Monday, March 1, 2010

First Move and Odds

To decide who moves first, one player conceals a white pawn in one hand and a black pawn in the other, his adversary not seeing in which hand the different pawns are put. The other holds out his hands with the pawns concealed, and his adversary touches one. If that contains the white pawn, he takes the white men and moves first. If he draws the black pawn his adversary has the first move, since white, by convention, always plays first. Subsequently the first move is taken alternately. If one player, by way of odds, “gives” his adversary a pawn or piece, that piece is removed before play begins. If the odds are “pawn and move,” or “pawn and two,” a black pawn, namely, the king’s bishop’s pawn, is removed and white plays one move, or any two moves in succession. “Pawn and two” is generally considered to be slightly less in point of odds than to give a knight or a bishop; to give a knight and a bishop is to give rather more than a rook; a rook and bishop less than a queen; two rooks rather more than a queen. The odds of “the marked pawn” can only be given to a much weaker player. A pawn, generally KB’s pawn, is marked with a cap of paper. If the pawn is captured its owner loses the game; he can also lose by being checkmated in the usual way, but he cannot give mate to his adversary with any man except the marked pawn, which may not be moved to an eighth square and exchanged for a piece.

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