I found the phrase, “he’s always playing chess when others are playing checkers,” in today’s (September 11) article of the New York Times, written by Charles Blow under the headline of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” It reads;
The Syrian debate is too serious to be subjected to the rules of Washington’s game, even as it must be conducted by its gamesmen. It has broken down the normal tribalism of left-right, liberal-conservative constructs, and mixed folks into maddeningly contradictory coalitions.
On one side are some of President Obama’s staunchest supporters, who are always convinced that he’s the smartest man in the room, that he’s always playing chess when others are playing checkers.
Without consulting a dictionary, I can assume that “playing chess” requires strategic thinking and in-depth analysis of the situation as compared with “playing checkers," of which the scenario is more simplistic and easier to play.
The Marc Ensign website makes this distinction:
While checkers is primarily played in the moment, chess requires a complex strategy that is often won by thinking ahead.
Though I haven’t checked any English dictionaries yet, Google Ngram doesn’t show any incidence of “play chess when others are playing checkers.”
What is the currency of “play chess when others are playing checkers.”？Is it a well-used and well-received phrase?