Kings and queens, knights and pawns, side by side at the Big 100.

By Rob Kinslow, Senior Strategist, Brand Communication

These past few days we at KHJ have been in conversation with a company in France, and the communications have all been in French. Fortunately, our executive VP, Sylvie Askins, is a native French speaker and has been handling the e-mail exchanges with ease.

Me, I’ve been trying to recall my college courses in basic French so that I might decipher a word or two of the lettres landing in my inbox. I’m chagrined that I don’t remember much. But I do remember some French my son, Jay, taught me when he was 11 years old.

We were playing chess one afternoon and early in the game, I moved a pawn two squares forward from its starting position. It landed right next to one of Jay’s pawns. He then moved his pawn diagonally to the square behind my pawn—and took my pawn away.

“It’s called en passant,” Jay calmly replied. “In passing. You can do it the first time your opponent moves a pawn two squares forward and it lands next to one of yours.” He saw my look of incredulity. “It’s an actual rule, Dad. It’s in the book.”

“The book” was The Usborne Complete Book of Chess, which I had in fact given Jay. I checked, and he was right. I had only myself to blame.

So there I was the other night, side by side with medtech royalty at the MassDevice Big 100 East – which this year featured six CEOs, each offering astute and even poignant observations about surviving mergers and acquisitions and life in the corner office. Queens, kings, knights and bishops of the industry, along with pawns like me who work on the front lines of medtech marketing. And I thought, this industry – like every other industry, I suppose – is like a chess game. So many moving parts … not just balance sheets and earnings per share, but people and cultures and jobs. You need to think two or three steps ahead every time you make a move.

Chess was on my mind because earlier in the evening, I had shown as part of KHJ’s presentation a collapsible chess set made of paper as an example of a changed game – to fit with the Big 100 theme of game-changing and news-making. This particular chess set folds up with all pieces staying right where you left them, so you can unfold it later and pick up where you left off if your game gets interrupted (as they often do).

I thought it was a pretty cool invention. Little did I know that as the evening wound down, and some of us were headed to a speakers’ dinner, that I would end up meeting Dean Kamen, one of the most renowned inventors of our time. You can read his thoughts on medtech elsewhere on this site. It was a chance encounter. In passing. En passant. A bonus move at the end of a great night. Just shows that you never know what might happen once you decide to take a few steps forward.

Now it’s your move. You can download your own foldable chess set, compliments of KHJ, here. Have fun and enjoy!