Chess is a classic game of strategy that has been around for hundreds of years. Did you know that you can bet on competitive chess online? While chess is not a “sport” in a traditional sense (though it is still classified as a sport), it involves tactics, stamina and speed, and can be just as exhilarating to wager on!
This post is your in-depth guide to betting on chess. You will learn about the types of bets you can make on chess, strategies for handicapping chess, and more. Before we jump into those topics, however, let’s share the sites where you can bet on chess.
Best Sportsbooks for Betting on Chess
Here are some of the top sportsbooks online for betting on chess as of 2023.
If there is one site we can count on to offer action on just about everything, it is Bovada. At the time of this writing, Bovada is taking bets on the Speed Chess Championship. We feel confident that they also will offer betting on other major chess tournaments throughout the year.
Signing up at Bovada entitles you to a $750 Crypto Sport Welcome Bonus and a $3,750 Crypto Casino Bonus. You can also get access to exclusive promotions if you have a Crypto Membership (it is up to you whether you want to upgrade to this status or not).
Bovada is still showing some match bonuses for non-crypto deposits, but the bonuses are getting so much better if you do switch over to crypto. That’s just a little something to think about.
Other promotions include $5K in Crypto, a 100% Poker Welcome Bonus, and cash-back through Bovada’s Rewards Program.
The next site we recommend for betting on chess is MyBookie. While we do not see them offering action on the Speed Chess Championship that Bovada is taking bets on, we know that they have accepted wagers before on the World Chess Championship.
There is a Welcome Bonus of up to $1,000 when you open a new account at MyBookie. Additional promotions at MyBookie include a 10% Cash Bonus up to $200, a $150 Casino Bonus up to $750, an Up to 50% Sports Reload Bonus, an 8% Horse Rebate, and more.
Cloudbet is ideal for those who are in search of a high quality crypto-centric sports betting and casino experience. At the time of this writing, we do not see any chess bets, but there is a chess betting section on the site. It seems likely that you can wager on the biggest chess tournaments at Cloudbet.
What about promotions? This is an area where Cloudbet will knock your socks off. The welcome bonus is up to 5 BTC. Where else will you find an offer like that?
Cloudbet also has a Loyalty Club and a cool marketplace where you can customize promotions and exchange points for other exciting rewards like luxury cars and watches.
A Brief History of Chess
Now that you know where you can bet on chess, let’s go over what you should know about the history of this game of strategy.
When we picture chess, many of us default to mental images of chessboards with European-style pieces representing medieval military units. But the origins of chess actually are with an Indian game known as chaturanga.
This game made its way to Persia, where it evolved into a new game called Shatranj. This game in turn was adopted by Arabs, and then made its way to Italy and Spain.
Numerous variants of chess came into existence as the game made its way around the world and different cultures all added their own twists.
Eventually, around 1500 CE, the game turned into something close to chess as we know it today.
It may intrigue you to learn that the etymology of the phrase “checkmate” comes from Persia. Persian players’ kings on chessboards were shāhs. When they were able to take down their opponents’ shāh, they would announce in Persian that their player’s shāh was helpless. The phrase for this was, “shāh māt.”
There is some debate about the specific translation of this phrase, but you can see how over time “shāh māt” evolved into the modern phrase “checkmate.”
Interestingly enough, over the long centuries chess has been played, there have been entire “eras” and schools of chess with different playing styles. These have been known by names like Romantic, Scientific, Hypermodern and New Dynamism.
The Growth of Competitive Chess
As we mentioned before, chess as we know it today can be traced back to about 1500 CE. Not surprisingly, competitive chess came about not long after. We cannot be certain when the first tournament happened, but the first one that was written down was in El Escorial, Spain, in 1575.The winner was a player named Leonardo di Bona.
We also know that by the 19th century, chess tournaments had become popular and widespread. Some of these tournaments were notoriously slow. During one London match, it was recorded that a player spent almost two and a half hours deciding what move to make next!
Naturally, this was a frustrating situation for other competitors as well as audience members, so speed chess was developed.
Although chess tournaments had been taking place since the 16th century, the first modern one is widely considered to be an 1851 tournament in London. That event’s winner was a German player named Adolf Anderssen.
Chess tournaments remained popular through the remainder of the 19th century, and throughout the 20th century.
During recent years, competitive chess has become an even bigger deal. In the past, people really didn’t get to watch competitive chess unless they were near a local tournament, or involved enough in chess to travel.
But then livestreaming online came along. Now, it is much easier to watch chess tournaments. And actually, the experience of streaming a chess tournament on your device is arguably better than attending a tournament to watch in person. You can see what is going on much better. That also makes it easier and more fun to bet on chess tournaments.
Is Chess a Sport?
Some people may feel confused at the notion of chess being a sport. After all, no one is running around on a field, court or track. Nevertheless, chess is considered to be a sport.
Britannica says, “A sport may gain IOC [International Olympic Committee] recognition but not become a competing event at the Olympic Games. Bowling and chess are recognized sports, but they do not compete at the Games.”
It is a pretty big deal for the IOC to say that chess is a sport.
You might be wondering what a sport actually is. Definitions vary, but most state that a sport needs to involve physical exertion and skill, usually in a competitive context.
Chess is certainly competitive. It is largely a mental game, but it does require physical stamina since players need to focus so hard for extended periods of time.
People will continue to debate whether chess is really a sport, but we are going to go with the IOC’s position on this one. Chess is not a “traditional” sport, but it is still a sport.
Weird Trivia: Chess Boxing is a Thing
While we are talking about chess being a sport, I have to take this moment to draw your attention to the existence of chess boxing.
Chess boxing is exactly what it sounds like: a sport that combines chess with boxing. Over the course of a match, the players alternate between timed chess and boxing for 11 rounds.
It is possible to win a match of chess boxing either through a checkmate or a knockout. There are other ways to win as well, depending on how the action unfolds.
It only takes a moment of thinking about this to understand why chess boxing is a fascinating and genius concept.
Imagine having to switch back and forth between sitting at a board making tactical decisions with chess and boxing in a ring. I don’t know about you, but I would find it pretty hard to think clearly about chess if I had just been throwing and dodging punches in a boxing ring!
Likewise, getting back in the ring right after focusing on chess would be a challenge too.
Chess boxing players not only need to be great at playing chess and boxing, but they need to master that ability to physically and mentally switch tracks quickly and repeatedly through increasing mental and physical fatigue.
Chess Events to Bet On
Now you know more about the history of chess. We have also established that chess is a sport, even though it is not a traditional one. But what chess events can you place wagers on?
- World Chess Championship
One of the most important chess events is the World Chess Championship, which has a history dating all the way back to 1886. There have been some variations in scheduling over the years, but during the current era, the World Championship occurs every two years. For many, wagering on the World Chess Championship serves as an introduction to the world of betting on competitive chess.
The current organizer for the World Chess Championship is FIDE. This abbreviation is short for the “International Chess Federation.” FIDE organizes multiple important chess events.
The World Chess Championship is a match between the previous World Champion and whoever wins the Candidates Tournament (more on that in just a bit).
- Speed Chess Championship
Another major event in chess that you can bet on is the Speed Chess Championship. To give you an idea of what to expect, here is the description for the 2023 event:
“The 2023 Speed Chess Championship (SCC) presented by Coinbase is the strongest online speed chess event in the world. Starting on September 4, the event features a $150,000 prize fund and the best blitz and bullet chess players.”
Naturally, speed chess lends well to betting. You can be assured that the matches will not go on for ridiculously long periods of time, and you can enjoy the added excitement that comes with chess being timed. You will find that timed formats are especially well-suited to live betting.
- Candidates Tournament
One FIDE-organized tournament that deserves special note is the Candidates Tournament, sometimes also called the Candidates Matches. You are going to want to follow this tournament since it is the last qualifier for the World Chess Championship.
You might be able to bet on the Candidates Tournament at some sportsbooks. But even if you cannot, just following news on this tournament can give you a much stronger understanding of the contender for the World Chess Championship. That knowledge will place in you in a better position for making profitable bets on the championship.
- Tata Steel Chess Tournament
The Tata Steel Chess Tournament takes place every January in the Netherlands. Previous names for the tournament include Hoogovens Tournament and Corus Chess Tournament. The event is sometimes referred to as the “Wimbledon of Chess,” and features a round-robin format.
- FIDE Tournaments
Some key FIDE events on which to bet include the FIDE Grand Prix, the FIDE World Cup, and the FIDE Grand Swiss. As you would guess, these have all been part of the qualifiers for the World Chess Championship.
- Other Major Chess Events
Along with the competitive chess events above, you may sometimes be able to bet on other important chess tournaments as well. Some examples include Wijk aan Zee, the Blitz and Rapid World Championships, the Grand Chess Tour, the Sinquefield Cup, and the Chess Olympiad.
Why Bet on Chess?
If you are thinking about betting on chess, but not sure if it is for you, here are a few reasons to consider giving it a try.
- Discover something new
- Use what you know
- A thrilling tactical sport
- Chess is easier to watch than ever
- Unusual and surprising champions
- Get an edge
Most of us grow up watching and playing popular sports like football, basketball and baseball. While you are probably familiar with chess (see below), you likely do not have a lot of experience following competitive chess. This is a great opportunity to explore something new and different!
Even if you have never kept up with the world of competitive chess, you probably know some or even all of the rules of chess and how to play it. It is a game many of us are introduced to in childhood. So, that gives you a head start in understanding the game and planning your bets.
Whole books have been written about the theory and tactics of chess. Individual players develop their own techniques. Even though chess has been played for centuries, we are still learning new approaches to the game. For that reason, it is fascinating to watch and bet on.
You no longer need to travel to chess tournaments and struggle to get a good view of the action. Instead, you can just stream chess tournaments from all over the world on your device.
There have been a lot of cool stories from the world of competitive chess. Chess champions come from many walks of life, and are sometimes quite unexpected.
Since chess is not the most popular sport, betting sites do not allocate as many resources to it as they do to sports like football or basketball. That means that the odds may be less accurate. If you can come up with better odds through your own detailed analysis, you might find that betting sites are over or under valuing certain chess players. Those are opportunities you can jump on for a chance to profit.
Types of Bets You Can Make on Chess
Here are some of the types of wagers you can place on competitive chess.
- To win
- Double chance bets
- Handicap bets
- Live bets
The simplest type of bet on competitive chess is on which player will win a match.
You can also bet on which player will win an entire chess tournament.
It is important to be aware that draws are possible in competitive chess. If you do not want to be caught off-guard by draws, one option is to place what is called a “double chance” bet. This is a wager for a player to win or draw. So, if either outcome takes place, you win your wager.
With a handicap bet, points are added to one side and subtracted from the other, giving either bet a more even shot at winning.
You can place a futures bet on who will win a tournament that is months in the future.
Those who like taking big risks for a chance at big rewards can participate in accumulator bets. You combine multiple selections as part of a single accumulator. To win the accumulator, you need to win all of your selections.
On some sports betting websites, you can bet on chess events while they are in-play. This can be a very exiting way to wager on chess, particularly on timed matches.
Strategies for Betting on Chess
Finally, let’s go over some suggestions for the best ways to strategize when you are planning bets on competitive chess.
- Check the rules
- Do your research
- Don’t shy away from the tie
- Shop for value
- Play chess
Different chess tournaments may have different rules regarding things like timing or draws. Before you place your bets, always check the rules for the event you are wagering on. Make sure you understand the format and rules completely.
Look up the participants in the upcoming chess tournament. Find out what you can about their strategies, personalities, and play styles. Look up their records too, paying close attention to whether they excel more at some tournament formats than others. For example, a player might do well when given a lot of time to plan their moves while doing poorly with speed chess.
As with other sports, there can sometimes be intense rivalries between players. It can be helpful to be aware of these rivalries and how they may affect opponents facing off.
It might surprise you to learn that draws are fairly common in chess. Here is an article where you can view an astonishing graph of draws. Explaining their method, the author writes, “Starting with all classical chess games from 2008 until November 30, 2018, we will analyze all games between players with 2750+ FIDE ratings (N=2096 games).”
You will notice that for every year in that time period, the draw rate was above 55%. And for some years, it even exceeded 70%!
In short, the data suggests that chances are better than not that a chess match between two high level players is going to end in a draw. Therefore, you should not be afraid to bet on the tie. In fact, if you are always betting only on a win, you will not fare well.
Chess is no different from any other sport to bet on in that shopping for value is one of the keys to profit.
How do you do that? After you conduct your research and analysis, you can calculate how you would set the odds if you were in charge of a sportsbook.
Compare those odds to the ones that sportsbooks are offering. Look for the sportsbooks that have over or under valued players the most based on your analysis. That is where you should place your bets.
Finally, one awesome thing about betting on chess is that you can easily learn more about the game by playing it yourself.
As much as you can learn by watching chess, you can learn a lot more quickly by giving it a try.
Physical chess sets are pretty easy to come by. And if you can’t find one, don’t want to buy one, or simply do not have space for one, you can always play a digital version of chess on your laptop or mobile device.
Unlike with traditional sports, you do not have to be all that able-bodied to participate; no running, throwing, jumping or so on are required. You just need to be able to move pieces around a board or click or tap on a screen.
You also should have a pretty easy time finding opponents online. And even if you cannot, you can play against a computer.
Test out different strategies, including those employed by competitive players at the top levels. As you understand the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches, you will be able to make smarter predictions about upcoming chess matches.
Bet on Chess Now
While chess is not the first game many of us think of when we consider sports, it is technically classified as a sport.
Watching and betting on chess is very different from following and wagering on a sport like football or basketball, but it can be just as thrilling.
With the advent of livestreaming, it is easier than ever to watch and bet on chess tournaments.
If you are ready to place wagers on events like the World Chess Championship and Speed Chess Championship, click on any of the links in this post to sign up at our recommended online sportsbooks.
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