Betting Strategies
11.10.2023, 08:52
23.05.2024, 10:24

Chess Betting Strategies: Tips for Novice and Expert Punters

Chess, a game of strategy and intellect, traces its roots back to ancient civilisations. While the exact origins of chess remain a debate among historians, it is widely believed that the game evolved from chaturanga, played in India during the Gupta Empire around the 6th century AD.

Chaturanga, which means "four divisions of the military" in Sanskrit, represented infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots – these evolved into the pawn, knight, bishop, and rook in modern chess.

The game was transmitted to Persia, where it became known as Shatranj. As the Islamic empires expanded, so did the game's popularity, spreading to the Muslim world and later to Europe through various channels, including the Moorish conquest of Spain.

Over centuries, regional variations and adaptations gave rise to the modern game we recognise today, with standardised rules and universally accepted piece designs.

Is Betting on Chess Legal?

Placing wagers on chess matches is legal and has also emerged as a hot pick among niche sports betting enthusiasts. When you spot chess odds listed on top-tier online sportsbooks, you can confidently place your bets on the next big match-up.

Note that online sportsbooks operating outside the Nigerian jurisdiction fully comply with the law. This means punters can dive deep into the thrilling world of chess tournament betting without any reservations.

Betting Types in Chess: Dive Deep into the Game

Understanding the types of bets available is paramount for those passionate about chess and seeking a thrilling wagering experience. Just as in any sport, knowing the nuances of betting in chess can substantially enhance your chances of securing that sweet cashout. Let's delve into the most common bet types in the world of chess:

1. Over/Unders

Unlike traditional sports like the NFL, betting Over/Under in chess revolves around the number of moves a player will make in a game. Say, for instance, you're watching a face-off between chess legends Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana. If a sportsbook has projected Carlsen's moves at 150.5, with the Over at -150 and the Under at +110, it essentially predicts Carlsen to make more than 151 moves in that game.

2. Futures Bets

In chess, futures bets are all about the long game. They provide you with an opportunity to place wagers well in advance of a significant event. Want to bet on the World Chess Championship? With futures bets, you can do so weeks, if not months, in advance. Typically, the payouts for these types of bets are more substantial due to the inherent uncertainties associated with predicting outcomes far ahead of time.

3. Straight Bets

The most straightforward of all chess bets is the straight bet, where you predict the winner of a match. Let's say there's a match between Liren Ding and Hao Wang. If a sportsbook lists Ding's odds at -350 and Wang's at +200, it suggests Ding is the favoured player to clinch the victory. Remember, the heavier the favourite, the larger the initial bet required, reflecting the decreased risk.

Betting on chess is not just about understanding the game but also about understanding the betting types. So, the next time you're eager to place a wager, consider these bets to enhance your experience and possibly your winnings!

Calculation of odds in Chess Betting

Calculating odds in chess, like in other sports, is a sophisticated process that considers various factors. Bookmakers or sportsbooks analyse these factors to determine the probabilities of potential outcomes, which are then translated into odds. Here's a closer look at how the odds are calculated for chess:

  • Player Ratings: The most direct measure of a player's strength is their Elo rating or other rating systems, such as FIDE's for international play. A higher-rated player facing a lower-rated player will generally be considered the favourite.
  • Head-to-Head Records: Past encounters between the players provide valuable insights. A player might have a psychological edge over an opponent, even if their ratings are close.
  • Recent Form: A player's recent performance, including win-loss records, consistency, and quality of opponents, can indicate their current form. A player on a winning streak might be favoured even if playing against a slightly higher-rated opponent.
  • Tournament Situation: In tournaments, the stakes of a particular game can influence odds. For instance, a player who needs a win to advance might play more aggressively than usual.
  • Playing Styles: Certain styles match up better against others. An aggressive player might have better odds against a notoriously defensive opponent, even if their ratings are similar.
  • Game Color: In chess, having white pieces is generally considered a slight advantage due to the initiative of the first move. Odds might slightly favour the player with the white pieces in a particular game.
  • External Factors: This includes health issues, personal problems, fatigue (in case of multiple rounds in a single day), or even known preparation and studying habits.

Once these factors are analysed, they're fed into statistical models to produce a probability for each potential outcome. These probabilities are then converted into decimal or fractional odds.

It's worth noting that the initial odds also factor in the sportsbook's margin, ensuring they turn a profit. As bets are placed, odds might be adjusted to balance the book and ensure the sportsbook remains profitable, irrespective of the outcome.

Examples of Betting on Chess

Match Winner Bet

Scenario: The World Chess Championship is on, and Magnus Carlsen faces Fabiano Caruana in one of their scheduled matches. Your online sportsbook gives the following odds:

  • Magnus Carlsen to win: 1.50
  • Fabiano Caruana to win: 2.60
  • Draw: 2.30

If you place a bet of $100 on Carlsen and he wins, you'll get a return of $150. If Caruana wins and you had bet on him, you'd receive $260. If the game ends in a draw and you bet on that outcome, you'd get $230.

Over/Under Bet on Number of Moves

Scenario: In a forthcoming match between Ding Liren and Ian Nepomniachtchi, a sportsbook provides an Over/Under bet on the total number of moves the game will have:

  • Over 40.5 moves: 1.90
  • Under 40.5 moves: 1.90

You speculate that the game will be a long one and place a bet of $50 on "Over 40.5 moves". If the game extends beyond 40 moves, you stand to gain a return of $95.

Futures Bet on Tournament Winner

Scenario: At the start of the Candidates Tournament, various odds are given for each player to win the event.

  • Anish Giri: 4.00
  • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave: 5.00
  • Wesley So: 6.50
  • ... and so on for other players.

You firmly believe in Giri's form and bet $20 on him. If Giri goes on to win the Candidates Tournament, your payout would be $80.

Remember, these are hypothetical odds, and actual odds can vary based on various factors, including how bookmakers assess players' chances and how much money is being bet on each outcome. Always bet responsibly and ensure you're informed about the game and the players.

Placing Your Bets on the Champions Chess Tour and Other Premium Events

Champions Chess Tour: The Digital Arena

One of the most riveting tournaments in the modern chess arena, the Champions Chess Tour is a blend of adrenaline-packed games and lucrative rewards. With a staggering prize pool of $1.6 million, this online tour, spanning from February to November, promises both intensity and unpredictability.

Comprising both major and regular tournaments, the prize distribution varies, with majors boasting a pot of $210,000 and regular ones at $60,000. The digital nature of the event ensures global participation, making betting on winners for each tournament a thrilling endeavour.

Spotlight on Other Stellar Chess Events

FIDE Grand Prix: An ensemble of four distinctive tournaments, each round of the Grand Prix is a face-off in the best-of-two-matches format. With its unique structure, it's a bettor's delight and a strategist's dream. The stakes are high as the winner and runner-up pave their way to the Candidates Tournament, which subsequently can propel players to the Chess World Cup.

Chess World Cup: Held biennially, this tournament witnesses the fierce competition among 128 players in a single-elimination format. With every match being a potential decider of fate, betting stakes run high.

The Candidates Tournament: A fluctuating number of participants makes this event unpredictable. However, the prestige associated is unparalleled. The triumphant player has the chance to challenge the World Cup's victor.

World Corporate Chess Championship: 2021 saw this online spectacle amass participation from over 1,500 players. Representing various corporates, it's an exciting blend of strategy and corporate rivalry.

Pros and Cons in Betting on Chess

Betting on chess, as with any other form of gambling, comes with advantages and drawbacks. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of chess betting:


  • Skill-Based Game: Chess is a game of skill, and avid followers can use their knowledge of players, strategies, and styles to make more informed bets.
  • Predictability: With access to many player statistics, past games, and performance analysis, one can predict outcomes more accurately than in games of pure chance.
  • Growing Popularity: With online platforms and streaming services, chess is gaining popularity, leading to more tournaments, coverage, and betting opportunities.
  • Less Volatile: Compared to team sports, where an injury or substitution can drastically change the game's outcome, chess is typically less volatile (although unexpected moves and strategies can still surprise).
  • Engagement: Betting can increase one's engagement and interest in a game or tournament, making it more thrilling to watch.
  • Variety of Betting Options: From match winners to specific game outcomes, such as the number of moves, there's a wide range of betting possibilities.


  • Limited Availability: Not all sportsbooks offer betting on chess, limiting the options for enthusiasts.
  • Insider Knowledge: Those not profoundly familiar with the nuances of chess may find it challenging to make informed bets, as the game's intricacies can be complex.
  • Draws: Chess games, especially among top players, often end in draws, making certain types of betting (like match-winner bets) more challenging.
  • Addiction Risk: Like all forms of gambling, there's a risk of addiction. It's crucial to bet responsibly and know when to stop.
  • Financial Loss: As with any form of betting, there's always the risk of losing money. Even if one is knowledgeable about chess, unexpected outcomes can occur.
  • Potential for Manipulation: Although rare, there have been instances in sports betting where games are manipulated to achieve specific outcomes. Chess is not immune to such risks, especially in lower-tier events with less oversight.

In conclusion, while chess betting can be exciting and offer a unique way to engage with the game, it's essential to approach it responsibly, understanding the opportunities and the risks involved.


Betting on chess allows enthusiasts to deepen their engagement with this age-old strategy game. The predictability stemming from a player's past performance, style, and head-to-head matchups makes it a unique domain for bettors who appreciate skill-based outcomes. However, like all forms of betting, it's not without risks.

The possibility of financial loss, the risk of addiction, and the potential for game manipulation underscore the need for a cautious and informed approach. In essence, while chess betting can amplify the thrill of each move on the board, it requires a balanced strategy off the board, ensuring that the stakes never overshadow the love and respect for the game.


Is betting on chess legal?

The legality of betting on chess depends on the jurisdiction and local laws. In many places where sports betting is legal, betting on chess is allowed. However, always check local regulations before placing a bet.

What are the most common types of bets in chess?

Common bets include match winner (betting on which player will win), over/under bets (usually on the number of moves in a game), and futures bets (betting on a tournament winner in advance).

Can I bet live during a chess match?

Many sportsbooks offer live betting, allowing bettors to place bets while a game is ongoing. This betting can be based on evolving positions, time control situations, or even potential outcomes like draws or checkmates.

How are odds determined for chess matches?

Odds are typically set by bookmakers based on players' past performance, head-to-head matchups, current form, and other relevant statistics. The betting behaviour of the public can also influence the odds.

Are there any chess tournaments that are particularly popular for betting?

Yes, high-profile tournaments like the World Chess Championship, the Candidates Tournament, and the Chess Olympiad are popular events that attract significant betting interest.

Is there a risk of match-fixing in chess?

Like all sports, there's a potential risk, although top-tier chess tournaments have strict oversight and regulations. However, it's always essential to be aware of this risk, especially when betting on lower-tier events.

Can I use chess engines or software to aid my betting decisions?

While you can use chess engines to analyse ongoing games or player styles, remember that these engines provide game analysis, not betting advice. Betting remains a risk, and while engines can inform decisions, they can't predict human errors or sudden strategic decisions made in the heat of the moment.


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