At Odds With My Student

Greetings Chess Players. My name is Chris Torres and this is my daily chess musing for January 9, 2021.

In chess, we call starting the game with a material handicap playing “at odds.” I enjoy playing my private students games at odds because it is both a simple and fun way to compensate for the difference in skill between a teacher and a student. After each student victory, I lower the odds given and in this way, my students are rewarded with a more challenging experience for each achievement.

Of course, I didn’t invent the idea of giving odds in chess but rather learned the practice by studying the games of the great 19th century masters. Any fan of Paul Morphy has also come across many of his attacking masterpieces played at odds. Another master of the 19th century, Howard Staunton was also a proponent for the practice of giving odds in chess. In fact, in his 1849 work, The Chess Players Companion, Staunton devoted more than half of the 510 pages to the art of giving odds. I still follow many of Staunton’s suggestions on odds giving to allow my students to have equal chances at winning. Sadly though, playing chess with fun handicaps began to fall out of fashion during the late 19th century and has now all but disappeared outside of lesson format. Perhaps, with so many advancements in computer chess engines, playing at odds will gain popularity in the near future by making man vs machine matches competitive again. Personally I hope so because, starting a game with a material deficit fundamentally changes the opening strategy and thus forces the odds giver to be more creative during the early going. 

[Event “** ?”]

[Site “?”]

[Date “2021.01.09”]

[Round “?”]

[White “Student”]

[WhiteElo “”]

[Black “Chris”]

[BlackElo “”]

[Result “0-1”]

[FEN “rnbqkbn1/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQq -“]

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.dxe6 Bxe6 5.d4 Bb4+ 6.Nc3 Ne4 7.Qb3 Qxd4 8.Qxb4

Qxf2+ 9.Kd1 Nxc3+ 10.bxc3 Nc6 11.Qxb7 Rd8+ 12.Bd3 Rxd3+ 13.Bd2 Qxd2#


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Published by chessmusings

Chris Torres is a nationally renowned scholastic chess coach working in the San Francisco Bay Area. His classes have attracted players of strengths ranging from rank beginners to world champions. A chess professional since 1998, Chris is widely recognized as one of the main driving forces behind the explosion in popularity and sudden rise in quality of scholastic chess in California. Chris Torres served as the President of the Torres Chess and Music Academy from 2005-2020 and currently is recognized as a correspondence chess master with the United States Chess Federation. Since 1998 Chris Torres has taught 6 individual national champions as well as led multiple school teams to win national championship titles. In addition, Chris Torres has directed and taught at 10 different schools which have been California State Champions at chess. In 2011 and 2012, several former and current students of Chris Torres have been selected to represent the United States at the World Youth Chess Championships. Mr. Torres’ hobbies include playing classical guitar and getting his students to appear on the national top 100 chess rating lists.

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