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A Beginner’s Guide to Chess Betting

Chess is one of, if not the, oldest board games in the world. There is a theory that it appeared in India more than 1500 years ago and was known as Chaturanga. While chess may not seem like the most obvious sport to bet on, there are regular tournaments taking place around the world and each of them brings many betting opportunities. If you are looking to get started betting on chess then you have arrived in the right place. In this guide, we will teach you about the game, the different bets you can place, and a bit about how to do your research prior to betting.  

Chess Basics 

While chess is a complicated game that people can spend a lifetime mastering, the basic rules are very easy to understand.  

Two people using a board with 64 cells on it play the game. Each player has a number of pieces, with various different roles and names. The pieces are differentiated by colour, black and white, and they are initially set up on the back two rows of the left and right edges of the board. The main aim of the game is to attack the opponent’s King and prevent the King from making any moves, which is known as checkmate.  

On the outer edge, the Rooks, which look like a small castle tower, are positioned in the corners, next to them is a Knight, which looks like a horse. These are followed by the Bishops, and then finally the King and Queen. On the next row in there are Pawns on every position. The Pawns can move one space at a time, except for the first move, when they can move two spaces. At the beginning, players have 8 Pawns, 2 Rooks, 2 Knights, 2 Bishops, 1 Queen and 1 King. When a piece lands on an occupied square, it is claimed and removed from the board.  

To explain briefly: 

  • Pawns move one space at a time vertically, and when taking an opponent’s piece, diagonally. 
  • Rooks can move vertically or horizontally through any unoccupied cells. 
  • Knights can move in an L shape, meaning two squares in one direction and then one square in a different direction. 
  • Bishops move diagonally through any unoccupied cells. 
  • The Queen can move in any straight-line direction, vertically, horizontally, and diagonally, for as many cells as are available.  
  • The King is the most important piece on the board, when he is captured or cannot escape, then the game is lost. The King can move just one square at a time. 

    There are many different chess tournaments that you can bet on. The Chess World Championship takes place every two years, normally in September and October. It is the premier title in the game and attracts the most attention. While anyone can enter, there is also a Women’s Chess World Championship and a World Junior Chess Championship. To win the event, a player must win a total of twelve games. 

    There is also the Grand Chess Tour, which is an annual circuit of events taking place each year. Another major event is the Chess Olympiad, which is a team event competed by players across the world each year.  

    Betting on Chess 

    When you look at the betting markets for chess, you may be surprised just how many are available. There are markets that apply to individual games and markets that apply to the tournament as a whole. Here we shall take you through the most popular chess betting markets to help you get started.  

    Match Winner 

    This is the easiest bet to use and the most popular. It is simply a bet on which of the two players will win the match. As long as your chosen player wins, then you win the bet.  

    Handicap Betting  

    Sometimes one player will be a clear favourite, which means that they will attract more bets and have far shorter odds. In order to make the odds more favourable on the underdog, a points handicap may be applied. This means that the favourite will have a certain number of points deducted from the total while the underdog will have that number added. If you back the favourite, you win the bet if they still win after the deduction. If you back the underdog, you win the bet if they win after the points have been added.  

    Opening Move 

    There are many possible opening moves in chess and some of them have been given different names. The opening move is very important as it can give an insight into a player’s strategy. This market allows you to bet on which opening move, or strategy, you think a player will begin with. 

    Number of Moves 

    This is often presented as an over/under bet. You will be betting on the total number of moves in a game (between both players). The market will present a number and you simply bet on whether you think there will be more (over) or less (under) than that number of moves. 

    Teams to be Relegated 

    If you are betting on a tournament that involves a number of teams, then you can use this market to bet on which team will be relegated to the next stage or phase of the tournament.  

    In-Play Betting 

    In-play betting, or live betting, is an interesting way to make watching chess more exciting. It will allow you to bet on a match as it is taking place. The odds are updated as the game progresses to reflect the action and you will be able to make use of many different markets. For instance, you might be able to bet on the next player to capture a piece, how many more moves there are left in the game, which player will win, which piece will be captured next, and so on. It is always worth having a close look at these markets as you may spot some good opportunities.  

    Tournament Betting 

    You do not necessarily have to bet on individual games, you can also bet on tournaments as a whole. The most basic of these bets is the outright winner bet, i.e. which player will win the tournament. However, you may find many more markets that relate to a tournament, such as those that deal with teams or runners-up. It is always worth exploring these markets to see what is available and as a general rule, the earlier you place your bets, the more generous the odds will be.  

    What to Consider When Betting on Chess 

    As with any sport, the key to betting on chess is to do careful research in advance. While there can never be a guarantee that you will win your bet, the more research you are able to do, the better your chances will be.  

    The good news is that betting on chess is far simpler than playing it. You can start by looking at the ELO rating systems, which is a great tool for comparing different players’ skill sets and looking to see if one may have an advantage. It is used by various organisations to estimate the strength of a team or player. It is based upon a player’s/team’s performance and it is approved and used by FIDE. You will find information such as a player’s age, nationality, and their rankings for classic, rapid, and blitz chess types. It will also provide insights into players’ recent performances.  

    Of course, it is important to be aware of the players’ histories. You can look into historical results between them, and also look at how they have played, their traps set, plays made, and attacking styles. It can also help you gain insights into players’ openings, their recent inspirations, and the strategies they have recently used.  

    While chess players may not make headlines in the same way as football players do, you should see if you can find any information about what a player has been doing recently outside of chess tournaments. The internet is a powerful resource and any information you find may help you plan your bets. For instance, if you read that a player has been ill recently, then they may not be at their best.  

    In the same vein, you should be doing your best to watch as much chess as possible and to learn as much about the sport as you can. While you do not need to have a grandmaster’s knowledge of strategies, getting to grips with the basics can only help. Of course, this is far from simple, but even just reading beginner’s introductions to the different strategies is worthwhile.  

    In short, before placing bets on chess, do as much research as you can. With a bit of luck, your strategizing can then be just as advanced as the players that you are betting on, and this may then lead to many winning bets.  


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