If there was perfect play from both the colors, will white win because of the first move advantage or will it be a draw?

  • 4
    It has never been proven so we really don't know for sure. But it should be a draw because there has been no opening that can't be refuted.
    – SmallChess
    Sep 28 '15 at 7:26
  • alternately it could be that black would win because white would make the first mistake. ;-) either way, a forced win would certainly be bad for chess as no really good players would likely be willing to play as the losing side.
    – Michael
    Nov 30 '18 at 23:30
  • I believe white will eventually reign supreme because of his first-move advantage. The problem is finding the optimal strategy.
    – Alan
    Jan 30 '20 at 14:43

Most Grandmasters will argue that chess is a draw with perfect play from both sides. However, in practice it is shown that white has higher win rates than black, but this is due to the first-move advantage. This is because white technically gains a small advantage from having the first move, and black will equalize with their move.

It is possible that a first-move could cause a disadvantage with perfect play, because despite having perfect information, the black player could potentially be able to counter any strategy white attempts to play. It is more likely however that if one side were to have a forced win, it would be for white.

The answer to this question will not be known for a long time because only in 2012 were endgame tablebases able to solve any position with 7 pieces perfectly (including the 2 kings). For comparison of how impressive this feat is, 6 pieces was only solved in 2005. Obviously, this problem is exponential because with more and more pieces, the complexity increases further and further, until eventually the game is solved for 32 pieces. One could argue that the starting position is static so we don't have to consider every combination of 32 pieces on the 64 squares, but the number of possibilities is still enormous and will take a long time to know for certain.


Almost all experts during the last 150 years share the opinion that the game should be a draw with perfect play (link):

The view that a game of chess should end in a draw given best play prevails.


Of course, with best play, it is a draw.

However for a humourous contrary view, Jonathan Rowson, in his book "Chess for Zebra", quotes English GM Jon Speelman:

The initial position is a decisive reciprocal zugzwang and white is losing ;-)

  • 2
    do you have any proof of this?
    – Michael
    Nov 30 '18 at 23:31

It is the Zermelo's theorem from game theory, which says that a finite 2 person game always has a solution (draw or a winning strategy for black or white).


  • 4
    Op is asking which one it is.
    – Herb
    Jul 27 '18 at 20:49
  • My bad, I wanted to precise top answer... Thanks for report. Jul 27 '18 at 20:50

Humans tend to draw because feeling fear - more fear if you play weaker. It lead to panic defensive, passive chess, blockades and poor game - which is opposition to rich and balanced, tactical, aggressive, positional, active chess.

Never accept draws to learn how to play even you will lose you will become stronger :) Carlsen not give up many draw positions and wins many of "draw" position which often is draw but opponent can not play enough accurate to win draw.

It will bring you much richer experience and fruitful games than building walls or waiting for draw which not works.

Simple answer 50% of draws Stockfish with other engines (no statistics for itself). Stockfish 9 64-bit 4CPU 3441 +17 −17 72.5% −156.5 49.5% 1198

Whatever Leela playing itself (AI) only %5 draw (maybe play bad).


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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