Many times in literature there are statements like "White/Black is winning" or "White/Black is better". How does one differentiate between the two? How could it be possible for White to be better and not be winning, or be winning and not better? Is there really a difference between the two or are they the same thing?

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    When one side is said to be winning, that means with perfect play from both sides (the losing and winning side), the winning side will still win the game no matter what. If a position is better, that just means that one said has the advantage, his position might be easier to play, he has more space, or what have you, but with perfect play from both sides, it will still result in a draw.
    – flicflac
    Jan 11, 2013 at 0:55
  • @flicflac: I agree, and to the last sentence: or a win, only we can't tell already. Jan 11, 2013 at 6:29

3 Answers 3


In the late stages of the game, an advantage can be easily recognized to be enough to win or not. In the earlier stages (the end of the opening, typically), it's a lot harder to tell.

If White is better, and if he manages to obtain something sizeable out of this avantage, then he will win. If Black fights well, he'll still manage to draw, or turn the tables and win.


"Winning" means that the advantage is large enough that one side can be expected to win, not merely draw. "Better" means that one side has an advantage but it is not necessarily enough to claim a win.

The terms aren't scientific; there can be a lot of grey.


"White is winning" means that White should be able to FORCE a win with proper play.

"White is better" means that White has a clear advantage, but if Black plays perfectly going forward, he will be able to draw (or win).

It often takes only one more advantage to get from "White is better" to "White is winning."

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