Five Ways to Handicap a Chess Game

home school chessWhen you’re teaching chess to a weaker player, the difference in chess skill makes it hard to play a game. Here are five ways to handicap the game to even the chances:

  1. Take it easy on them. You don’t want to let them get away with making bad moves (that won’t improve their chess), so don’t just pretend to not see things. But you should intentionally make mistakes of your own and help them see how to take advantage of them.
  2. Remove pieces from the stronger player. This is a traditional way to play chess with a handicap. You can remove as little as one pawn (and different pawns cause different problems) or as much as both rooks and the queen. This makes for a challenging and interesting game for the stronger player.
  3. Switch places. Play through the opening and switch places once you get into the middle game. A good time to switch is right after they make a big mistake. Switch sides and let them figure out how to take advantage of their own mistake.
  4. Let them make more moves to start the game. Give them two, three or four moves to start the game. They shouldn’t be allowed to move past the 4th rank as white (or 5th as black).
  5. Use a clock. Give the stronger player 10, 7, or even 5 minutes while the weaker player has 30 minutes or more. Kids will still stress out and try to play fast moves, so you will constantly have to remind them to slow down and think.

But whatever you do, don’t let them take back moves. That’s a bad habit to start. They should still have to take back illegal moves, such as where a piece moves incorrectly or if the move results in check or doesn’t get them out of check.

For more ideas, Wikipedia has an entire article on chess handicapping.

[photo courtesy striatic]

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 at 10:58 pm and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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