Another method of levelling the playing field is to change stones every 20 moves. This is a very interesting way to play. As the game nears endgame, an adjudicator tells the player to discontinue swapping stones. This has the purpose of putting the stronger player at a disadvantage at the beginning of the endgame, which should make for a close finish.
I've played this a few times now. Sometimes with close rank players, other times with a big difference in ranks, and have found it to be most enjoyable, although the head does hurt when you have to undo your own tesuji's.
Give it a try!
nodog: Could this page change to Handicap Alternatives and list even more?
Robert Pauli: No, as when calamaries play go... ;-)
Tom: How about randomising when the sides change, say a 0.01 chance each move. Towards the end of the game, the stronger player should start to build an advantage.
nodog: I'm going to give this a try with a friend using a 20-sided die. We're going to roll the die after the placement of each stone, and if it comes up a 1, then the players switch colors.
nodog: Well, the first lesson is that with a die, there needs to be an added rule of "No player may play more than twice in a row." (We rolled three 1's in succession, which would mean that one player gets to make three moves in a row, changing colors for each move.)
nodog: 100 moves in on two different games (DGS), and I have to say that these games are much more challenging as the stronger player than typical handicap games of largely disparate stengths. There have been a few instances where I've wondered whether I should make the best play (my opinion, of course) or the play which makes the game most balanced so I can win in the endgame. In these games, I've opted for the best play.
nodog: We've finally hit the last useful moves in one of the games. Here's what we think about the endgame and the die roll. We decided that when a player passes, that player does not roll the die. We also decided that once a player has passed, that player may choose to invalidate the effect any further rolls. This should keep the player who hasn't passed from just continuing to make moves in order just to roll a 1. Because there are no pass stones here on DGS, the score works out even if the non-passing player continues to make dame (or other) moves. (This is obviously for friendly and not tournament play.)
ACR: I have only begun learning Go this month, but I like the idea of this method very much for teaching. As a beginner, my games are rarely instructive to me after a certain point since they quickly becomes lost causes sometime during the midgame. Perhaps switching to a strong position in the midgame and working from there will help me understand the later stages of the game better, and maybe even learn how to get to that stage on my own.
 nodog: I'm going to try this with a friend to help alleviate the beginner frustration of losing a lot. I'm interested in what the right number of moves for switching is. Does "every 20 moves" mean after 20 stones laid on the goban or after every 20 moves by each player (40 stones laid on the goban)? Has anyone else tried this and found a better number of moves for switching? Would every 10 moves work for a 9x9 board maybe?
juste: Some friends and I play at a bar often. There, 1 drink ~= +1 kyu :)