Monday, 30 June 2014

The Prop Bet

The funniest thing that came out of the whole Luis Suarez biting incident at the World Cup was the news that a Norwegian fan won close to $1000 on a 'prop' bet that Suarez would bite someone during the tournament. I'm a little surprised that there was even a market for this, but if Indian cricket bookmakers have shown us, there is probably a market for any and every aspect of a sporting contest.
But as usual, chess has historically led the way. Back in the 19th century one form of wager was on which piece would, or must, deliver checkmate. To make it a real contest, this was usually a knight (the 'capped knight') as stronger pieces could easily accomplish the task. The challenge was initially to keep such a piece safe, before using it to finish the job.
A classic example of this is the following game between Lange and Schierstedt. Lange's Queens Knight was the required piece, and he managed to win a game which would have been brilliant without the requirement. I can only assume he was far stronger than his opponent though, as after move 2, the strategy of throwing everything at the knight seemed obvious.

Lange,Max - Schierstedt [C25]
Breslau Breslau, 1868

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