Take the 2-minute tour ×
Chess Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for serious players and enthusiasts of chess. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It is often debated that white has an advantage over black. Some even say that with perfect play on both sides, black simply cannot win. Is there any research that backs up this claim, or is it mere speculation by the greats such as Rauzer?

Also, if this has been or could be proven true, could the black pieces be given some sort of aid to make them equal to the white ones?

share|improve this question
    
White has the advantage because White is one move ahead. Therefore, with perfect play by each side White will checkmate Black just one move before Black checkmates White. But since White has checkmated Black, then Black will not get the chance to make that move to checkmate White, since the game will be over by then. One move too late for Black. –  Nasser Feb 15 '13 at 23:44
6  
@Nasser, I don't think you are using the standard definition of "perfect play". –  Akavall Feb 16 '13 at 0:17
    
4  
I think the Wikipedia article on the subject is pretty good. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-move_advantage_in_chess –  EvilSpudBoy Feb 16 '13 at 0:50
add comment

4 Answers

These statistics come from a database of over 600,000 games:

White wins   37.35%
Black wins   27.41%
Drawn        35.23%

http://www.chessgames.com/chessstats.html

The stats suggest that White has a significant, measurable first-mover advantage. Not an overwhelming advantage, but better than the house advantage in any casino game.

Is that advantage structured into the game or psychological? Comparative stats on games between mature chess engines may help to decide that.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The first move in chess affords a slight advantage. This is why pairing systems try to alternate a player between the white and black pieces. Some GMs are 'underrated' because over time, they have randomly been assigned the black pieces more often than is normal. They are at a slight disadvantage and thus lose an unnatural frequency.

I have never seen it demonstrated that with perfect play white (or black) will win.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The most comparable game to chess that has been solved is checkers, where it has been shown to be a draw given perfect play by the second player. The first move gives a player a very slight edge initially, but does that convert to a winning advantage?

Tablebases give us some insight into the debate. The vast majority of positions which are materially balanced result in draws. Positions that are somewhat dynamically balanced (say knight vs bishop) still result in draws a high percentage of the time, although the more powerful the remaining pieces are, the more likely first to move is the winner. (take for instance, KQRKQR endgames, the first to move wins 67% of the time).

Another important factor seen in tablebases is that most wins have a relatively short distance to conversion (or moves to force a win). There are extreme cases, for instance, the record had jumped from 292 moves in 1989 to 330, and then to 545 in 2006. The striking quality to me is that the gap between move lengths in these records jumps so much all at once, which suggests that it gets harder to force a win the more moves away from the end you are, because most positions that far away are draws. It would be a winning lotto ticket if starting from the opening position, it happened to be one of those extremely long won positions. To me, this is strong circumstantial evidence that chess will be another game shown to be a draw.

Unfortunately, it is currently impossible to generate a full 32 piece tablebase for chess, as there are more possible chess positions than atoms in the universe. Barring some breakthrough in quantum computing allowing all possible positions to be evaluated simultaneously, I doubt chess will ever be fully solved by man.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I think statistically it has been shown that White has the advantage, but as the saying goes, "The winner of chess is the player who makes the second to last mistake". White only has the advantage on the first move and this would not matter if they make a horrible second move. I would also say that White has more of an advantage at top level play because there are not likely to be too any mistakes, but at the lower level, being White or Black does not offer much of an advantage because there are probably many mistakes.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.