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Statistically speaking, for white and black, what is the last piece moved from its starting position, and why?

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do you mean the last piece moved in the game when it ends or the last piece moved at any given time? –  Andrew May 17 '12 at 15:02
+1 @Andrew: Last piece moved from its default starting position on the board. For example, all pawns start on the second row, but I would guess that a given pawn is not the last piece moved statistically speaking. –  blunders May 17 '12 at 15:03
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think a good approach to this is to see what pieces most likely move first.

Central pawns normally always come out.

The bishops and knights come out early

If you castle early, one of the rooks plus the king will have moved

The other rook is sometimes left stationary unless there is an open file.

The queen normally gets into play.

Since you want to keep the king safeguarded, especially if castled, I would say most players would try to move the pawns in front of the castled king last or leave them on their original squares.

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There was a funny game between Tal and Karpov where Tal played e2-e4 at move 101 "for fun". A serious game in a strong tournament. Ended with draw. –  AnonymousLurker Nov 1 '12 at 12:53
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There are so many factors that would affect that. Player strength, for one, as weaker players tend to play heavy pieces first (beginners always have to be told not to push their rook pawns and bring their rooks out in front of their pawns).

Next, the opening choice affects it strongly, because that can dictate both castling and pawn structure.

Since O-O-O is rarer than O-O, a good guess for the last piece is the QR, because every other piece has to move before it can. But pawns figure in as well, and given the rarity of queen side fianchettoes I'd guess the b-pawn might even nip the Rook for last moved.

What's the purpose of the question, aside from idle curiosity? Is there a principle you're aiming for?

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