so hard to remember not only all the ‘moves’ but also where I was up to in the strategy for each of those moves. No wonder I look confused all the time.

    • Looking “lost in thought”, “disinterested”, “angry”, ” confused” are often terms applied when we thinking things through. We often don’t even know we are in that “zone.” I know if I am working on a complex project, I need at least a good 5 minutes to bring my mind out of deep thought mode to so I can focus fully on the an issue or question unrelated to my task. (Or my answer may be one they don’t really want to hear…or I may not even be aware that I answered them.)

      About a month ago I was working on a project at home and my daughter asked the question: “I lost a small snap in the lining of my big purse. Do we have a magnet and will it find it?”
      My response (as I kept working): “I don’t know if we do or not. If we do, it will depend on the metal content of the snap and the strength of the magnet. Do you know what the item is made of? If we have one it will be in the drawer to the left of the refrigerator unless you want to use a weak magnet from on the refrig. – just put it back.”
      My daughter: “MOM – why can’t you just say ‘Yes, maybe it will work, try it.’ ”
      Me: “Try what?”

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