A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 18, 2013
“A bad plan is better than no plan” (chess adage)

"A bad plan is better than no plan (at all)” is a popular chess adage that is also used in business. Chess champion Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941) wrote in Chess Strategy (1915):

“An unsound scheme, even if worked out to its logical conclusion, can of course be of no value. All the same it is better than no plan at all.”

“It has often been said that a bad plan is better than no plan” was written in a 1945 chess book by Reuben Fine (1914-1994). Early citations were printed in the newspaper columns on contract bridge by a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ely_Culbertson">Ely Culbertson (1891-1955). “A bad plan is better than none” was written by Culbertson in 1931.

“Any plan at all, even a bad plan, is better than none” was cited in An Encyclopedia of Gardening (1824) by John Claudius Loudon. “Any plan is better than no plan at all” was cited in an 1862 newspaper story on the war policy of the Civil War.


Google Books
An Encyclopedia of Gardening
Comprising the Theory and Practise of Horticulture, Floriculture, Arboriculture, and Landscape-Gardening

By John Claudius Loudon
London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green
1824
Pg. 1144:
Any plan at all, even a bad plan, is better than none; because those who set out on any plan will, in all probability, sooner discover its errors, if a bad one, and correct them, than those, who set out on no plan, will discover the want of one, and form a good plan.

6 August 1862, Massachusetts Spy (Worcester, MA), pg. 4, col. 7:
WAR POLICY.—The commander-in-chief has inaugurated a new policy for conducting the war. Any plan is better than no plan at all.

Google Books
Chess Strategy
By Eduard Lasker
Translated by Julius Du Mont
London: G. Bell & Sons
1915
Pg. 110:
An unsound scheme, even if worked out to its logical conclusion, can of course be of no value. All the same it is better than no plan at all.

Google News Archive
19 December 1931, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Culbertson on Contract” by Ely Culbertson, pg. 10, cols. 1-2:
I cannot too strongly advise that any one wishing to become proficient in the play of Contract, prepare his plan— a bad plan is better than none — but practice in the making of plans will soon result in an increasing number of perfect ones.

Google News Archive
10 March 1932, The Evening Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario), “Culbertson System” by Mrs. Ely Culbertson, pg. 9, col. 2:
Even a bad plan Is better than none, as aimless playing of the cards is an open Invitation to disaster.

Google Books
Chess Marches On!:
A vivid record of chess activities in the leading centers of the world

By Reuben Fine
New York, NY: Chess Review, distributed by D. McKay, Philadelphia
1945
Pg. 34:
It has often been said that a bad plan is better than no plan; by the same line of reasoning, one good plan is worth more than a good one plus a bad one neither of which is carried out properly.

New York (NY) Times
Chess: Pick a Plan, Any Plan (It’s Better Than Nothing at All); Road to Nowhere
By ROBERT BYRNE
January 21, 1973,
Section General, Page 66, Column , words
[ DISPLAYING ABSTRACT ]
It’s often said that a bad’ plan is better than none, and there is some point to this cynicism; a plan of whatever, quality must involve some kind of integration of a series of moves, whereas disorganized fumbling cannot help but end in disaster.

Google Books
The Psychology of Chess Skill
By D. H. Holding
Hillsdale, NJ: L. Erlbaum Assoc.
1985
Pg. 234:
Chess writers usually give a good deal of attention to planning, as instanced by the view endorsed by Krogius (1976) that even a bad plan is better than no plan at all.

OCLC WorldCat record
Three Moves Ahead : What Chess Can Teach You About Business.
Author: Bob Rice
Publisher: Chichester : John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
Edition/Format: eBook : Document : English
Summary: Three Moves Ahead shows how classic chess strategies address the #1 problem of Information Age executives: how to move quickly in the face of incalculable complexities and unexpected change. This witty and novel guide, written for non-players, is packed with scores of real-world examples showing how top CEOs use Grandmaster techniques to win on Wall Street. Readers will see how a “strong square” strategy drove Adobe’s rise from niche player to industry giant, as well as Western Union’s success through a hundred years of technology changes. They’ll learn how AOL has played a crucial “exchange s
Contents:
... A BAD PLAN IS BETTER THAN NO PLAN; ...

Twitter
siddhartha aneja‏
@siddharthaaneja
RT @GordieM: Chess Proverb: a bad plan is better than no plan http://myloc.me/7Ac0b
11:17 AM - 29 May 10

New York (NY) Times
Chess
On TV, Bored Ex-Champion Turns to Fighting Crime

By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN
Published: April 7, 2012
(...)
Jacobson said he made efforts to sprinkle chess terms and real players’ quotations in the dialogue. In one episode, Balagan quotes Emanuel Lasker, a former world champion who died in 1941: “A bad plan is better than no plan at all.”

Twitter
ChessQuotes‏
@chess_chat
A bad plan is better than none at all.  - Frank Marshall
11:38 AM - 27 Jun 13

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Sunday, August 18, 2013 • Permalink