• 17 months ago · Quote · #1

The other day I came up with this idea adressing strength imbalances in casual OTB games that I hope you'd care to comment upon.

Ever so often I play my girlfriend and friends like a healthy boy should, but almost just as often there's a problem regarding equality as far as strength goes. Case example: We'll make it into the middle game and the position seems (close to) equal for a short while and then the stronger player will spot some kind of weakness/combination or the weaker player simply blunders and voila, the position is no longer equal, which (obviously) typically results in a quick win.

In order to keep it interesting, I came up with the idea that the weaker player could simply remove material from the board a certain number of times during the game. In my girlfriends case, the handicap has been determined at a factor of two, meaning that she gets to remove some of my material at her own leisure twice during a game.

So far we've mostly been calculating the imbalances arithmetically, then having a look at the position and removing pieces which seem dangerous. It's democratic process of course, the only sub-rule being that the weaker side can't remove pieces that'll lead to - say - mate in one and goofy stuff like that.

The result of this is that we get to play more endgames which is beneficial seeing as we're both beginners. Obviously it also keeps it interesting for both parties.

There are a few quirks that probably needs adjusting, maybe someone has a good idea for improvement?

NB: I realize that we could simply play a queen, a rook or a minor down from the beginning, but I kinda like this idea better. - Oh yeah, I also realize it's bound to have been done before. :)

• 17 months ago · Quote · #2

I can't pin down the reason, but it strikes me as a good idea that might be frusrating for the player giving the handicap. I mean, you might be about to win material and then they take your piece away and it's all you can do to avoid losing more than a piece.

• 17 months ago · Quote · #3

"So I get to move material twice during the game? Ok move 1, remove queen"

• 17 months ago · Quote · #4
ChessSponge wrote:

"So I get to move material twice during the game? Ok move 1, remove queen"

He already said that that would be considered cheating.

• 17 months ago · Quote · #5

He said the only sub rule was it couldn't lead to a mate in 1, which it wouldn't.

My point being that it can work when it is you and a close friend who are doing it in a way that keeps the play exciting. But most people would simply take off the queen very early as that would give you a large advantage.

I think you'd be better off allowing the weaker person 2 take backs a game and help them by pointing out blunders they're making so they can use a take back and the game can be tougher.

• 17 months ago · Quote · #6

There should be a version of chess where pieces can be converted materially based on strength. In such a case, you could trade a knight for three extra pawns at the start of the game. I've still yet to figure out how that would fit on the board, though.

A good format that I always use is to cut the board in half, so one player cannot see the other player's half of the board. Then, each player sets up his/her pieces on that half of the board in any way he/she wants. One cannot see the other's setup until the setting up is completed.

That kind of chess would be much more fun than using handicaps.

• 17 months ago · Quote · #7
ChessSponge wrote:

He said the only sub rule was it couldn't lead to a mate in 1, which it wouldn't.

My point being that it can work when it is you and a close friend who are doing it in a way that keeps the play exciting. But most people would simply take off the queen very early as that would give you a large advantage.

I think you'd be better off allowing the weaker person 2 take backs a game and help them by pointing out blunders they're making so they can use a take back and the game can be tougher.

ok, I agree with you there.

• 17 months ago · Quote · #8

Btw, why can't you just play with a time handicap?

• 17 months ago · Quote · #9

Jtt96: It usually goes somewhat along those lines; pressure builds up to an actual attack and then the vital attacking piece is removed. It's not frustrating at all in the sense that I get to work a little harder, which is essentially good practice - also, we're all friends here, so no pressure or anything. I'm sure I wouldn't like it in a rated game, but when I'm playing friends, we're mostly inclined to discuss ideas and tactics rather than going 'head to head'.

Chesssponge: You may remove pieces when behind in material, so it's not allowed, for instance, to remove the rooks and queen before move 1.
As mentioned above it's all about getting to play through and practice the different stages of a chess game instead of just having it end early in the middle game.
Takeback games, well we used to do that, but I think this might be better, but I don't really know why...

Thanks for commenting, much appreciated :)

• 17 months ago · Quote · #10

Hmm. Well, if it works, then it sounds good. I just don't like loopholes in rulesets. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying that that is my personality.

• 17 months ago · Quote · #11
VULPES_VULPES wrote:

There should be a version of chess where pieces can be converted materially based on strength. In such a case, you could trade a knight for three extra pawns at the start of the game. I've still yet to figure out how that would fit on the board, though.

A good format that I always use is to cut the board in half, so one player cannot see the other player's half of the board. Then, each player sets up his/her pieces on that half of the board in any way he/she wants. One cannot see the other's setup until the setting up is completed.

That kind of chess would be much more fun than using handicaps.

That sounds like fun, setting up halves, I should give that one a go.
I'm not all too keen on variants alltogether, but it is good fun when you're too knackered to play a serious game or simply jaded on chess. :)

• 17 months ago · Quote · #12

You should read the 'Chess Variant Encyclopedia'. It's great. The variants range from stuff with a forced win or other game breaking factors to massive variants that have no proof of having been played.

• 17 months ago · Quote · #13
jtt96 wrote:

You should read the 'Chess Variant Encyclopedia'. It's great. The variants range from stuff with a forced win or other game breaking factors to massive variants that have no proof of having been played.

Not sure how that works out? "White to play and win" and then you paper-rock-scissor for who gets to play the losing side? :D

• 17 months ago · Quote · #14

The most standard form of odds-giving is either time odds or playing with less material from move 1, such as odds of pawn-and-move, or Kt odds etc.

In my experience few casual players (who only think they know how to play chess) will accept odds, I guess they can't admit even to themselves the possibility of someone else being good enough to spot them odds. On the other hand, maybe they just never use their heads for anything besides hat racks.

• 17 months ago · Quote · #15
vulpesVelox wrote:
jtt96 wrote:

You should read the 'Chess Variant Encyclopedia'. It's great. The variants range from stuff with a forced win or other game breaking factors to massive variants that have no proof of having been played.

Not sure how that works out? "White to play and win" and then you paper-rock-scissor for who gets to play the losing side? :D

lol, no, they are there for the sake of completeness and because someone might be able to improve upon them to create a playable game.

• 17 months ago · Quote · #16

NimzoRoy: I've seen and tried out the other ideas, but what do you mean by "Kt odds"?

As mentioned, we've tried queen odds and also diffferent odds (time odds we usually deal with simply by playing on after the flag falls), but something doesn't sit well with me about that.
In case off knight/bishop odds for instance, there is a slight advantage in terms of castling quicker, so you (kinda) get compensation, I would think?

• 17 months ago · Quote · #17

Capture a pawn, one drink.

Capture a knight or bishop, three drinks.

Capture a rook, five drinks.

Capture a queen, nine drinks.

It's not about erasing imbalances from the board; it's about compensating for them.

• 17 months ago · Quote · #18
jack_youngblood wrote:

Capture a pawn, one drink.

Capture a knight or bishop, three drinks.

Capture a rook, five drinks.

Capture a queen, nine drinks.

It's not about erasing imbalances from the board; it's about compensating for them.

Hehe, I suspect that over time this just _might_ settle the imbalance in a rather permanent fashion :S

• 17 months ago · Quote · #19

lol

• 17 months ago · Quote · #20
vulpesVelox wrote:

NimzoRoy: I've seen and tried out the other ideas, but what do you mean by "Kt odds"?   KNIGHT ODDS, White usually plays without the QKt

As mentioned, we've tried queen odds and also diffferent odds (time odds we usually deal with simply by playing on after the flag falls), but something doesn't sit well with me about that.  Why not just set different times on each clock? Maybe it doesn't sit well with you, but many others don't seem to have a problem in letting a Master spot them some time
In case off knight/bishop odds for instance, there is a slight advantage in terms of castling quicker, so you (kinda) get compensation, I would think?  Try giving Kt odds to a master and see how much compensation you end up with. The usual "compensation" consists of being good enough to beat someone who can't take advantage of the odds due to inexperience or ineptitude.

Random notes: When spotting the QR, White's pawn on a2 is set up on a3 initially. Most games at piece odds involve removing a Q-side piece.

Masters often give amateurs 5 minutes time to their 2 minutes in blitz chess.

Max Lange used to give "capped Kt" odds forcing him to checkmate with the "capped Kt" which if captured, meant he automatically lost the game